South Sudan: What Happens When the Rains Come Down?

If you think South Sudan is in bad shape now, think again. It could get worse. A lot worse. In May, the rainy season begins, and the country is hopelessly unprepared for the deluge.

Whichever god you believe in, he was in a good mood the day he created South Sudan. Aside from the huge reservoirs of oil upon which the country sits, it boasts vast swathes of some of Africa's most fertile soil, a gentle, forgiving tropical climate and a rainy season which arrives like clockwork every May - not to mention year-round sunshine.

Unlike in the harsh desert scrublands further north in Sudan proper, food grows here, in abundance. No one should go hungry.

Humans, however, have a strange way of squandering their good fortune. South Sudan, for all its natural blessings, is on the brink of famine - and it only has itself to blame.

This May, when the rains come down, few farmers will have planted seeds in preparation. Still fewer will remain on their land to till and reap and profit from a plentiful harvest. And, in the unlikely scenario that the country does produce enough food to feed its population of ...