Dr. Joseph Dumba, of the Healing Kadi Foundation, stands with children in Kajo Keji, South Sudan, in 2014. While the country endures war and famine, Direct Relief is actively supporting medical partners in South Sudan administering critical medical care. Direct Relief recently shipped over $600,000 worth of supplies to the Healing Kadi Foundation, including wound care supplies, blood pressure medicines and other critical products.
The tragedy of South Sudan is among the most well-known in humanitarian and foreign policy circles. Established to great fanfare and aid commitments as the world’s newest independent nation in July of 2011, South Sudan has since fallen into perpetual emergency. The culprits are many, including war, ethnic conflicts and endemic problems of poverty, poor health care, sparse population, rugged geography, and lack of fresh water or functional sanitation.
As of February 2017, the United Nations formally declared famine in parts of Southern Sudan. The global Famine Early Warning System (Fews.net) forecasts food security crisis conditions over roughly 80 percent of the country throughout the period from February to May this year. In the Northern Bahr and Unity states, food security crisis verges on catastrophe. Many households in these areas are unable to cope with basic needs on a daily basis absent rapid and large-scale humanitarian assistance.
The South Sudanese famine is an extreme crisis in its own right, producing severe malnutrition throughout areas long considered safe from conflict, along with deep physical and emotional stresses for children and pregnant women in particular.
But famine doesn’t occur in a vacuum; it is produced by complex social forces and abetted by the state failure.
In the context of the ongoing South Sudanese war, the famine is both the product and the accelerant of larger systemic failures cascading throughout the country’s social life. In terms of infectious disease alone, South Sudan has within the past year been