Food Assistance Fact Sheet - South Sudan

Map of South Sudan

August 14, 2019

After more than five years of conflict, South Sudan remains one of the most food-insecure countries in the world. Ongoing violent conflict; population displacement and restricted movement; and disruption of trade, markets, and cultivation activities have exacerbated food insecurity and humanitarian needs.


  • Nearly 7 million people in South Sudan were projected to face Crisis (IPC 3) or worse levels of acute food insecurity from May–July, a period of severe hunger during the lean season, according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) update released in June.* Additionally, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network reports that Crisis and Emergency (IPC 4) levels of acute food insecurity will likely continue through January 2020; the risk of Famine (IPC 5) also persists, and Famine would be likely if conflict shifts and severely limits household movements and restricts humanitarian access. 
  • Prolonged conflict and economic instability are the main drivers of food insecurity in South Sudan, causing households to endure large-scale asset losses and livelihoods disruptions.  Additionally, below-average rainfall delayed the start of the 2019 planting season and limited pasture regeneration, keeping livestock body conditions poor.
  • Humanitarian assistance is preventing further deterioration of food security, but the number of people reached remains far below the estimated population in need. Conflict levels in 2019 have been lower than in recent years, but high food prices and insecurity limit households’ access to markets, livestock, fish, and wild foods, resulting in persistent and severe food insecurity.

* The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) is a standardized tool that aims to classify the severity and magnitude of acute food insecurity. The IPC scale, which is comparable across countries, ranges from Minimal (IPC 1) to Famine (IPC 5). A Famine classification applies to a wider geographical location, while the term Catastrophe (IPC 5) refers to an extreme lack of food at the household level even with full employment of coping strategies. Famine is determined when more than 20 percent of households in an area are classified as experiencing Catastrophe, when the global acute malnutrition level exceeds 30 percent and when the crude mortality rate exceeds two people per 10,000 persons per day.  


  • A sustained and unimpeded humanitarian response is critical to saving lives in South Sudan. Since the start of the conflict, USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) and its partners—including the UN World Food Program (WFP) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF)—have assisted the most vulnerable and conflict-affected populations through emergency food and nutrition interventions across the country. FFP-supported programs provide life-saving in-kind and cash-based food assistance to an average of more than 1 million people per month. 
  • FFP also partners with Catholic Relief Services to provide families in Jonglei State with emergency food assistance, expanded access to safe drinking water, and livelihoods interventions, including agricultural training for farming households. 
  • Additionally, with FFP support, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) helps food-insecure South Sudanese increase household food production by distributing seeds, tools for planting, and fishing kits. FAO also provides vulnerable families with food vouchers that can be exchanged at nearby markets, improving access to nutritious foods and supporting local economies.

Food for Peace Contributions

Total Contributions:

  U.S. Dollars Metric Tons
Fiscal Year 2019 $374.8 million 168,384 MT
Fiscal Year 2018 $398.2 million 154,341 MT
Fiscal Year 2017 $522.3 million 255,422 MT
* Metric tonnage does not reflect funding for vouchers or cash transfers. 

Related Resources

Last updated: August 15, 2019

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