One month after South Sudan famine declaration, it’s a race against the rains to save lives – Oxfam

Africa, Campaigns and Advocacy, East Africa, Emergencies, Humanitarian Advocacy, Media Releases, News article written on the 21 Mar 2017

One month since famine was declared in two areas of South Sudan on 20 February 2017, it’s a race against the forthcoming rains to save lives, Oxfam warned today.

The annual rainy season, which starts in April or May, will make conditions even more difficult for the people in need of help and the aid agencies trying to reach them.

Flooding makes roads and airstrips impassable, communities sheltering from the conflict on islands even more isolated, and causes a rise in cholera and other water-borne diseases.

Oxfam welcomed the Australian Government’s announcement of an additional $20 million for South Sudan and Somalia in February, which includes funding for our lifesaving work in South Sudan. Oxfam calls on the international community to be generous because of the scale of the need.

Sara Almer, Country Director for Oxfam in South Sudan, said, “The people of South Sudan are doing all they can to support their families and their neighbours, but it’s a daily struggle for survival. Fighting has forced millions of people to leave their homes, livestock, and belongings behind.  Other communities have generously welcomed them, sharing what little they have. But they need more support now as the window to save lives is closing.

“Once the rains begin, it is even more difficult to reach isolated communities. It’s hard to keep water sources clean and cases of cholera and diarrhea will needlessly take even more lives. The rainy season is difficult under any circumstances, but this year will likely be worse, as so many people are already malnourished, away from their homes and have fewer resources to withstand this demanding time.”

Ongoing conflict has left 7.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, and half the country’s population are expected to be affected by extreme hunger by July, if they don’t receive help now.

“Ultimately what the people of South Sudan need is an end to the conflict. Until then, humanitarian organisations need support and safe access to communities in order to continue providing life-saving aid and longer-term assistance,” Ms Almer said.

“The response from the public has been extremely generous and is saving lives every day, but hunger and the impending rains present a deadly combination and aid agencies needs those funds right now. Lives depend on it.”

Oxfam is distributing food to more than 415,000 people as well as providing more than 140,000 people with clean water and sanitation, which are equally important to keep people healthy and famine at bay.

Donations to support Oxfam’s emergency responses in South Sudan and around the world can be made online at or by calling 1800 034 034.

For interviews or more information, please contact Dylan Quinnell on 0450 668 350 or

Notes to editors:

For haunting photos of our emergency response in southern Unity State – just south of the county declared to be in famine – see:

Oxfam has been assisting populations in South Sudan since the 1980’s providing food security and water, sanitation and hygiene assistance. In the past year alone, Oxfam has helped over 600,000 people across the country with food and water distributions and longer-term aid, and assisted almost 40,000 of the most vulnerable in Panyijar county, Unity State.