Food security conditions in South Kordofan, Sudan are dramatically declining, and malnutrition among children in the rebel-held areas of the conflict-torn state is on the rise, according to a new report showing findings from the first international rapid food security and nutritional assessment conducted in South Kordofan since 2011.
According to the assessment, the prevalence of malnutrition among children in South Kordofan is “serious” bordering on “critical”—the worst or most dire World Health Organization malnutrition classification. The amount of households surviving on one meal per day has jumped to a staggering 81.5 percent, compared to only 9.5 percent one year ago, and zero percent two years ago.
More than 65 percent of households in South Kordofan have less than one week’s worth of food. This is particularly concerning because food is not readily available for purchase in the area, and incomes are scarce or non-existent. Further, due to persistent bombardment by the Sudan Armed Forces, the harvest this year is expected to be low-yielding and will run out quickly, leading to only a temporary amelioration in the dire conditions there.
John Prendergast, Enough Project Co-founder, said:
The assessment’s findings indicate that the situation in South Kordofan today is similar to the conditions leading up to the Horn of Africa famine in 2011. If the international community does not respond to these early warning indicators in South Kordofan, the situation could have devastating consequences for hundreds of thousands of people.
Pre-positioning of relief supplies must begin now, and all possible means of delivery need to be explored and, if negotiations over access fail, utilized.
The nutritional assessment was carried out by an international non-governmental organization but, due to security reasons, the organization requested to remain anonymous and asked the Enough Project to publish the report. The Enough Project was responsible for the report’s final production and distribution, and had the assessment vetted by experts at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who found its findings to be credible.
Jennifer Christian, Enough Project Sudan policy analyst and author of the accompanying policy brief, said:
The rapid food security and nutritional assessment corroborates existing evidence of the humanitarian crisis unfolding in South Kordofan. Given the government of Sudan’s failure to comply with the terms of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2046, the U.N. Security Council must enact measures against Sudanese government officials responsible for the denial of food into Blue Nile and South Kordofan states, and call on U.N. member States to take all measures necessary to deliver aid should the government of Sudan continue to ignore its obligations.
For nearly a year and a half, the government of Sudan has indiscriminately targeted civilians and denied international humanitarian aid access to civilian populations in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, particularly in areas under control of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N.
Along with the report, the Enough Project has issued an accompanying brief outlining policy recommendations based on the assessment’s findings. It calls on the A.U. Peace and Security Council and the U.N.
Security Council to demand the government of Sudan and the SPLM-N cooperate with the Tripartite Partners in negotiating unfettered international access into the two states, and to identify consequences should a party undermine or frustrate the negotiations. If negotiated access fails, alternative channels must be utilized to ensure international humanitarian access into the two states.
The brief recommends the African Union facilitate immediate political negotiations between the government of Sudan and the SPLM-N for a cessation of hostilities agreement to create suitable conditions on the ground for the widespread delivery of humanitarian assistance and the return of displaced populations. These negotiations should also produce a long-term ceasefire agreement and a broad, inclusive political process to address the conflict’s underlying causes of social, political and economic marginalization.
The rapid nutrition and food security assessment was conducted in the more secure SPLM-N controlled areas, indicating that conditions in other parts of South Kordofan could be just as severe or worse. No similar assessment has been carried out in Blue Nile state, but the condition of refugees from Blue Nile indicates that the food security situation there may be comparable to that in South Kordofan.