by Denis Elamu
JUBA, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- The World Bank has donated 50 million U.S. dollars to three United Nations agencies to help address food insecurity and malnutrition in South Sudan, officials said on Tuesday.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN children's fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) said the World Bank's support, channeled through South Sudan's ministry of agriculture, is vital to maintain the momentum of helping millions of men, women and children who would face starvation without sustained assistance.
"With half of South Sudan's population struggling to feed itself and more than one million children suffering from acute malnutrition, this is vital assistance that will save many lives, while helping communities to help themselves," said Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF's Representative in South Sudan.
Famine conditions in the war-torn country have abated due to the massive emergency response, including large-scale food and nutrition assistance.
However, the UN agencies disclosed that six million people still do not know where their next meal will come from.
Across the country, more than 1.1 million children are estimated to suffer from malnutrition, with almost 290,000 severely malnourished in need of urgent humanitarian aid.
"The contribution from the World Bank is a step in the right direction towards ending hunger and malnutrition, which both threaten lives and are impediments to child development," said Adnan Khan, WFP Representative in South Sudan.
WFP will receive nearly 26 million dollars for food and nutrition assistance to 110,000 people particularly in areas with acute hunger and threatened by famine.
"Thanks to the funding from the World Bank, we can work towards a sustainable future by supporting the most vulnerable farmers, pastoralists and fisher folk rebuild their livelihoods," FAO's Representative in South Sudan Serge Tissot said.
FAO will receive nearly 8 million dollars to support the recovery of crop, livestock and fisheries production in areas hard hit by food insecurity.
The UN agencies will have individual agreements with the government but will work closely together in the emergency response.
WFP has assisted 4.2 million people in South Sudan so far this year, the highest number of people reached by WFP in South Sudan since independence. In July, WFP provided food and nutrition assistance for 2.9 million people.
FAO has assisted 3.9 million people with emergency livelihood kits (fishing, vegetable and crop), and reached 3.1 million livestock under an animal health campaign. In the coming months, FAO will be scaling up its response to farmers in the second planting season in the Equatorias.
UNICEF has ensured 1.5 million children (aged 6 to 59 months) received vitamin A supplementation, and more than 1.1 million children (aged 12 to 59 months) received Albandazole-deworming tablets, in 2017.
UNICEF has also assisted more than 120,000 children since January this year, who were admitted into outpatient therapeutic programmes and stabilization center services across the country for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition.