Famine is not a choice

Families flee fighting in South Sudan

Today, Ash Wednesday is celebrated around the world by millions of Christians to mark the beginning of the Lenten season.

Lent is the period of 40 days which comes before Easter. It is a season of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. By observing the 40 days of Lent, Christians replicate Jesus’ sacrifice by fasting from food and festivities.

Most Christians do not fast for the full 40 days, but instead choose a vice or guilty pleasure to ‘give up’. Common choices are chocolate, alcohol, coffee and social media.

In the Western world, a place many Christians call home, it is easy to choose something to give up. In fact, many have trouble following through because of the easy access to so many types of foods and activities. Not everyone has this option though.

Giving up something for 40 days may seem as tough of a commitment as possible, so imagine if you didn’t even have the choice?


South Sudan is experiencing one of the worst economic and political crises today. The youngest country is in the midst of a civil war, which is affecting all aspects of life.

Most recently, a famine has been declared in certain areas of the country. It should be noted that in order for a famine to be declared, certain measures need to be met. These are:

  • At least 20% of households in an area face extreme food shortages with a limited ability to cope
  • Acute malnutrition rates exceed 30%
  • The death rate exceeds two persons per day per 10,000 persons

The war in South Sudan has caused high inflation as well. The spike in food prices, coupled with high unemployment (meaning no guaranteed income) prevents entire families from having any access to food and relying solely on humanitarian aid.

Additionally, South Sudan experienced one of the worst droughts in 30 years in 2016, which made farming the already depleted crops even more difficult.

Of the near 5 million people at risk, 100,000 are in immediate danger of starving to death.

This situation is more than unfair and sad. It’s simply unacceptable. Part of the war is over the vast amount of oil the country possesses. Once again, greed is being prioritised over the lives of human beings. World leaders need to work harder to pressure the South Sudanese government to end the war.

We will not remain voiceless though. IRT continues to support programmes in South Sudan (you can read more about them here) and we remain committed to support the country’s most vulnerable populations.

Please help us in our continuing efforts by providing a donation.