The Government of South Sudan to produce a multisectoral strategic plan for nutrition.
JUBA, South Sudan, October 15, 2019 – An alarmingly high number of children under five years of age are suffering from the physical consequences of poor diets and a food system that is failing them, UNICEF warned today in a new report on children and nutrition.The State of the World’s Children 2019 report finds that in 2018, at least 1 in 3 children under five globally, were either stunted, wasted or overweight, reflecting poor growth, and putting them at risk of increased infections, weak learning skills, low immunity and, in many cases, death. In addition, 1 in 2 children – or 340 million globally- suffered from deficiencies in vitamins and minerals such as iron and iodine, further undermining their growth.
Also, in South Sudan the numbers are alarming. The prevalence of acute malnutrition among children has increased from 13 per cent in 2018 to 16 per cent in 2019, which is above the 15 per cent emergency threshold. An estimated 1.3 million children under five will suffer from acute malnutrition in 2020. This calls for a paradigm shift in addressing malnutrition by shifting from focusing on treatment to prioritizing prevention- reducing the need for treatment.
“Every child in need of treatment for malnutrition is a failure, a failure in preventing the suffering,” said UNICEF Representative in South Sudan Dr Mohamed Ag Ayoya. “Preventing malnutrition is an essential part of realizing every child’s right to health. Young children can suffer lifelong consequences and in worst case die if malnutrition is not addressed timely during the first crucial years in life.”
The challenge is not only securing enough food, but ensuring children are eating the right things and get the nutrients they need to develop to their full potential. Only 7 per cent of children under five in South Sudan has an adequate diet. Furthermore, common diseases such as malaria must be prevented and treated, as they are often the starting point for malnutrition. Only 50 per cent of households have access to clean water and only 10 per cent access to improved sanitation. Ensuring clean water and addressing poor sanitation and hygiene practices are also essential to preventing diarrheal diseases causing malnutrition.
“Malnutrition is complex and must be fought on all fronts simultaneously. Together with partners and donors we have become exceptionally good at treating children for acute malnutrition, now we must up our game and become even better at preventing it,” said Dr Ayoya.
To strengthen diverse diets and healthy food for children, UNICEF and partners are promoting age-appropriate feeding practices for children, including cooking demonstrations with locally available food. UNICEF is working with sister agencies such as FAO to improve resilience by providing families with seeds and livestock preventing future shocks. Hygiene promotion, improving access to clean water and sanitation and providing health services are also contributing to prevention of malnutrition.
UNICEF is issuing an urgent appeal to help children in South Sudan to grow healthily and calls on:
- the Government of South Sudan to produce a multisectoral strategic plan for nutrition with joint targets, pooled resources, multisectoral coordination, an accountability framework and joint monitoring and evaluation system.
- donors to support prevention activities as well as treatment of malnutrition and advocate for an enabling environment for a multisectoral nutrition strategy;
- non-government organizations to support the implementation of the shift in addressing malnutrition by prioritizing prevention of malnutrition at community level in addition to treatment of malnutrition at facility level.
- communities and parents to ensure their children have a healthy diet.
“With good food and nutrition, we can set a child up for success, and yet we are losing ground in the fight for healthy diets,” said Executive Director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore at the global launch of The State of the World’s Children Report in London “This is not a battle we can win on our own. We need governments, the private sector and civil society to prioritize child nutrition and work together to address the causes of unhealthy eating in all its forms.”
Participants at the forum are discussing how they can use their experience to influence and drive forward the implementation of the all-important peace agreement.
JUBA, South Sudan, October 3, 2019 – At a hotel in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, small groups of men and women – in dozens – gather around conference tables.“The people know that the peace agreement has been signed, but they do not know what the peace agreement is all about, and they want services,” says Hakim Paride from Torit to his tablemates.
Hakim is one of the participants – about 60 of them – at a three-day forum which kicked off on Tuesday, drawing people from across the country.
Prominent among them are political, traditional and religious leaders. But the civil society, displaced communities, women and youth are there, too, completing a cocktail of representation from the grassroots and national levels – exactly what participants at this “Our Peace” forum are trying to achieve: inclusive and active participation of all these actors in peacebuilding in Africa’s youngest state.
“I feel the workshop allows us to own the peace,” says Rachel Mayik, a women’s leader from Malakal’s UN Protection of Civilians site.
The rest keenly listen or take notes, while others nod in agreement as they eagerly await their turn to contribute to the ongoing discussion.
“When people were not engaged, they felt that peace was only for those who signed – like the government, the IO (Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition) and the other parties – but now bringing the grassroots, they feel they are part and parcel of this Revitalized Peace Agreement,” adds Mayik.
Supported by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the United Nations Development Programme and various partners, participants at the forum are discussing how they can use their experience to influence and drive forward the implementation of the all-important peace agreement signed in Addis Ababa in September 2018.
They delve into a detailed scrutiny of the chapters of the agreement: formation of a Transitional Government of National Unity, security arrangements, resource, economic and financial management, as well as transitional justice, reconciliation and healing.
“We very strongly believe that it is crucial that communities come together across the country and participate in the peace process,” says David Shearer, Head of UNMISS, at the start of the forum.
“There needs to be a strong connection being made between the grassroots peace initiatives and initiatives that are taking place at the national level,” he adds, noting that the pace of the reconciliation and peacebuilding in local communities had inspired the forum and the possibility of community leaders to communicate directly with the national leaders so they can learn from one another.
“This forum clearly indicates our acceptance, and that we are beginning to build confidence in order to have peace in South Sudan. I am very optimistic about this,” says Teresa Sirisio, the Chairperson of Sudan African National Union, before concluding:
“I am very confident; the way we are working together as one family for one purpose, that is peace.”
The forum, participants say, has allowed them to highlight and share some of the challenges they have experienced, while underlining the need for national and sub-national actors to own the peace process.