Conflict, Climate Change Leaves South Sudan among “world’s hungriest countries”: Trócaire

Trócaire and CAFOD are on the ground in South Sudan providing assistance to families affected by climate change. Photo: Achuoth Deng/Trócaire.

Violent conflicts and climate change in South Sudan have contributed to the country being “consistently” ranked as one of the “world’s hungriest countries,” the leadership of the overseas development agency of the Catholic Bishops of Ireland, Trócaire, has said.  

In a Tuesday, November 15 report, Trócaire officials say the world’s youngest nation is facing renewed conflict and one of the worst droughts in years.

“A complex balance between conflict and climate change has left South Sudan consistently ranking among the world’s hungriest countries,” Trócaire officials say.

They compare the current drought situation with the 2017 famine, saying that South Sudan “is now once again facing similar conditions due to renewed violence, the worst flooding in almost 60 years, and drought.”

Trócaire officials identify Yirol East in South Sudan’s Lakes State as one of the areas most affected by climate change that has rendered living conditions difficult.


In the area, they say that the situation is “unforgiving with long droughts and extreme flooding, making growing food almost impossible.”

Yom Deng, a mother of five residing in Yirol East is struggling to feed her family after drought destroyed her crops.

In order to survive, the leadership of the Irish Catholic entity says, the 37-year-old “forages for wild fruit and vegetables to feed her children but she is struggling to breastfeed her youngest son because she is not eating enough herself to produce milk.”

“We are farmers but there has been no rain. Our crops are dying. There is no food. After a long day of work on the farm, I go to the bushes to look for wild vegetables and fruit to feed my family,” Ms. Deng told Trócaire officials.

Expressing her uncertainty and fear concerning the duration of the drought, she said, “Lack of rain is a major problem."

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"If it had rained, by this time we would have food from my garden. I am asking people to keep us in their prayers for rain to come, so that we can grow food on our own,” Ms. Deng has been quoted as telling Trócaire.

Apart from prolonged droughts, South Sudan has also been affected by flooding, Trócaire officials say, adding that over 900,000 people have been affected “as torrential rains ravage crops and destroy homes.”

“The world’s newest nation is reeling from four consecutive years of flooding, with the disaster now affecting nine out of ten states,” the officials say in the November 15 report.

The leadership of the Irish Catholic entity reflects on the situation of Nyangei Kai and Thomas Riak who are among farmers bearing the effects of floods caused by climate change in South Sudan.

They say that the duo “were forced to flee their home when flood waters destroyed their crops and killed their animals. They are now internally displaced and moved to the Yirol East area where they are being supported by a host family.”


“When the floods came, everything was submerged under water. I lost all my livelihood to the floods. All the food reserves that we had saved for years were destroyed. All the animals died and we had nothing to grow. The hunger kicked in," Ms. Nyangei is quoted as saying.

The Program Coordinator of the humanitarian arm of South Sudan’s Catholic Diocese of Rumbek is quoted warning that food insecurity is likely to increase this year.

“If people aren’t going to have a harvest in the next few months, people will starve because they will not have anything in their farms to feed their families,” the Program Coordinator of Caritas Rumbek, Peter Mamer Alam, says.

Mr. Mamer adds, “We are hoping that if everything goes well, and the rains start, people will cultivate other crops. But groundnuts and vegetable crops that were cultivated earlier, have been affected by the drought.”

The South Sudanese Caritas official says, in the November 15 Trócaire report, that “donor support is making a difference in the region and that families are receiving emergency food supplies as well as tools and seeds.”

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Due to the hunger, Trócaire officials say that almost nine million people in South Sudan, representing about 80 percent of the population, are victims of the food crisis in the East-Central African nation.

In an effort to address the challenge of hunger in the world’s youngest nation, the November 15 report indicates that Trócaire is partnering other charitable agencies, including the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), which is the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, to reach out to families through Caritas Rumbek.

“With funding from Irish Aid, Caritas Norway, UK Aid Match and the Climate Green Fund, some 30,000 people in the area have been supported with livelihood kits comprising of seeds and tools and emergency food aid,” Trócaire officials say in the November 15 report.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.