Heading off starvation in South Sudan

A recent New York Times article estimates that much of South Sudan could face severe hunger as early as May, with an official declaration of famine not far behind. This blog post, first published in January 2018, highlights how your support is reaching pregnant mothers and young children in South Sudan with life-saving nutrition. Please continue to help Lutheran World Relief be on the forefront of human need around the world with a gift to our World of Good campaign today.

A medical provider measures the arm circumference of a small child in South Sudan. The number in green indicates that the child is now in a healthy range. Meanwhile, a nurse measures a young boy’s height, and another nurse weighs a child using a scale hung from a tree branch.

In South Sudan, a severe food crisis fueled by severe drought and deadly civil war has left the country on the brink of famine. The conditions are exacerbated by extreme poverty, weak infrastructure and lack of access to basic services, including health care.

You are bringing critical aid to the most vulnerable affected by this crisis: infants and young children who are so severely malnourished that they are at risk of starvation. Many of these children are also suffering from malaria and other diseases, which exacerbate malnutrition.

Sudanese child being weighed in a bucket-like container suspended from a rope.
A child is weighed using a scale hung from a tree branch as a team conducts malnutrition assessments of young children and lactating mothers and hands out nutritional supplements at the John Dau Foundation compound in Duk Padiet in South Sudan’s Jonglei state.

 

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With your support, Lutheran World Relief and IMA World Health has set up three emergency treatment centers in extremely poor areas of South Sudan where there are no other medical facilities. The medical centers provide children and mothers nursing infants with 24-hour care until they are disease-free and the children reach a healthy weight.

They also offer outpatient monitoring and feeding program for children and mothers who are malnourished but healthy enough to be treated at home. The treatment centers are serving an area with a population of 290,000, of whom an estimated 4,200 are currently suffering from severe malnutrition. Another 11,000 people are believed to be moderately malnourished.

Veteran photographer Allison Shelley recently traveled to the region on behalf of LWR to document the crisis.

When Allison arrived, she linked up with staff from LWR’s local partner, the John Dau Foundation, which was founded by a former Lost Boy and provides healthcare and nutrition programs to the citizens of South Sudan.

The need was immediately apparent.

Adult man measures a child's height in South Sudan.
John Dau Foundation nurse Thon Dhuor, left, measures a child’s height as a team conducts malnutrition assessments of young children and lactating mothers and hands out nutritional supplements outdoors at the John Dau Foundation compound in Duk Padiet in South Sudan’s Jonglei state.

“The first day [the healthcare workers] did an assessment and measured the circumference of children’s arms and of pregnant or lactating women,” she says. “I would say half of the people we measured qualified for the program. Almost every household we went to had somebody who was referred to the program.”

The following day, villagers were invited to the clinic for food distribution and health screenings. They waited patiently as a light rain fell.

“This is an absolutely critical program,” she says. “These are the people on the margins of life and death.”

Thank you for your unwavering support for families suffering around the world. You are truly doing a world of good.

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