South Kordofan/Blue Nile Coordinating Unit, Humanitarian Update | March 2019
FOOD SECURITY AND AGRICULTURE
One third of the population has no food stocks and will not make it through the lean season
Most households have harvested their crops and are threshing sorghum. According to the Food Security Monitoring Unit (FSMU) latest quarterly report, ‘severe food insecurity has declined between October 2018 and January 2019, remaining at record lows in the monitored areas. The total population experiencing severe food insecurity fell to 1 percent, or 11,268 people, compared to 4 percent both last quarter and this time last year. Moderate food insecurity fell to 36 percent in January 2019 from 52 percent both last quarter and last year.’
According to FSMU, overall, food production, as of January 2019, improved compared with previous years, as stronger late rains and better far farms access increased farm production. Levels of production, however, are still lower than normal, due to the loss of arable land in Heiban and Umdorein because of the conflict in 2015, but the population has managed to organize effectively in the SPLM-N controlled areas of South Kordofan.
However, while this year’s main harvest was better than last year’s, according to FSMU, it did not provide enough for households to last through the lean season. CU monitors reported a growing number of the population already without food stocks in February, and those will [not] to make it through the lean season. As reported by FSMU, ‘in most of the monitored areas […] 34 percent of households held no stocks at all, below the 39 percent of last year and even farther below the 48 percent documented in January 2017.’ In Western Jebels, the share of households entirely lacking food stocks increased from 38 percent in January 2018 to 46 percent in January 2019.’ The situation is especially critical in Dilling and Lagawa. ‘Nearly 50 percent of Lagawa households reported no food stocks in January 2019 compared to 26 percent in January 2018’, noted FSMU.
• Despite lower food insecurity in January, food stocks were depleting fast in February.
• Prices are above average and expected to rise with purchasing power at minimum low.
• Military build-up leads to increasing local insecurity and reduced trade which undermines coping mechanisms.
• Number of cases of malnutrition is growing in both areas.
Food insecurity pockets have been reported by key informants in February in Western Kadugli and Thobo A and B (Al Buram). That is also due to an influx of returnees from both Khartoum and the refugee camps in South Sudan. Reports show that food shortages and insecurity are pushing Nuba people back to the SPLM/A controlled areas. Recent tracking organized by local NGOs has indicated that 112 people returned in late 2018, and 24 in 2019, most of the returnees still go unreported.
While according to FSMU, households reached record low severe food insecurity in January 2019, the moderately food insecure population continued to grow in Southern Kurmuk County of Blue Nile. Alarming levels of food insecurity were reported by CU monitors in February, especially in areas where erratic rains affected food production. Some areas with large and productive farms, such as Benamo in Yabus payam, have reportedly produced very poorly (20-30%). Production in Komo Ganza was affected by early flooding.
As a result, according to the Secretary of Agriculture, for 50-70% of the population in Blue Nile, food stocks will have ended during February 2019. In parts of Koma Ganza and Wadaka, food storages were already depleted by the end of that month and 75% of the communities were already depending on markets to meet their food needs. A recent assessment in the North-West part of Kurmuk revealed that people are mostly depending on roots and wild fruits. Food insecurity levels are expected to grow in the coming months.
Eight households were reported to have moved from Chali payam to Moguf due to food shortages.
Investments in restructuring existing river garden sites in Chali and Wadaga, in irrigation projects and in agriculture training should be enhanced in Blue Nile to reduce the effect of erratic rains and chronic food insecurity. Local food prices remain well above last year’s levels, threatening food access during the coming lean season.
At the same time, livestock prices are going down, for example in Western Jebels, affecting coping mechanisms of the population. Because of limited supplies, and the overall crisis in the country, prices are expected to rise. In February, most people could not afford buying commodities in the market. Sorghum prices in Dalami and Um Durain in February were up to 300 South Sudanese Pound (SSP) for a malwa. The sorghum price in Western Kadugli was 35 SDG, three times higher than in the rest of the locality under Sudan’s Government control (as per Fewsnet February 2019), at up to 65 SDG in Western Jebels.
In Blue Nile, according to CU monthly market survey, market functionality was partial in Balila and Mayak with fewer traders and customers than January. This is due to declining of purchasing power from local communities. Road status to Mayak is also an issue. No maize was available in the markets. Generally, market prices in the two markets fluctuate greatly depending on many external factors. On the other hand, Yabus and Moguf markets are fully operational with most commodities available and prices are more stable. Price of sorghum was at 400 SSP/malwa (100 higher than in South Kordofan). According to the Secretary of Agriculture, only 25-50% of the population can afford buying food from market.
Recent assessments in February were conducted in western Blue Nile and North West Kurmuk. People mostly rely on wild fruits and leaves to survive and the two markets, Hemura and Zosok, are functioning though very poorly and only for few hours a week due to insecurity.
137 cases of malnutrition verified, many more go unreported
There are 52 health facilities in the Central region of South Kordofan. Lack of transport, shortage of drugs supply, outbreak management and lack of health cadres training, are major challenges. The most common (STDs) and malaria. Acute diarrhea has apparently led to death of children in Thobo A and Dellami (CU is following up together with the Secretariat of Health). In Kattla Rural Hospital, 42 cases of malnutrition were reported. According to the health secretariat, many more go unreported.
A total of 28 primary health centers (PHCU) operate in the monitored areas of Blue Nile State: 26 in southern Kurmuk payams (Chali, Yabus, Wadaka and Komo Ganza) and 2 in north-west Kurmuk payams (Zosok and Hemura). There is no report of overall health deterioration in the region. However, STDs cases are high, especially in Yabus Bala which requires more awareness and prevention. Also, 95 cases of malnourished children were reported in February.
Animal health is affected by lack of water and veterinary services
Lack of veterinary facilities and drugs, and water scarcity, remain major challenges in South Kordofan. No disease outbreak was reported in February. The the availability of pasture, which has been increased due to the enduring cessation of hostilities, is contributing to improving the health of livestock. Nonetheless, cases of cough, skin rushes and Abuzegala were found in cows and goats, while a growing number of hens are dying, and investigation is ongoing.
In Blue Nile, animal health has also improved, with no case of death reported. In the previous two months (December 2018 and January 2019), 70% of livestock reportedly died across the region.
Lack of drinking water for animals and human remain the biggest challenge
Water is a major challenge in all counties in South Kordofan and Blue Nile with most of the water bodies dried up. People water their animals around the boreholes and water sources are shared. Serious water shortages have been reported from recent assessments in Blue Nile with reports forthcoming in the following weeks. People have to go up to two days without drinking and people walk for hours to draw water from water points, often shared with livestock. Drilling and maintenance of boreholes in the area is an urgent priority.
Primary school examination is progressing well
Students from all 265 primary schools in SK sat for the 2018/2019 examination, and all Primary 8 level have reported to have started the Form One in the 11 secondary schools in the region. In Blue Nile, the 2018/2019 examination of 2018/2019 started in 20 of the 35 primary schools in the last week of February. Functioning of schools in Blue Nile is still very poor, aggravated by the lack common curriculum, lack of school calendar, lack of teachers and limited community’s initiative to empower education.
SECURITY AND PROTECTION
Military build-up and widespread incidents of cattle raiding
The security situation was relatively calm but very fragile in February. Antonovs hovering was recorded multiple times and SAF military buildup troops along the frontlines. This contributes to creating local insecurity, with several incidents of cattle raiding reported on both sides. Tensions and fear have grown since the state of emergency was announced in February and military Governors were appointed in the states. Both, the reappointment of Yahiya as Governor of Blue Nile, who was there at beginning of the conflict, as well as the rise of Ahmed Haroun – the ICC-indicted Governor of southern Kordofan in 2011 – as acting chairman of the NCP, are controversial moves and perceived as threats.
Since the first week of February, a land dispute in the southern tip of Blue Nile has affected local security. The area of Tukabele in Komo Ganza is claimed by South Sudanese Mabanese. The market in Tukabele will be shifted closer to the border of Ethiopia from March 2019, for security reasons. Eritreans refugees from Assosa (Ethiopia) are reportedly moving towards South Sudan via Yabus check point. The reason is to gain resettlement cases, which they cannot get in Ethiopia.
Reported security incidents
1 February Uru village, Heiban County. Cattle raiders from GoS side took 22 cattle and 27 goats.
22 February Tassatu village, Thobo B County. Cattle raiders took 240 cattle.
26 February Balole village, Limirik payam, Lagawa County. Cattle raiders coming from Al-kuwak and Barno (around SAF bases), at 11:30 PM stole 160 cows and kidnapped owner. They were all released thanks to local community peacebuilding initiatives.
27 February Tura village, Heiban County. Cattle raiders took 24 cattle.
19 February Khor Garat, Yabus payam. 100 head of sheep raided allegedly by Fellata, taken to Maban (SS).
22 February Samari area, cattle raiding (Details not yet available).
25 January Pastoralists, reportedly Fellata, attempted to raid cattle in Belatuma.
* The SKBN CU reports according to the information received from a variety of sources.