World Bank Commits Billions to Address Food Insecurity, Locust Crisis in South Sudan

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 14 – South Sudan will benefit from two new projects totaling $116 million that aim to strengthen the capacity of farmers, improve agricultural production, and restore livelihoods and food security.

This comes at a time when the East African nation is facing increasing levels of food insecurity despite increased production, with exceptionally high food prices constraining access to food for large segments of the population and desert locusts devouring crops.

Available data projects that 7.2 million people will face acute food insecurity in the coming months, which is the highest number since the country’s independence.

The first project is dubbed ‘South Sudan Resilient Agricultural Livelihoods Project (RALP)’, and will provide a grant of $62.5 million to support investments in training for farmers to help them efficiently manage their organizations, adopt new technology, and use climate-smart agriculture practices to boost their yields.

The funds will also be invested in tools, machinery, and seeds required to improving productivity.

The Emergency Locust Response Project (ELRP), which consists of a grant for $53.7 million, is the second project that is expected to boost South Sudan’s response to desert locusts by restoring livelihoods for the poorest and strengthening the country’s preparedness systems.

The project will ensure direct income to the most vulnerable households to allow them to produce more food for themselves and local markets, as well as use labor-intensive public works to provide income opportunities while promoting the restoration of pasture and farming systems.

World Bank Country Director, Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Sudan Ousmane Dione said the two timely projects provide a mix of investments in social protection and agriculture to address drivers of both acute and chronic food insecurity.

“The implementation modality supports a broader agenda of institutional capacity building for the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, and we look forward to collaborating closely with the government and other development partners to ensure that no one goes hungry,” the director said.

The ELRP includes two grants: a $50.7 million grant to South Sudan and a separate $3 million grant to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) which will establish a regional coordination platform that will, inter alia, provide support to the IGAD Member States, including South Sudan, to develop their own national preparedness plans and create a regional preparedness plan for desert locust and other transboundary pests.

The platform will also help move information to and among its member states on transboundary threats and responses.

“Desert locusts know no borders, so this crisis demands a coordinated regional response,” said Deborah Wetzel, World Bank Director of Regional Integration for Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and Northern Africa. “It is critical that every affected country acts urgently to control locust population growth and shares information and lessons learned to enable a speedy and effective response,” she added.

This is the third phase of the regional Emergency Locust Response Program, which has already provided financing to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Somalia.

The two grants will be the first World Bank-financed projects since 2018 to be implemented through government systems, specifically the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security. The financing for these projects includes $50 million from the IDA19 Crisis Response Window Early Response Financing mechanism.

The two complementary projects provide a continuum of support from stabilizing household food security through safety nets to investing in the organizations, capacity, and technology to move South Sudan’s agriculture sector to a development orientation.

The ELRP and RALP projects will be implemented in close coordination and collaboration with other World Bank-financed projects in South Sudan, such as the ongoing South Sudan Safety Net Project and the South Sudan Enhancing Community Resilience And Local Governance Project.

They will also prioritize close collaboration with donors to coordinate implementation across the country and to partner on the broader reform agenda to move South Sudan from humanitarian aid to a development focus.

The funding comes at a time when the World Bank has revealed in a report that poor nations are yet to begin recovering even as advanced nations begin to pick up fueled by widespread Covid-19 vaccinations.

The global economy is now expected to grow 5.6 percent this year, 1.5 points faster than projected in January — the fastest post-recession bounce back in 80 years.

However, the bank warns that many countries, especially poor nations, are being left behind and will take years to return to their pre-pandemic levels.

The report dubbed ‘Global Economic Prospects’ indicates that low-income countries are struggling with rising prices for food, which accounts for about half of household consumption.

According to the report, this has led to growing food insecurity in those nations.

Wanjiku Njuguna is a Kenyan-based business reporter with experience of more than eight years.

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