Inflammation and stories on Sudan

Teacher shortage in Sudan
A teacher shortage in Sudan is occurring.
More than 6.9 million children do not attend school because of the country’s “lack of sufficient teachers, infrastructure, and … enabling learning environment[s].” However, many more factors play into this shortage of educators and the plunge in school attendance that has taken place in recent years.

Threats Towards Teacher Employment

Many believe that the teacher shortage in Sudan could be a consequence of the South Sudanese Civil War. In July 2011, South Sudan announced its independent statehood from Sudan, sparking a violent war in 2013 and the implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement in September 2018. County education director Malish William pins the lack of teachers on the fact that many of the country’s licensed educators escaped to refugee camps in 2016.

However, another factor playing into the lack of educators is Sudan’s economy, as it has struggled immensely since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The country has lost more than 3,159 citizens due to the pandemic as of December 2021 and the state of the economy has declined especially regarding its “fiscal health and monetary freedom.” Without the funds to send their children to school, many Sudanese families have opted to remove their children from the education system and instead send them directly to work. Arshad Malik, Country Director of Save the Children in Sudan, states that children without access to adequate schooling will cause “more girls and boys will lose their childhoods to [labor], marriage, and other rights violations.”

Many children in Sudan are already falling victim to these effects. Nine-year-old Zahra Hussein dropped out of school after only finishing second grade in order to help her family stay financially afloat. Hussein stated she was third in her class prior to leaving the school, consistently attending class and proving to be an impressive student.

Uncertainties in Educators’ Salaries

The Sudanese government’s declining economic state also leaves salaries as an uninsured luxury for teachers. Many teachers leave volunteer positions for careers with secure payments, forcing many children to miss important lessons because of the lack of educators. An anonymous teacher in Sudan claimed that many teachers leave the field because of the small salary that they are not promised. She explained that an entire year’s work sometimes does not even reach $100.

UNICEF

It is necessary for young children to attend school, where they are able to learn some of their most valuable lessons. Whether it be learning to read, deciphering shapes or meeting new children, education is vital to young minds.

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has chosen to do something about this ongoing problem. UNICEF has supported children and working families in Sudan since 1952. The agency’s Humanitarian Response Plan, proposed in 2021, acknowledges the 13.4 million Sudanese citizens that need assistance and suffer in the country’s current economic state. The plan presents solutions that can help provide for those in poverty.

With the help of the Ministry of Education and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNICEF will be working to advance the education system in Sudan and boost school attendance rates for refugee children. It plans to educate more than 1,500 students, encouraging the Sudanese government to rebuild schools and promise salaries for its educators.

– Aspen Oblewski
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Reduction in Sudan
Sudan is a Northeast African nation that looks to the Red Sea, with a population that now stands at 45 million. Sudan as a nation has faced extreme adversity throughout its past, as the occupation of Sudan by Britain and Egypt until 1956 manifested a series of civil wars that have ravaged the nation. Today sees Sudan in a dire situation, an ongoing humanitarian crisis has now resulted in a state of turmoil – with poverty reduction in Sudan now representing one of the global priorities for humanitarian institutions to tackle.

Poverty in Sudan

Poverty reduction in Sudan today, represents one of the most challenging obstacles for the nation, as well as global aid institutions to tackle. The current situation in Sudan is a multifaceted issue, according to UNICEF: “COVID-19, flooding, rising food prices, conflict and disease outbreaks have left 13.4 million people – more than a quarter of Sudanese – in need of life-saving aid.” As of 2020, roughly 77% of the population of Sudan was living under the poverty line.

Several factors represent the causes of the current situation in Sudan. Firstly, a prominent history of civil war and conflict in the nation has caused untold bloodshed across the span of decades. Secondly, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic would have a detrimental effect on the people of Sudan, as economically, the pandemic would further escalate the outstanding issues of low-wage income across the nation. Thirdly, after South Sudan gained its independence in 2011, a substantial number of Sudanese and South Sudanese were displaced as a result of the conflict.

Efforts to Reduce Poverty in Sudan

Humanitarian efforts in Sudan to tackle the ongoing and escalating crisis have remained one of the leading priorities in recent times. Leading financial global institutions such as The World Bank, have aided Sudan’s situation in setting up initiatives and projects that provide relief. The Sustainable Natural Resources Management Project, for example, which concludes in 2023, has provided invaluable assistance in promoting sustainable agriculture to provide much-needed water access to communities.

UNICEF has also played a vital role in poverty reduction in Sudan. According to data from the 2014 Household Budget and Poverty Survey, child poverty rates rose to 85% in 2020. To combat the extremely high rate of child poverty within Sudan, UNICEF introduced the Mother and Child Cash Transfer Plus initiative. This program helps to provide the most basic necessities to newborns and mothers, providing financial support, “health care, nutrition, water and sanitation, and child protection.”

In 2021, UNICEF released a Humanitarian Relief Statement highlighting the effectiveness of the important assistance provided. Among the most notable successes were increased access to education, improved sanitation and reduction in malnutrition.

The Future

Due to the unstable political situation that has enveloped Sudan over the past couple of years, the means of supplying humanitarian aid to Sudan has intensified. However, with growing hope that the situation has a solution, humanitarian efforts appear to represent the most viable option for poverty reduction in Sudan.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is currently in the process of attaining funds for its Humanitarian Response Plan. As of September 2022, the plan requires a further 68.5% of funding to meet its $1.9 billion total. The plan consists of 233 projects and will aim to reach 10.9 million people in 68 localities. As outlined in the plan, the three primary strategic objectives are to provide life-saving assistance and prevent mortality, to provide a greater service of basic amenities to vulnerable people and through humanitarian action, to lessen protection risks and needs.

– Jamie Garwood
Photo: Flickr

Civil Societies
On August 8, 2022, the United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken started his tour of countries in Africa to strengthen U.S. ties with African countries. The main goal of the tour is to highlight the benefits of a relationship with the United States, which promotes strong civil societies to tackle poverty in Africa based on democratic values. This is in contrast to having China as the main ally, which, according to U.S. officials, lures countries into a debt trap that hinders economic progress. Furthermore, a relationship with a democratic country such as the U.S. allows African countries, which have a dark history of imperialism, to improve their economy and empower their own people without feeling controlled.

Poverty in Africa

In recent years, African countries have been experiencing turmoil in the form of corruption, coups and authoritarianism, all of which have prevented them from achieving social, economic and political progress that can reduce poverty. For example, according to the World Bank, Mali’s poverty rate in 2020 was 41.9%, the latest poverty estimation of the country. However, the citizens in African countries have demonstrated willingness to achieve ambitious goals of reducing poverty through empowered, but fragile civil societies.

The people in these African countries are passionate about improving their countries and moving away from their colonial past. Secretary Blinken’s trip to African countries illustrated the desire of African countries to help their own people live better lives without a major power such as the U.S. or China dictating them. In other words, African countries believe that tackling poverty requires a vibrant civil society that democratic values powers.

Democratic Economic Assistance Improves Lives

Economic development is the most important goal for African countries considering the daily struggles of their own citizens. Thus, it comes as no surprise that African countries value economic aid from developed countries. However, the terms and conditions of the economic aid that developed countries hand down vary. According to the Council on Foreign Relationships (CFR), Chinese economic aid “sans the moral scrutiny and rigorous conditionalities associated with American assistance.” This opens the door to corrupt practices such as debt traps that hurt the average citizen in Africa.

The U.S. does not “direct state funds to roads and other projects” which could make countries vulnerable to debt, The Washington Post reported. U.S. economic assistance encourages strong civil societies to tackle poverty in Africa.

Security from a Democratic vs. Autocratic Ally

African countries such as Sudan and Mali have experienced violence that resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians. That is why African countries continuously seek security assistance from major countries such as the U.S. or Russia. However, countries define security differently from one another given how they implement it domestically.

For example, Russia provides security through the Wagner Group, a private group that deploys mercenaries that embolden repressive autocrats in return for “precious minerals like gold.” As a result, the Wagner Group committed “civilian killings” and launched “social media disinformation campaigns” which caused instability.

On the other hand, throughout Secretary Blinken’s tour in Africa, the White House emphasized “African contributions and leadership” in tackling security issues, paving the way for strong civil societies to tackle poverty in Africa.

Assistance with Governance

Some African countries have experienced turbulent coups that caused instability. Thus, countries such as Libya often request assistance with governance from other countries for stability. The issue of governance in Africa is delicate, however, with citizens in the region wanting to choose their own government without major powers dictating how they should rule. According to The New York Times, Russia, through the Wagner Group “props up autocrats,” such as General Mohamed Hamdan of Sudan in return for money and minerals that belong to the citizens.

According to The White House, the U.S. approach to helping African countries govern is by “backing civil society” and “centering the voices of women and youth” in determining the politics of their country. Thus, more democratic governance could make it easier for strong civil societies to tackle poverty in Africa.

The U.S. is far from perfect in terms of its foreign policy and aid to developing countries. However, Africans may finally get the chance to rebuild their countries and take control of their future after many decades of colonialism followed by turmoil after independence. U.S. policy favors civil societies which are the key to reducing poverty, empowering women and increasing the quality of life. Secretary Blinken’s tour reminded the world that “most Africans remain drawn to western values” and “the allure of the U.S. economic model,” The Washington Post reported.

– Abdullah Dowaihy
Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDS in Sudan
The global epidemic of HIV/AIDS began in 1981 and continues as a severe global issue today, especially in developing countries. Citizens of developing countries are at higher risk of contracting HIV due to factors such as having a weak immune system from prior infections, lack of accessible health care and inadequate preventative education. According to a 2020 UNAIDS report, in Sudan, a developing country of 11.19 million, 0.2% of people aged 15-49 are HIV positive, based on 2019 estimates. Not only is the number significantly lower than in Sudan’s neighboring countries such as Kenya (4.2%), Malawi (8.1%), Zambia (11.1%) and South Sudan (2.3%) but the percentage of people with HIV in Sudan is lower than the global average, which stands at 0.7% as of 2021. Not only is this a significant success for HIV news but this statistic breaks stereotypes about HIV in developing countries as well as overall rates of HIV/AIDS in Sudan are generally low.

Sudan’s Culture and HIV Prevalence

Sudan’s 0.2% HIV prevalence rating gives the country a “low epidemic” classification. Within the geographical region, Sudan’s most commonly practiced religion is Muslim, with 91% of the population practicing the religion. The Muslim religion follows the ideology of the absence of sex until marriage. Islamic teachings also prohibit homosexuality, adultery and intoxicants.

A 2004 study by Peter Gray researched HIV prevalence among different religions and Islam proved to have a negative correlation with HIV prevalence. However, despite these stringent rules, HIV still has some prevalence in Muslim-dominated countries such as Sudan. Muslim leaders initially did not see HIV as an issue in their countries, believing that the rules of their culture made it a non-issue.

In some ways, the conservative attitudes of Muslim societies have created additional barriers to addressing the HIV crisis due to prejudices and stigma, leading to a lack of awareness. Fortunately, over the past decade, more Muslim-dominated countries are acknowledging the prevalence of HIV/AIDS within their borders and are taking steps to increase awareness, preventative care and treatment. This is the case regarding Sudan as well.

The Fight Against HIV/AIDS in Sudan

By the latter part of 2016, Sudan decided to adopt the World Health Organization (WHO) “treat-all policy.” According to WHO, this policy means providing each and every person enduring HIV with “lifelong [antiretroviral treatment], including children, adolescents, adults and pregnant and breastfeeding women, regardless of clinical status or CD4 cell count.” The treat-all policy focuses on treating HIV as early as possible rather than waiting for its progression. This treat-all policy is associated with decreased mortality and transmission rates.

The Correlation Between HIV and Poverty

HIV/AIDS and poverty have several links. For instance:

  • Patients with HIV may find that their condition can get in the way of keeping a steady job, thus affecting a country’s employment levels. Research shows that unemployment among individuals living with HIV/AIDS stands between 45% and 65%.
  • People from lower social classes “have delayed treatment initiation relative to more affluent patients, reducing their chances of survival,” said the American Psychological Association.
  • Those living with HIV in lower social classes face higher mortality rates.

Despite being a developing country, Sudan still has a generally low HIV rate. This not only breaks stereotypes but also shows strides in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Sudan.

– Luke Sherrill
Photo: Flickr

Sudan’s Military Coup
Rival parties within Sudan are preparing to meet for the first time since October 2021, when the coup that continues to spark violence in the country took place. The political divide and often violent conflicts have worsened the state of poverty in an already struggling Sudan — Sudan’s poverty rate stood at 55.9% in 2021. The negotiating committee will consist of Sudanese military officials, political leaders representing opposing parties, and civilian leaders, with hopes to persuade the leaders of Sudan’s military coup to dampen the conflict in the country and reach some sort of compromise, which would ideally pave the way for government and foreign aid for the impoverished people of Sudan.

Origins of the Coup

In 2021, the Sudanese military carried out a coup that ousted its civilian partners in power. A transitional government had been put in place ever since protests in 2019 forced former President Omar al-Bashir to step down as leader of the country. This transitional government split power between the military and civilian leaders and was meant to last until the 2023 elections when the country would elect a new leader. However, just two years into this period, the military seized control, stating that it would take over until those planned elections.

Despite these claims, it is unclear whether the military will actually step down from power at that point. The commander-in-chief of the Sudanese armed forces, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, also issued a nationwide state of emergency when the military seized power, tightening the military’s grip on many everyday processes in Sudan.

The Coup’s Impact

Sudan’s military coup took place at an already tumultuous time for the country. The political structure in Sudan was fragile before any of these events, and it remains the same. The issue of whether or not the military will relinquish power in time for the elections hangs over the entire country. The coup’s occurrence has sparked protests against the military’s actions, with many organizations and activists urging civil disobedience. These protests have become violent, with 98 deaths during demonstrations, not to mention the large number of people detained for protesting as well, as of June 2022.

The economy of Sudan was already struggling before the takeover took place, but the situation has worsened. The military controls many corporations in numerous industries responsible for much of the flow of money in the country. This grip on these corporations has sparked hesitancy among international traders, including the United States, to conduct business with Sudan.

The U.S. condemns the military’s actions — in October 2021, the U.S. suspended a $700 million in aid to Sudan and stopped a 400,000-ton shipment of wheat scheduled for Sudan to receive later in 2022. In addition, around the same time, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) froze $2 billion in aid destined for Sudan.

Negotiations and the Way Forward

Since early 2022, the United Nations and various other international organizations have attempted to negotiate with the leaders of Sudan’s military coup, but to little avail. However, Sudan’s rival parties are now preparing to talk for the first time since 2021, providing hope for a way forward. On May 29, 2022, Burhan lifted the nationwide state of emergency, a necessary step in the right direction.

Assuming these talks go well, the 2023 elections will take place as scheduled and Sudan will vote for a new leader to take charge. Civilian and political leaders of Sudan hope to put an end to the violent protests, with many detained individuals from such protests recently released, another positive sign. If the military loosens its grip and the election takes place, aid will again begin to flow into the country, which Sudan desperately needs.

An organization still working to provide aid to Sudan is the Sudan Relief Fund, a nonprofit organization established in 1998, with the mission of providing impoverished Sudanese and South Sudanese people with food, water, shelter and medical attention. In 2019, the organization was able to distribute more than $3.3 million in aid and it has continued to assist during the military takeover.

All in all, it appears that Sudan is moving in the right direction, but only time will tell. In the meanwhile, organizations are working on the ground to assist struggling Sudanese people.

– Thomas Schneider
Photo: Flickr

Impact of COVID-19 on Poverty in Sudan
The African nation of Sudan has faced ongoing turbulence. The country has endured violent conflict, transfers of power and severe economic turmoil. For Sudanese citizens, one current and very dangerous threat is the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Sudan.

Political and Economic Challenges in Sudan

In the last 70 years, Sudan has seen two civil wars. The first lasted from 1955 to 1972 and the second began in 1983 and ended in 2005. Six years later, in 2011, Sudan split in two as a portion of the country seceded and became the independently-governed South Sudan. However, the data this article presents is not applicable to South Sudan.

Most of Sudan’s society is tribal and many citizens live in rural nomadic communities. The economy is struggling and COVID-19 has worsened these circumstances. According to the latest available data from UNICEF’s 2018-2021 Country Programme document, about 36% of the population is currently impoverished and a quarter of all Sudanese citizens live in extreme poverty.

Before 2011, oil accounted for 95% of Sudan’s exported goods, but Sudan lost all that revenue when the country split, which damaged the already fragile economy even further. When the South Sudanese civil war broke out in 2013, refugees rushed north and Sudan saw a dramatic increase in refugees. As of September 2021, Sudan hosts more than 1.1 million refugees from other countries, adding to Sudan’s strain.

The Arrival of COVID-19 in Sudan

As is the case with many low-income countries, the arrival of COVID-19 in Sudan presented significant challenges. Limited resources make it difficult to stop outbreaks. Due to minimal resources, case reporting and testing lag behind and the vaccine rollout is small-scale. As of May 1, 2022, Sudan has administered slightly more than 7 million vaccine doses, which covers slightly more than 16% of the population.

April 2019 marked then-President of Sudan Omar al-Bashir’s removal from office, and the following September, a new system of government came into place. Thus, it is unsurprising that when the pandemic began, the new government was ill-equipped to deal with it. Many health services had no choice but to shut down due to high rates of mortality and infection among employees.

After the appearance of the first COVID-19 cases in March 2020, the Sudanese government imposed a lockdown that lasted from April 2020 to July 2020, although this proved ineffective due to community resistance and insufficient law enforcement.

Impact of COVID-19 on Poverty in Sudan

As the second wave of COVID-19 in Sudan hit in November 2020, mortality rates began to rise among citizens of all ages. At the highest mortality point, one out of every five intensive care patients died from COVID-19.

COVID-19 also threatens Sudanese food security. A “survey of 4,032 rural and urban households across the 18 states of Sudan” from June 16, 2020, to July 5, 2020, reveals “the socio-economic impact of COVID-19.” More than 50% of people in Sudan could not access main staple foods. Many people had to change their practices regarding food and almost half of the families surveyed reported food security concerns.

Most people have not received any type of aid from the government. At the time of the survey, around two-thirds of previously employed citizens had not returned to work.

USAID Assists Sudan

Fortunately, the United States is lending a hand, and as of February 2022, USAID has donated more than 1.2 million vaccine doses and $98 million to assist Sudan with COVID-19. Aside from vaccine rollout, USAID is also assisting with food and water distribution, sanitation, COVID-19 testing, clinical management and public information efforts. USAID mission director, Mervyn Farroe, said in a statement, “USAID/Sudan is committed to building back a better world, one that is better prepared to prevent, detect and respond to future biological threats, and where all people can live safe, prosperous and healthy lives.”

Overall, the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Sudan has been hard-hitting. The country has endured significant stress for decades and recent political events compound issues and place grave strain on the economy. With more than a million refugees, a quarter of the population in extreme poverty and continuing impacts from the secession, COVID-19 in Sudan is the latest in a long list of reasons why Sudan is in dire need of international aid.

– Mia Sharpe
Photo: Flickr

Arab Spring
The term “Arab Spring” characterized a series of upheavals across the Middle East and North African regions (MENA) in which a surge of citizens defied their authoritarian governments. It all started in Tunisia in 2010 when a man set himself on fire in a demonstration against police corruption. Sudan joined the anti-oppression movement in an effort to eradicate oppression and poverty in Sudan soon after. Now, a decade and a new government later, the country finds itself in an ideal position to begin seriously addressing poverty in Sudan.

A Tragic History

For many years, the Sudanese have suffered the brutal dictatorship of an authoritarian regime. In 2003, Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) took up arms against their government in Darfur. These groups launched attacks against government facilities and army facilities in an attempt to obtain more financial and democratic power for the citizens. The subsequent conflict became known as the Darfur Genocide.

Both Sudan’s government, headed by President Omar al-Bashir, and the movements that opposed it were non-Arab. This conflict led to the deaths of around 15,000 people and the uprooting of millions of citizens. Bashir created a country dichotomized into Arabs and Africans, as opposed to a country that acted as a home for all Sudanese people. These conditions laid the foundation for the Bashir administration’s oppression of the Sudanese people. In 2011, the stage was set for the Arab Spring in Sudan. As a result of these protests, violence erupted. Throughout, Bashir retained his presidency.

Economic Challenges

Poverty in Sudan and socioeconomic woes increased following July 2011, when South Sudan gained independence from Sudan after Africa’s longest-running civil war. Considering most oil fields prospered in the south of the country, the most significant price Sudan paid was the loss of oil profits. As a result, Sudan’s inflation went rampant, provoking major upset among the Sudanese. The younger generations found it exceptionally challenging to find a job. Instead of addressing these issues, Sudan used most of its resources for military purposes. Additionally, a drought worsened Sudan’s already restrictive agricultural policies.

The failure of the industrial labor market caused unemployment and poverty to spread. The absence of economic opportunity prompted Bashir to eradicate nearly all civil society organizations. As a result, human rights and labor units shut down. Conjointly, due to Bashir’s Islamic leadership, women experienced extreme restraints. Indeed, Sudanese people experienced their basic rights stripped from them and those they loved, leaving them with exceptionally limited freedom.

Poverty in Sudan prevailed when bread, a basic food, became unaffordable. Violence and economic struggles contributed greatly to the oppression of the Sudanese people. However, the loss of affordable access to the most basic aspect of life, food, triggered the people to rise up and demand change.

New National Solidarity

One catalyst driving the protests was the desegregation of the different factions of Sudan. New national solidarity arose in recent years with the hope of ending Bashir’s rule. It was no longer Arabs verse the Africans. One example illustrating this was the chants throughout the northern and southern parts of Sudan beginning in late 2018. Multi-ethnic protestors chanted “we are all Darfur” while Darfur’s protestors chanted “we are all Khartoum,” demonstrating solidarity across the different religions and ethnicities of Sudan.

As the protests gained momentum, many more joined in hopes of replacing the regime with a government that could recover some of the economic loss. Public opposition groups played a key role in even the poorest communities. This ensured that everyone’s voices were on display despite their economic status. Women also took to the streets to protest the mistreatment they had experienced over the years, proving that all segments of Sudanese society engaged and committed themselves to the revolution.

A Successful Revolution

Sudanese citizens again requested Bashir to resign, but he refused. The government reacted violently, murdering a number of protestors. This only served to further outrage and inspire demonstrators around the country. Finally, the opposition assembled peacefully outside Sudan’s military headquarters in Khartoum, the capital, demanding Bashir’s resignation.

Critically, the revolution attained military assistance despite the military being a fundamental pillar of Bashir’s rule. In the face of the massive scale of the uprisings, the military began wavering in its support of Bashir. Leaders eventually determined that self-preservation was the only choice, and the military deposed the dictator.

Sudan Today

Despite the success in overthrowing Bashir, poverty in Sudan remains a major issue. Some 36% of the population lives below the poverty line. Poverty in Sudan exacerbates other issues, resulting in approximately 1 million children experiencing global acute malnutrition.

Due to its perseverance, Sudan is experiencing rebuilding. Many organizations are addressing poverty in Sudan. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is assisting in the establishment of early childcare programs in Darfur, Sudan. Additionally, the organization is going through an appeal process to raise $211 million to assist in humanitarian efforts. Some of the targeted recipients include 7.4 million children and 2.5 million internally displaced persons. Another organization committed to aiding the next generation of Sudan is Save the Children. In 2020, it helped 374,000 children by addressing poverty in Sudan through nourishment, education, protection and crisis aid. Doctors Without Borders also aims to improve the severely-lacking health care in Sudan.

A Brighter Future

The Sudanese have always fought for human rights and against tyranny. They triumphed due to their tenacity, finally ending a dictatorship that lasted for 30 years. Now, with support from its international allies, Sudan is undeniably on its road to alleviating the effects of poverty.

– Tiffany Lewallyn
Photo: Flickr

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

Addressing Human Trafficking in Sudan
Even with recent efforts to eradicate human trafficking in the impoverished country of Sudan, progress is still necessary. The nation still receives several cases of child smuggling reports every year. To fully comprehend the severity of this issue, one must first look at the recorded history of human trafficking in Sudan.

History of Trafficking in Sudan

Human trafficking in Sudan has been a major issue since the 1980s, and the country has since developed into a human trafficking hub. From child trafficking and trading to women’s sexual slavery, it has become increasingly difficult to combat the issue. Not only do traffickers traffick individuals at a concerning frequency in Sudan, but there is also a concerning number of underground trafficking operations.

Unfortunately, many cases in Sudan slip between the cracks of the more generalized definition of human trafficking. As of recently, an increasing number of cases involving the luring of victims under false pretenses has occurred. For example, several human smuggling cases specifically have reported that younger victims received promises of false employment opportunities. In reality, the smugglers were transporting the children for child labor.

Human Trafficking and Poverty

Domestic slavery, as well as sexual slavery featuring Sudanese women and migrants, is another form of human trafficking. This greatly contributes to the current socio-economic environment of Sudan. In efforts to deflate the national currency, traffickers sell and trade these people, predominantly women and children, for ransom. Most of these cases also occur within the country’s borders, and many often witness their existence. Because of the frequency at which cases of human trafficking in Sudan occur, the general public shows signs of becoming desensitized.

Speculation has emerged that one may attribute the disparity between the number of human trafficking cases that occur versus the number of cases being reported to internal issues. The corruption of the Sudanese government, as well as the current economic state of the country, only increases the severity of the issue. Approximately 47% of the Sudanese population lives in poverty, which is an additional motive behind the traffickers asking for ransom.

Taking Action

As of 2014, however, the Sudanese parliament passed its first-ever act to recognize human trafficking: the Combating of Human Trafficking Act. In 2019, the country developed strategies to address and prevent human trafficking. The protection of victims, as well as the influx of resources going toward the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT), has greatly improved the status of Sudan. According to the U.S. State Department, “Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) officials launched a unit to lead the government’s child protection efforts in conflict areas and provided training to more than 5,000 members of its military on child protection issues, including child soldiering.”

This act working to prevent human trafficking has greatly benefited the overall development of the impoverished country of Sudan. Additionally, bringing awareness to the urgency of this problem is one of the first steps toward bringing Sudan out of extreme poverty.

– Caroline Kratz
Photo: Flickr

Female Genital Mutilation in Sudan
In Sudan, authorities have declared that they will ban female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage, a monumental push forward for girls and women’s rights. Sudan will adopt the eradication of child marriage into all articles of the African charter on the rights and welfare of a child, reported The Guardian. Sudan’s authorities hope that these new additions allow for more protection for Sudan children. Here is some information about FGM in Sudan.

FGM in Sudan

Female genital mutilation involves the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia for non-medical reasons. Different types of FGM procedures exist, however, the core purpose is that it is a rite of passage into adulthood and a pre-requisite for marriage.

As of July 2020, laws in Sudan are making the practice of FGM punishable by up to three years in jail. By enforcing stricter laws against FGM, Sudanese government officials project a decline in FGM rituals. According to an in-depth analysis conducted by UNICEF in 2016, nearly two-thirds of circumcised women experienced FGM as early as ages 5 and 9 years and more than one-tenth of women married before 15 years of age.

Child Marriage in Sudan

People in Sudan commonly practice child marriage and about a third of Sudanese girls marry before the age of 18. Child brides are prevalent in Sudan due to several factors such as poverty, level of education and harmful traditional beliefs that younger girls are easier to socialize into obedience. Some Sudanese families believe they must marry off their daughters when they reach puberty to “protect” their chastity.

The Psychological Effects of Child Marriage and FGM

Child marriage and FGM can be detrimental to girls in Sudan as they can experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Sudanese girls are 23% more at risk of suffering from cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Child marriage can also often lead to domestic abuse due to a potential imbalance in the power dynamic. The inequality in power threatens young girls’ ability to negotiate contraception, risking frequent early pregnancies. As the Sudan government and world leaders fight to put an end to child marriage and FGM in Sudan, this could, in turn, decrease potential long-term damaging psychological and physical effects on vulnerable Sudanese girls and women.

Plan International

Plan International is one of the many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) helping to end gender-based violence amongst vulnerable children and young people in Sudan. Since 1977, Plan International has been working towards inspiring girls and young women of Sudan to reach their full potential instead of entering into a cycle of violence and poverty. Through advocacy, academic opportunity, leadership outreach and mentorship programs that address child marriage and gender-based violence, Plan International has been inspiring girls and young women to obtain new opportunities. Helping advance children’s rights and equality for girls through its programs and projects is how Plan International aims to aid in the fight to eliminate child marriage and female genital mutilation.

As a new era in girls’ and women’s rights is present in Sudan, the road is still full of challenges. The process of complete abolishment of these crimes against humanity might be extensive but world leaders have pledged that these crimes will no longer exist by 2030. Fortunately, the future looks promising as Sudan’s government officials begin to consider how to improve female’s living conditions.

 – Jessica Barile
Photo: Flickr