IMA, partners respond to famine in South Sudan

As dire as the situation is in South Sudan, it’s about to get worse. The rainy season is expected to begin any day now, and the flooding will multiply suffering in the world’s newest country. After the rain starts, it will be nearly impossible for health workers to reach people who need care and it will be difficult to transport medicine to reach clinics.

Families line up to receive long-lasting insecticide-treated nets during a distribution in South Sudan in 2016. Distributing nets that protect people from mosquitoes that carry malaria is one of the many ways IMA continues to provide health, healing and well-being for everyone in the world’s youngest country. (Photo by IMA staff)

Sudan Medical Care, a longtime IMA World Health partner, is already responding to a deadly outbreak of cholera in Bor and Duk County with meager supplies and staff. Dr. Deng Mayom Deng, Executive Director of SMC, said the cases were unexpected and SMC clinics were not prepared for the more than 200 patients who arrived in the last few weeks.

The outbreak is a result of ongoing insecurity and looming famine in South Sudan. Nearly 5 million men, women and children are at immediate risk for starvation following the World Food Programme’s declaration of a famine event in South Sudan. Regional violence and climate change have affected the ability of people to raise livestock, farm vegetables or harvest grains. Hunger in the country is at its worst point since fighting erupted more than three years ago between rival forces – the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, loyal to President Salva Kiir and the SPLA in Opposition backing First Vice-President Riek Machar.

IMA World Health has been operating in South Sudan since 2008 and is one of the few international health service delivery organizations continuing to address critical needs in South Sudan. Operating primarily in Jonglei and Upper Nile states, IMA has worked with the South Sudan Ministry of Health, World Bank and other partners, such as SMC, to provide clinics and other points of access to basic medical services to about 25 percent of the country’s population, despite ongoing challenges of violence and instability.

Thanks to the generosity of IMA members Lutheran World Relief, the Disciples of Christ’s Week of Compassion and the United Church of Christ, as well as gifts from many generous individuals, IMA’s emergency appeal for famine relief in South Sudan has expanded. Our $500,000 goal will purchase more durable mobile care units to address malnutrition.

There is still time to help the people of South Sudan, but the clock is ticking and there is much that needs to be done. We ask that more partners join us in offering life-sustaining support. Read our expanded appeal and visit for updates.