Enduring food insecurity in Eastern Equatoria threatens a general security time bomb. Reports of criminality are on the rise in the area with local residents blaming the insecurity on poor harvests and sudden price shocks.
The citizens of Eastern Equatoria have been dealt a double blow as they start the New Year. The residents of Torit, in particular, have warned of an increasingly difficult situation.
Overall food security in Equatoria remains favourable, but the situation in parts of Eastern Equatoria is at odds with the rest of the region. The World Food Programme reports that acute malnutrition in Eastern Equatoria has reached serious levels.
The residents of Torit have been quietly enduring the consequences of a series of poor agricultural seasons. The cumulative effects of which have left them with alarmingly low reserves. Jerman Charles, Torit County Commissioner told Radio Tamazuj, “Honestly, this year the situation is very difficult due to little rains last year, so all essential commodities are not available in the market now.”
The situation has been made worse by soaring prices of essentials at the market. The Commissioner blames the switch from a fixed currency to a floating currency for the price hikes. The South Sudan Pound is tracking at around 18 SSP to 1 USD. Without a matching rise in incomes, already vulnerable households have found themselves priced out and are struggling to make ends meet.
Similarly, Joe Luis, Executive Director of Lafon County warned of the graveness of the situation in his own area. Residents in Lafon are resorting to eating leaves of trees due to a shortage of food and unaffordable prices at the markets.
It is therefore worrying that residents of Torit-Loronyo are blaming food insecurity for rising criminality in their area. Recently, three women returning from Torit with sorghum and other food supplies were allegedly murdered in a brutal roadside robbery.
The enduring food insecurity crises in Torit and other parts of Eastern Equatoria have overwhelmed local authorities, and they have appealed to central government and international NGOs for urgent humanitarian assistance.