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Reaching families threatened by famine

Rapid response teams on the ground in South Sudan

Story by World Food Programme March 1st, 2017

By George Fominyen

Famine in South Sudan is affecting about 100,000 people who have received limited humanitarian assistance for months – if not years – because of recurrent fighting and other obstacles to relief organizations in Leer, Mayendit and Koch counties.

The World Food Programme (WFP) is doing its utmost to reach people with the most acute needs, through emergency rapid response teams active in areas including Thonyor, Leer County.

Here, an inter-agency rapid response mission was deployed in February to provide assistance to about 36,000 people.

A WFP helicopter arrives with supplies of nutrition items and vegetable oil. Photo: WFP/George Fominyen

Two-year-old Nyantaba Gakier and her family had been living on an island for eight months after they fled fighting in their home village of Meer in Unity State of South Sudan.

Nyantaba was admitted for malnutrition treatment immediately after a health screening.

Two-year old Nyantaba Gakier eats nutritious food provided by humanitarian partners in Thonyor. Photo: WFP/George Fominyen

Nyalel Mayang, her husband and three children have come to Thonyor to receive humanitarian assistance. They had been hiding on an islet in the swamps for three months after their village was attacked. They ate water-lily and palm nuts.

The WFP team provided specialized food to treat malnourished mothers and young children.

Nyalel Mayang and her family ate water-lilies and palm nuts after fleeing their village. Photo: WFP/George Fominyen

The first job for the rapid response team in Thonyor was to conduct a head count and registration, to verify how many people were there.

This lets WFP’s team know how much food they need to airdrop, so that food distributions can start as soon as possible.

Rapid response teams have been deployed also to Koch, Mayendit and Panyjiar counties, where they are providing food and nutrition support to tens of thousands of people.

A member of the WFP rapid response team inks children during a head count and registration. Photo: WFP/George Fominyen

WFP teams are working with partners including UNICEF, FAO, WHO and MedAir to provide an integrated package of nutrition and health support.

This boy in Thonyor made a toy plane from a box that used to contain WFP vegetable oil.

This boy in Thonyor found a novel use for a vegetable oil box. Photo: WFP/George Fominyen

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South Sudan