The horrendous cost of a plate of food

It is a crisis of catastrophic proportions, but it is hardly mentioned in the media. Millions of people in South Sudan are threatened by starvation. Aid organisations of the New Apostolic Church are doing their share to help alleviate some of the suffering.

Mark Lowcock, Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, briefed the Security Council on the situation in South Sudan on 7 December 2017. Two million people have fled the country. Seven million people—that is, almost two thirds of the remaining population—need humanitarian aid. Some 1.25 million people are currently in the emergency phase and are experiencing food insecurity. This newest development in the devastating conflict that has been rocking South Sudan is getting little press coverage.

“The poster of the starving child with a tear in its eye and a fly on its forehead has long since disappeared from the media. In South Sudan, however, this picture is once again a reality,” NAK-karitativ says in its latest report which was published just a few days ago. “Millions of children are threatened by hunger. Food shortages and horrendous prices are driving mothers to despair.” The New Apostolic aid organisation is now planning to provide daily meals in schools.

A full belly first

From 2008 to 2012 NAK-karitativ together with the New Apostolic Church Lower Saxony (Germany) and South Sudan built a kindergarten and an elementary school in Juba, the capital. This was followed by a water treatment system for the school and a medical station. A secondary school is currently being built and will be completed in 2018.

In addition, more basic aid was needed and provided. In 2016 and 2017, for example, in a joint effort with the aid organisation of the New Apostolic Church Southern Germany, food parcels were distributed to the families of the approximately 800 pupils. School meals at irregular intervals helped alleviate the greatest hunger.

School meals as emergency aid

“In the current situation, this ad hoc aid is no longer enough,” NAK-karitativ points out. Many families cannot even afford one meal a day. Even a simple bean stew costs more than a simple man earns on average in one day. Recently, David Beasley, Director of the World Food Programme, illustrated this with a striking comparison. “This is as if a New Yorker would have to pay 321 dollars for his simple lunch.”

Daily meals for the 805 pupils and twenty teachers will be introduced at the school for the time being. A new fundraising programme has been launched to raise funds for this. It is called Kindernothilfe (Emergency Aid for Children). Twelve euros, that is about 14 US dollars, are enough to feed a child for a month.

A joint effort to alleviate hunger

Besides NAK-karitativ, other New Apostolic aid organisations are also involved in alleviating hunger in South Sudan. Southern Germany’s aid organisation, Missionswerk, not only supported the school project but also Action contre la Faim (Action Against Hunger)—a global humanitarian organisation committed to ending hunger—which is also active in South Sudan.

And NAK-Humanitas from Switzerland did its share by donating to Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), which is working in Dadaab in Kenya, the world’s largest refugee camp. It has become home for displaced people from Somalia and South Sudan.

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Andreas Rother
South Sudan, Aid agencies, Social commitment