Hungry for Peace: Exploring the Links Between Hunger and Conflict in South Sudan
South Sudan’s independent history is short, but most of it has been spent at war. In December 2017, the country marked four years of devastating conflict and today, only a few months later, it has reached another critical point: more South Sudanese are hungry than ever before.
While the February 2018 Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) – the country’s official source for food insecurity data – does not declare famine, this is not the only situation where food insecurity threatens lives. Any classification of IPC 3 upwards means people need aid to survive. This means that 6.3 million people are struggling to get enough to eat, and are dependent on humanitarian aid that is increasingly difficult to access.
The IPC shows that South Sudan is locked in a year on year worsening trend with a clear cause: conflict. But it doesn’t show which factors other than the ability to get food can be the difference between crisis, emergency and catastrophic levels of hunger. It doesn’t show that, even within families, some people are more at risk than others. And it doesn’t show that the peo-ple behind the numbers don’t care what you call it. Because no matter where they sit on the scale, they need food, they need assistance, and more than anything, they need peace.
The links between conflict and hunger are well-known. Yet humanitarian funding and political commitment have not kept pace with the increasingly urgent needs of communities. When warring parties and the international community gather to discuss peace in South Sudan, they are not only nego-tiating a ceasefire, power-sharing between parties or accountability mecha-nisms – they are negotiating an end to the hunger and suffering of millions of South Sudanese civilians.