High Level Event on Hunger and Famine Prevention

Response Statement by Gloria Modong Morris, Ed Titi Foundation

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, and distinguished colleagues – It is an honour to be here and I thank the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, for this invitation.

Today, I am speaking as the director of the Titi Foundation, an organization fighting for the rights of all marginalized communities, particularly those of women and girls, in South Sudan, a country torn apart by decades of war and incredible human suffering.  But, for me, this is deeply personal, as I also stand before you as a South Sudanese woman and a former refugee of my homeland.

In my life, I have experienced war, displacement, disease, hunger and witnessed gender-based violence, abuse and exploitation.  Yet, what I am currently witnessing in South Sudan is beyond even my imagination. As I am speaking now, 60% of my people are struggling to find enough food each day, and nearly 2.5 million people are risking famine if they do not receive immediate aid. 

Hunger does not discriminate, but prevailing gender inequality does make women and girls the most vulnerable in the face of hunger and conflict. In a country where feeding one’s family is considered a woman’s duty, being unable to do so increases women’s and girls’ gender-based violence risks. This reality only worsens in conflict, as women take on greater care burdens and find it increasingly difficult to produce and provide food for themselves and their families, directly impacting children’s nutrition.

The convergence of conflict, climate change, as seen by the recent floods displacing hundreds of thousands from their homes and destroying agricultural land and gender inequality, with the economic crisis due to Covid-19, is making more and more people hungry and costing more real human lives.   

This task is daunting but there are concrete actions that donors, national governments, and the international community can, and must, take.

  1. You must immediately fund the famine response, including directly funding local actors. Member states from G7 countries need to turn their promises into action and other countries must also step up;
  2. You must address the root causes of hunger and poverty. This means ending conflict by deploying all your diplomatic powers and influence, while holding all parties to conflicts accountable for safeguarding humanitarian space and for protecting civilians, including women and girls.
  3. You must invest in preventing climate induced disasters through gender responsive early warning systems, disaster risk reduction, community-based adaptation and anticipatory action.
  4. You must acknowledge that gender inequality creates disproportionate effects of hunger on women and girls, increasing their risk of famine and of violence. If we fail to grasp this reality, we will fail to effectively counter famine. Women and girls must be protected and empowered to have full, equal and meaningful participation in prevention and response efforts, as well as in conflict resolution processes.   

I am fully aware of my own obligations and responsibilities as a civil society leader to prevent and respond to chronic hunger and famine in my country. But, today, I solemnly call upon you to stand in solidarity. Please ACT NOW.