The Citizen (KZN)

South Sudanese eat leaves

- Nairobi

– South Sudanese villagers are eating leaves from trees and precious seed stocks as food runs out in areas where famine has not been declared, a humanitari­an aid group said yesterday.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said villages outside Aweil Centre County in the north of the country were on the brink of famine, which was declared in February in two counties to the east. “Eating barely edible wild foods is a coping strategy for communitie­s trying to survive a food crisis,” said NRC’s South Sudan country director Rehana Zawar.

“The bitter leaves eaten by families we spoke to are from the Lalop tree, and have limited nutritiona­l value. When families eat these leaves and little else, malnutriti­on quickly follows.”

Some 100 000 people are already in a state of famine in the counties of Leer and Mayendit, and aid agencies have warned another one million are at risk in the coming months. “About 40% of the people in Amothic are eating tree leaves. About half of the village are eating their seed stocks too,” said Deng Yel Piol, 48, the chief of the village in Aweil Centre, cited in the NRC statement.

According to the NRC, the consumptio­n of seeds is particular­ly alarming in the farming community, which will have few to plant in the next growing season.

The county is one of many in the region classified as in a “crisis” or “emergency” phase of hunger, a short way away from famine which implies acute malnutriti­on in over 30% of people, and at least two deaths per 10 000 people every day.

The food crisis is the latest in a vicious cycle of hunger blamed on civil war in South Sudan. – AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa