USAID Assistance to SudanUnited States Agency for International Development (USAID) assistance to Sudan offers hope to alleviate poverty in the struggling country. Sudan has a population of more than 44 million people, but as of August 2021, approximately 13.4 million Sudanese people require humanitarian aid. Citizens are grappling with conflict, food insecurity, economic crisis and the impact of drought and flooding. The onset of COVID-19 has only exacerbated issues of poverty in the country. Even though there were developmental gains in the past decade, the African country of Sudan is still dealing with widespread poverty, conflict and violence. However, with USAID assistance to Sudan, the country has the potential to make significant strides in reducing poverty.

The Economy of Sudan

The secession of South Sudan in 2011 is a leading cause of many of Sudan’s modern economic struggles. When South Sudan seceded, the most significant economic loss to Sudan was oil revenue. Oil contributed to more than 50% of the Sudanese government’s income and “95% of its exports.” Without oil revenue, the country experienced a lack of economic growth and “consumer price inflation” as well as soaring fuel prices. However, Sudan came to an agreement with South Sudan “to lower oil transit fees” in 2016 in order to address some of these issues.

While oil is still Sudan’s main economic sector, about 78% of the population work in the agricultural sector. However, the agricultural industry in Sudan is highly rain-dependent and very sensitive to “changing weather patterns” that lead to drought and flooding. This volatility can hurt the incomes of the many people whose livelihoods depend on agriculture.

The State of Poverty in Sudan

Sudan faces significant challenges regarding poverty. Sudan has “one of the highest rates of stunting in the region,” with global acute malnutrition impacting about one million children in the country. In addition, roughly 83% of the citizens live in rural areas and 80% of the population survives on less than $1 a day. Furthermore, more than a third of the country experiences food insecurity. The culmination of these factors means, on the Human Development Index, Sudan ranks 170th out of 189 countries. This ranking puts Sudan in the “low human development category,” according to the 2019 Human Development Index.

USAID Assistance to Sudan

“The United States has been the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to the people of Sudan for more than a quarter-century.” USAID assistance to Sudan aims to reduce poverty and provide immediate humanitarian relief. In June 2020, USAID gave Sudan roughly $356 million “to support the democratic transition in the Republic of Sudan following a peaceful revolution in 2019.” Of this funding, $20 million went toward the Sudan Family-Support Program, “a safety net administered by the World Food Programme” to assist Sudanese people “through a difficult period of economic reform needed to end unsustainable state subsidies on wheat and oil.” In addition, some of the funding went toward strengthening the COVID-19 response in Sudan.

More recently, on August 3, 2021, USAID Administrator Samantha Power proclaimed that the agency will provide more than $56 million worth of humanitarian aid to Sudan. The aid looks to increase healthcare resiliency by assisting with “emergency health care,” medical resources and the training of healthcare personnel. Furthermore, the funding will support victims “of gender-based violence by improving case management and training personnel on survivor-centered approaches.” The funding will also increase resources with regard to water and sanitation. Through this assistance, USAID strives to help approximately 13.4 million Sudanese who need humanitarian aid.

Looking Ahead

With the addition of this recent aid, the U.S. asserts its position as the most significant donor to Sudan, providing nearly $377 million worth of aid since the beginning of 2021. U.S aid to Sudan provides support for millions of Sudanese people who deal with food insecurity, lack of clean water and conflict, among other issues. With U.S. aid, Sudan can make strides in the fight against poverty.

– Kyle Har
Photo: Flickr

Help Reduce Poverty in Sudan
At the end of June 2020, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that it would assist Sudan in its democratic transition by committing $356.2 million to aid. The funding comes as a result of Sudan’s successful revolution at the end of 2018. To curb an economic crisis, the former government took steep measures, decreasing fuel and bread subsidies. This ultimately resulted in protests in Khartoum, the capitol. At its core, the protests demanded a higher standard of living for all of Sudan’s people. In April 2019, at the peak of the demonstrations, a coup removed President Omar al-Bashir. A transitional government made up of shared civilian and military councils now aims to promote a pro-democracy movement to eventually hold elections. It also hopes to help reduce poverty in Sudan.

An Ideal Government

Specifically, the civilians want a government that will support a better quality of life for everyone. This would curb the number of people living in poverty, thus reducing poverty in Sudan. A transition to democracy often provides a country representation of the people, increased social rights, economic gain and collaboration. However, failing to prioritize a financial gain can result in a corrupt government followed by a reduced faith in democracy. The transitional government’s commitment to accountability and transparency is of the utmost importance while democracy is forming.

The Poverty Issue

With a transitional government in place for three years, the country is looking to shift its way of thinking to better its citizens’ lives. According to the Minister of Finance, Ibrahim Elbadawi, around 65% of Sudanese lived below the poverty line. On top of that, ever since conflict began growing in 2014, 5.8 million people required humanitarian assistance. With additional funding, these numbers can decrease.

The money granted by USAID will go towards conducting valid elections, building more vital institutions and growing political engagement. This will significantly benefit disadvantaged people like women, children and religious groups. Primarily, USAID works in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and the Darfur region to assist. USAID has a Rapid Response Fund run through the International Organization for Migration on a larger scale. It allocates money for short-term funding to national and international relief agencies.

The Help of USAID

Programs that USAID provides to Sudan fall under the themes of food security, conflict and human rights. A database system through USAID’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network tracks crucial data on food security and potential crises. Then, they are relayed to Sudan and other donors. In conjunction with the database, during the fiscal year of 2016, USAID donated $175.1 million to food security programs through the U.N. World Food Program and UNICEF benefiting Sudan. Aside from the database, USAID works to better human rights in the area. In partnership with U.N. Women and the U.N. Population Fund, USAID advocates for promoting women’s rights and gender-based violence prevention. Additionally, other programs target youth and women groups in Sudan “to reduce vulnerabilities to conflict and build leadership skills to foster peacebuilding. They also improve livelihoods and help create enabling conditions for development.

With more funding from USAID, Sudan’s transitional government can not only strengthen its growing democracy but also help reduce poverty in Sudan. As civilians see the potential of democracy in Sudan, they will invest more faith in the transition and thus receive more.

– Adrianna Tomasello
Photo: USAID