Even families living in areas where famine has not been declared are risking malnutrition as they turn to barely edible wild foods with low nutritional value.
Bhakita Abuk Deng and her seven children live in the remote farming community of Amothic village. She is one of many parents concerned for her children’s health.
“Children are suffering because there is not enough food to eat. Some of the children have diarrhoea from eating the leaves,” she says.
Over 35,000 people have fled to Sudan in search of food. Meanwhile, families in famine-affected areas resort to eating seeds in order to survive, and are left with nothing to plant for the next growing season.
From bad to worse
Desperate survival strategies damage livelihoods and threaten to worsen the food crisis. There is an increasing risk that famine will spread from affected areas to neighbouring villages.
While famine has been declared in southern parts of the country, the people of Amothic are also running out of food options. Across the country, conflict has disrupted planting, harvesting and other livelihood activities. In the coming months, famine might spread to farming communities like Amothic.
“About 40 per cent of the people in Amothic are eating tree leaves. About half of the village are eating their seed stocks too,” says Deng Yel Piol, village chief in Amothic.
The Norwegian Refugee Council has emergency teams on the ground, and since farming was declared in parts of the country the organisation has supported over 100,000 people affected by the food crisis.
“We have a catastrophe occurring right before our eyes, and the time to act and stop this crisis from spreading is now,” warns Rehana Zawar, NRC’s Country Director in South Sudan.