January 2020 Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC)1 analysis results showed that an estimated 10% of the population in Western Akobo was classified in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) for the current period and 5% in the projection of February to April 2020.2 The level of food insecurity encountered in Western Akobo through this assessment lines up with the IPC findings.
Vulnerable households were found to be facing extreme hunger with limited access to coping mechanisms and community support. Cereals are almost completely unavailable outside food distributions, and milk is only accessible to those with access to cattle in distant pastures. The current situation can largely be attributed to a series of shocks:
Following the start of the civil war in 2013, insecurity reached a peak with an offensive in Western Akobo in 2017. This severely disrupted livelihoods and led the wealthiest households to move away.
In 2019, after two consecutive years of bad harvests, local crops were almost completely destroyed by flooding. The flooding also disrupted movement between locations within and outside Western Akobo.
As flood waters receded, beginning in November 2019, focus group discussion participants reported that they faced intensified cattle raiding. Rural populations moved to semi-urban areas (Walgak, Weichjol, and Boung), and do not travel much due to perceived insecurity.
The geographic isolation caused by flooding and perceived insecurity reportedly cut off access to traditional cattle camps and fishing grounds. As a result, residents continue to rely on collecting wild foods and fishing in Walgak, Weichjol, Boung and Kaikuny of Western Akobo, which is reportedly leading to the exhaustion of these resources.
As the population primarily consists of poor and very poor households, with little access to food, strategies that rely on support from the wider community, such as begging, are reportedly no longer effective methods of coping with food insecurity. Households with underlying vulnerabilities and a lack of kinship support are most severely affected by food insecurity.
Although the frequency of humanitarian food aid deliveries has been increased, it is reportedly not sufficient to feed the entire population, and does not reach all households in Western Akobo. Households that are not being reached reportedly include some that were unable to attend biometric registration in November 2019 because they lived in parts of Western Akobo that were cut off due to flooding, causing them to not receive food aid in January 2020. Additionally, there are individuals among vulnerable members of the community who have not been identified and assisted as such due to gaps in targeting policies.
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