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publication July 2, 2021

South Sudan Economic Update: Support to Agricultural Investment and Economic Reforms Critical for Sustainable Food Security

Latest Issue: 
  • June 2021


  • The latest World Bank economic analysis for South Sudan shows that the economy is expected to decline in FY2020/2021, widening poverty and food insecurity at household level
  • To eradicate poverty and food insecurity in South Sudan, the report recommends addressing the underlying causes of conflict and supporting agriculture sector development
  • To address the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic, the report suggests strengthening systems of service delivery and improving budgeting and allocation of resources to support livelihoods and broad-based economic recovery

JUBA, July 2, 2021— The World Bank’s new economic analysis  for South Sudan recommends support to agricultural investments and fast-tracking economic reforms as critical for sustainable food security.

The 4th edition of the South Sudan Economic Update, Pathways to Sustainable Food Security,  acknowledges that concurrent setbacks in the economy, widening poverty and food insecurity, including the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and a resurgence of conflict that has forced a great percentage of South Sudanese people to lose their sources of livelihood, and has left some communities facing catastrophic needs. .

The report also reveals notes  that food insecurity has been driven through secondary channels including displacement, decreased crop production, disrupted distribution systems and markets, with most households facing limited access to a variety of food types. As a result of limited diversity and poor quality of food, acute malnutrition is widespread.

“My family has lost everything due to war and now we have nothing to eat, the high inflation has made food prices not affordable for the poor,” said Wani Elisa, 42, one of several South Sudanese citizens who lost employment at the start of COVID-19. “My family now depends on handouts from relatives and good Samaritans. I need peace restored in South Sudan so that we can start rebuilding our shuttered lives.”

After a decade of independence, South Sudan’s economy grew, with gross domestic product (GDP) estimated at 9.5% in FY2019/20. However, due to falling oil prices in the global market, and concurrent shocks to GDP growth in FY2020/21 is projected to contract by -4.1%. The COVID-19 pandemic and climatic conditions are also exacerbating poverty, access to services and general living standards for many South Sudanese.

However, the signing of the most recent truce in September 2018, and subsequent formation of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) in February 2020, had provided hope for recovery and peace building. Nonetheless, South Sudan still faces the risk of reversing these gains, with increased incidents of concurrent shocks and the intensity in subnational violence that threatens stability.

“Looking ahead, we expect the South Sudanese economy to recover provided that the authorities adhere to agreed upon reform priorities,” said Joseph Mawejje, World Bank Economist. “Developments in the oil sector will continue to play a critical role, but favorable climatic conditions and peace and security are also essential elements. Recent advances in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine have raised hopes that the global economy could recover faster, which should support a sustained uptick in oil prices, more foreign direct investment, and remittances for South Sudan.”

Looking ahead, the report predicts that the South Sudanese economy is expected to recover from FY2021/22 and beyond, benefitting from a rebound in the oil sector, public financial management reforms, sustainability of peace and security in the country and averting climatic shocks.

Recommendations include:

  • Intensify efforts to address the underlying causes of conflict and to restore peace and stability to provide a strong basis for economic recovery and sustainable growth.
  • Maintain commitment to economic and public finance management reforms to stabilize the economy, to ensure the efficient use of public funds, and to build credibility with the public and development partners.
  • Improve budgeting and allocation of resources for service delivery to support improved living standards and broad-based economic recovery.
  • Adopt a multifaceted approach to address food insecurity that recognizes that the stabilization of smallholder agriculture will require public safety to enable the voluntary return of IDPs and refugees.