UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
OLS Report Warns Security is Key to Preventing Possible Famine in 1999
Khartoum and Nairobi, 22 December 1998--Operation Lifeline Sudan's 1998 Annual Needs Assessment (ANA) warns of a bleak year ahead for more than 4 million Sudanese who have suffered from famine, fighting and flooding during 1998. According to the ANA, those living in Bahr el Ghazal and Upper Nile regions in the south and in the north's Kassala region are particularly vulnerable and will need assistance.
The report recognises that Operation Lifeline Sudan's (OLS) response to the Bahr el Ghazal emergency clearly helped alleviate the suffering of famine-affected Sudanese. Improved access, which parties to the conflict have helped guarantee since April, and the cease-fire covering Bahr el Ghazal, significantly facilitated OLS' efforts. However, the ANA cautions "A reversion to acute famine in Bahr el Ghazal and the emergence of the acute condition in western Upper Nile cannot be ruled out."
"Many people are surviving on a fragile base which insecurity could easily shatter, making a humanitarian cease-fire essential to averting famine in 1999," says Philippe Borel, the United Nations Coordinator for Relief Operations in Sudan and Head of OLS. "Even a few weeks of insecurity, especially in Bahr el Ghazal, could produce the kind of crisis we were confronting earlier this year."
The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that more than 2 million people will need at least 150,000 tonnes of food until October 1999. The agency warns hundreds of thousands of Sudanese will need food relief if fighting escalates in the Bahr el Ghazal and Upper Nile regions.
"It takes years for people to recover once they get caught in such a vicious cycle of desperation," says David Fletcher, Acting WFP Country Director for Kenya and Deputy Coordinator, OLS, Southern Sector. "Hundreds of thousands of families who have lost their homes, livestock and crops are still living dangerously on the edge."
In addition to insecurity, massive population displacements and flooding in 1998 complicated humanitarian access. Floods during late 1998 were the worst in Sudan for 50 years in some areas and adversely affected crop production, led to contamination of water sources and increased incidences of malaria, diarrhoea and other water-related diseases.
The ANA cautions that the situation in the Upper Nile region--where local populations suffered from inter-factional fighting and flooding in 1998--could deteriorate if insecurity continues to hamper relief interventions and/or large-scale population displacement occurs. By late 1998, persistent insecurity, especially around Leer, and flooding had displaced some 150,000 people, forced OLS agencies to evacuate, and limited humanitarian services to a handful of locations.
In northern Sudan, the ANA warns that humanitarian needs could increase in the Kassala region, where insecurity escalated in 1998 and may continue in 1999. Although the ANA stated there is no evidence of widespread malnutrition in this region, the population has limited access to food, which causes concern. The report indicates populations displaced along the border need shelter and other non-food items to strengthen their ability to recover.
"OLS' primary objectives are to encourage food production and self-sufficiency while bolstering health services. This is rarely possible if there is not a peaceful environment," says Ted Chaiban, Deputy Chief of Operations, UNICEF OLS, Southern Sector.
OLS has already planned interventions corresponding to the ANA's recommendations for 1999. UNICEF, as lead agency in the Southern Sector, and OLS non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are preparing to distribute seeds and tools to more than 300,000 households and fishing equipment to some 120,000 households in rebel-held areas. The agency in collaboration with NGOs will also increase support to nutritional feeding and medical training programmes and strengthen emergency water and environmental sanitation activities throughout war-affected areas.
The report also cautions OLS to continue to monitor needs in eastern Equatoria, where heavy fighting broke out in mid-September.
The ANA describes improvements in the Bahr el Ghazal region since the height of the famine. Global malnutrition rates in Bahr el Ghazal dropped from more than 50 per cent in May-June to 28.6 per cent in September-October, according to UNICEF-led nutritional surveys.
On the basis of the ANA, OLS agencies strongly urge for an expansion--in time and scope--of the cease-fire, which the warring parties declared in July and which will expire on 15 January 1999.
NOTE: Operation Lifeline Sudan's Annual Needs Assessment--which OLS carries out each year in collaboration with Government and local authorities--is a practical and important programming tool designed to help OLS agencies to determine and prioritise the most appropriate humanitarian interventions and to effectively allocate limited resources, including funding, for the coming year. It is regularly used to help produce the United Nations Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for the Sudan and provides donors with an idea of the level of resources OLS will need to avert humanitarian crises. (The UN plans to launch the 1999 Appeal by early February.)
To produce the 1998 ANA--which covers 10 regions throughout the country--OLS used surveys, assessments and information from UN databases covering areas in the Northern and Southern Sectors.
For Further Information Contact:
Lise Grande, UNHCU, Khartoum Tel (249-11) 783757
Gillian Wilcox & Elizabeth Kramer, UNICEF OLS, Southern
Sector Tel (254-2) 622403
Brenda Barton & Lindsey Davies, WFP, Nairobi Tel (254-2)
Date: Tue, 22 Dec 1998 15:31:57 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: SUDAN: OLS Annual Needs Assessment report 1998.12.22
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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