Civil society activists in South Sudan’s Jonglei State have accused government officials of stealing food meant for victims of floods.
President Salva Kiir donated the 12 truckloads of food to victims of 2020 massive floods while visiting Bor on 01 April, 2021.
Chairperson of the Jonglei State Civil Society Network (CSN), David Garang Goch, alleged that he saw some of the food being offloaded from a truck straight into shops at Bor’s Marol market.
‘The donated food is different from the food items Ethiopian traders are selling in their shops’, VOA quoted Goch as saying.
‘The colour and the writings are different. It is written “KKM”, and it was brought from Germany, so this food is different from what we already have, and now they are selling it’.
However, the Deputy Mayor of the municipality, Mabil Tot, who was tasked with distributing the food to beneficiaries, denied that officials had sold any of the donated food in markets.
He said that his office promptly turned over the food to residential community leaders for distribution among displaced persons.
But Tot said it was possible that individual recipients took the food to the market.
‘We distributed it [food] to the block leaders so that they can go and distribute it to the households’, VOA quoted Tot as saying.
‘Bor municipality has no capacity to distribute the food house to house, so we just planned to divide the food according to the blocks’.
However, Goch said that the amount of food he saw being offloaded into shops was too large to belong to individuals. He also said there was no reason food-insecure people would sell their shares of the president’s food donations.
He urged the office of the president to investigate what happened to the food donations.
Transparency International, in a 2020 report, ranked South Sudan the second most corrupt country or territory in the world, following Somalia.
The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public-sector corruption.
South Sudan has been struggling with communal conflict, plus the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and frequent flooding.
More than 1.4 million South Sudanese are displaced inside the country, with many seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, according to a report by Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE).
The years-long civil war has contributed to an economic crisis and below-average harvest that continues to send food prices skyrocketing.
The result has been a food crisis that has seen 9,000 people losing access to food every day, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).
Photo source: UNDP