Fighting Famine: Disease rife as aid struggles to reach South Sudan's starving families

In a week of special coverage, ITV News is taking a closer look at how widespread starvation is threatening countries in parts of the Middle East and Africa.

Here Dorothy Sang, Oxfam’s South Sudan Campaign Manager, tells ITV News why it is a race against time to prevent a devastating famine in the country.

Operating in South Sudan is a challenge.

It’s not just the difficult terrain of miles of swamp in some places and a lack of decent roads. It’s often the [man\-made barriers](http://South Sudan hikes entry fees for aid workers), the insecurity that makes it hard for humanitarians to reach the most vulnerable.

Panyijar county sits next to the frontline of some of the heaviest fighting we are seeing in South Sudan today.

It is no coincidence that this frontline is also home to the 100,000 people who have been hit by deadly famine.

South Sudan's food shortage is believed to be man-made Credit: ITV News

Right now there are hundreds of people who are continually moving down through Panyijar county in search of food and safety.

The people we have met on the route speak of hunger and fear.

Many have travelled for days on foot to reach generous host communities, who themselves are now sharing the little food they have with their neighbours.

They are all waiting for that next food assistance in order to survive.

100,000 are already fighting the effects of starvation Credit: AP

There are also several small islands between Leer and Mayandit and Panyijar mainland.

According to estimations some 5,000 people now live on these islands, most of which have no access to aid.

People on these islands rely on the little that they have around them – water lilies and fish.

With no toilets and little access to fresh water, disease and hunger are rife.

Currently Panyijar county, where Oxfam works, is considered to be in the last stage before famine.

We know that with access to humanitarian aid, famine can be averted.

But it is a race against time.

With fierce fighting continuing further up the swamps and the likelihood that access will become harder once the rains start in April/May, the humanitarian response must have the funding and the access to reach the most vulnerable right now.

That is why Oxfam is providing an innovative canoe voucher scheme – to help isolated communities who have fled the deadly fighting to safely access essential aid.

For those living on the islands, Oxfam has provided boreholes and fitted latrines to stop the spread of deadly diseases like cholera.

Many people are forced to walk for days to find food Credit: ITV News

If we are to stop famine spreading across the country, Oxfam and other humanitarian agencies desperately need funds and guaranteed access to reach the most vulnerable before the rains come.

Any later and it will be even more difficult to reach communities and for them to reach us.

You can help us achieve this by donating here.