Inflammation and stories on Sudan

Sudanese RefugeesMany refugees in Sudan fled on foot to Egypt to escape violent and impoverished conditions in Sudan. About 3.8 million Sudanese refugees currently live in neighboring Egypt, which is a popular destination for Sudanese refugees because the country is accessible on foot and the refugees are still able to receive help from relatives. Egypt is a close destination and for some, it is a stopping point before they attempt to flee to Europe, which is an even more dangerous route. Although they may flee to Egypt, however, many face adversities of discrimination and poverty once there.

Sudanese Refugees

Many Sudanese flee their home country to other regions of Africa due to political conflict and economic turmoil. Refugees in Sudan escape their country on foot to neighboring countries. When the first civil war started about 60 years ago in southern Sudan, Sudanese refugees began to flee to Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Many individuals have fled for different reasons; some flee to obtain better rights, but in particular, many flee to escape religious persecutions. One Sudanese man was targeted due to his Christian faith and the police told him to renounce his faith. The Muslim faith is prominent and individuals who practice the Christian faith have suffered persecution. Since he continued to believe in his religion, the man went to jail where he faced beatings and torture. After spending weeks in jail, the Sudanese man fled to Cairo, Egypt.

Sudanese Refugees Face Discrimination in Egypt

Many refugees in Sudan flee to Egypt resulting in a burden on resources. Overall, Egypt hosts millions of refugees who flee their country’s terrible conditions, only to face racism in Egypt. Some Egyptians will call Sudanese refugees slaves and other ethnic slurs. Some have faced harassment that brings up traumatic memories and flashbacks of violent conditions they experienced in Sudan, including torture and rape. Sudanese children are sometimes bullied in school. Egyptians and even refugees from other countries exhibit this behavior.

Some individuals in Egypt recognize there is a problem and acknowledge that Sudanese refugees are negatively treated. The president of Egypt, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi calls for his citizens to take action and to not mistreat Sudanese refugees. In 2018, an Egyptian court sentenced a man to seven years in prison for harassing, beating and killing a South Sudanese teacher who worked with refugees in Cairo.

Sudanese Refugees Face Poverty in Egypt

More than 5 million refugees in Sudan left their country to escape poverty but have subsequently faced financial hardships in Egypt. Sudanese refugees in Egypt are provided with 1,500 Egyptian pounds (LE) for every child from the United Nations through the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), with no additional assistance from the state. Thus, it is difficult for the refugees to pay for schools and other expenses. At the same time, it is difficult for a Sudanese refugee to find work in Egypt, even for those with higher education, since the residence permit does not allow work. Many who do find jobs work by cleaning houses and shops.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many refugees in Sudan have faced an increased level of previous hardships. A fifth of foreigners were vulnerable and lost their jobs from the COVID-19 lockdowns in Egypt. In addition, many Egyptians have lost their jobs and in return have been forced to let go of migrant workers from Africa and Asia.

A Sudanese charity has financially helped more than 500 struggling families whose breadwinners have lost their jobs. Eviction has been a major problem for Sudanese refugees in Egypt, some of whom are attempting to return home.

Many Sudanese refugees escape their home country, only to face similar problems. Impoverished conditions continue to follow them within Egypt, although many strive to work harder in the new country. Organizations within Egypt need to help to eliminate discrimination against Sudanese refugees to alleviate their added struggles.

Ann Ciancia
Photo: Flickr

 COVID-19 in Sudan
Sudan, a country in northeastern Africa, has weathered a civil war that resulted in the creation of South Sudan, a coup d’état and food shortages, all within the last decade. The results of these events include a stunted healthcare system and an influx of refugees, which has affected the nation’s response to the coronavirus. With the number of cases reaching tens of thousands, Sudan’s leaders must find a way to keep citizens and refugees safe from the virus. Here are six facts about COVID-19 in Sudan.

6 Facts About COVID-19 in Sudan

  1. As of August 2020, the number of cases in Sudan is continuing to rise. The total number of cases is over 13,000, with 833 deaths. Most of the cases are in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital. Since March, the virus has spread to all 18 regions of the country. This is alarming because rural areas do not have the same access to healthcare as the cities.
  2. Sudan’s healthcare system was fragile before COVID-19 entered its borders. Before 2020, an estimated 9.3 million out of Sudan’s 41.8 million people lacked basic healthcare and were in need of humanitarian assistance. With the coronavirus pandemic in full force, community resources and previously accessible services are limited. For migrants and displaced communities, losing what little healthcare they did have puts them at greater risk of contracting and spreading the virus.
  3. The government has restricted movement within the country. Since healthcare infrastructure is still being built, the government is taking containment measures into its own hands. While lockdown restrictions have eased in Khartoum, a curfew from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. is still in effect for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, though a handful of internal borders reopened and are resuming bus transportation, wearing face masks and social distancing are still required. As of August 2020, Port Sudan International Airport remains closed for entering and exiting the country; however, Khartoum’s airport is open for repatriation flights of Sudanese citizens stranded abroad because of the virus.
  4. At the same time as the pandemic, Sudan is experiencing heavy flooding, the worst in a century. As of September 2020, 125,000 refugees and displaced persons are suffering from these floods. Most of the flooding is in regions of East Sudan, Darfur, White Nile and Khartoum. As a result, makeshift shelters, latrines and buildings were destroyed, heightening the risk of disease in general, let alone the risk of COVID-19 in Sudan. Without access to latrines and clean water, many refugees in these communities are unable to wash their hands regularly, an essential COVID-19 prevention measure. Additionally, since the roads are too muddy for transportation to get through, these communities are not receiving the much-needed aid as quickly as they should.
  5. Luckily, global aid organizations are responding to this call for help. Working with the Sudanese government, the UNHCR is providing emergency aid to the refugees and displaced communities across the country. They predict the results of this flooding will be long term and have successfully appealed for support in this endeavor.
  6. Turkey is also assisting in Sudan’s battle against the virus. The organization Turkish Red Crescent’s donation has 1,236 items, including ventilators, masks and personal protective equipment for healthcare workers. Irfan Neziroglu, Turkey’s ambassador to Sudan, welcomed the donations when they arrived by way of an airplane in Khartoum.

Sudan was already enduring the aftermath of a war, political unrest and food shortages before the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. On top of that, unprecedented flooding destroyed the lives of over 100,000 refugees and displaced Sudanese. However, this has not stopped the nation’s efforts to contain the virus to the best of its ability. With help from humanitarian organizations, COVID-19 in Sudan will hopefully decline.

Faven Woldetatyos
Photo: Flickr

Women’s Rights in Sudan
For decades, the subject of women’s rights has been at the forefront of media and politics. While the world has made progress, women in countries such as Sudan are still fighting for equal rights. The fight for women’s rights in Sudan is in motion by opposing laws such as the Personal Status Law of 1991. This law allows child marriages and states that women can only marry if they have consent from a father or male guardian. Here are five things to know about the women’s rights movement in Sudan.

Women’s Rights in Sudan

  1. Women Make up 70% of Protesters. As women band together to protest in Sudan against laws and government officials who are in favor of limiting women’s rights, globalfundforwomen.org estimates have determined that in the Sudan protests, women account for nearly 70% of protesters. The women taking part in these protests labeled their movement as “the women’s revolution.” Due to the protests, many women have undergone beating or flogging, yet they still stand strong and continue to protest.
  2. Many Laws Women are Protesting Stem from Long Lasting Traditions. As tradition is a large part of Sudan’s culture, many of the laws women are protesting come from years of tradition. Nevertheless, women advocate for themselves despite these laws. The laws restrict women from things such as wearing pants, equality and representation in government, child marriage, amongst other regulations. Though some of these have roots in tradition, modern women are demanding they have equal rights. However, this is difficult as women are limited within government and law.
  3. Women in Sudan have been fighting for their rights for over 30 years. Due to the oppressive rule of dictator Al-Bashir, women in Sudan have had to fight for equal rights since 1989, adding up to over 30 years of subjugation. While inequality did not start with Al-Bashir, he did support and enforce laws to limit women’s rights in Sudan. He did this with military and government forces, beating, raping and murdering women speaking out against years of abuse and inequality.
  4. The Women’s Revolution Movement was a large part of overthrowing Al-Bashir. In 2019, women refused to stay silent as Sudan began to rise up against Al-Bashir. Even though they had to deal with persecution from the military, women continued to rise up against their oppressors. According to Harvard International Review, protesters such as Salah and Lina Marwan stood strong. They told their stories and experiences with inequality. They also continued to protest even after Sudanese military officials harassed them.
  5. As of January 2020, West Kordofan started its first No to Women Oppression Initiative. Though this is the only initiative started in Sudan currently, there is hope to open more across the country with a push to coordinate more organizations fighting for women’s rights in Sudan. These organizations are also continuing to discuss violence against women with Sudan’s government in hopes of gaining equal rights for them.

Though there is a long way to go to achieve equal rights in Sudan, as protests continue and women persist in fighting for their rights, there is hope for the future.

– Olivia Eaker
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

Women’s Rights in Sudan
For decades, the subject of women’s rights has been at the forefront of media and politics. While progress has been made, women’s rights in Sudan still lag behind other countries. Women in Sudan are fighting for equal rights amid new legislation such as the Personal Status Law of 1991, which allows child marriages and states that women can only marry if they have consent from a father or male guardian. Here are five facts about the women’s rights movement in Sudan.

5 Facts About Women’s Rights in Sudan

  1. Women make up 70% of protesters. As women band together to protest against laws and government officials that want to limit women rights, Global Fund for Women estimates that women account for nearly 70% of protesters in Sudan. The women taking part in these protests have labeled their movement “the women’s revolution.” Although many women have been beaten or flogged, they stand strong and continue to protest.
  2. Many of the laws women are protesting stem from long-lasting traditions. Tradition is important in Sudan’s culture — but tradition does not justify oppressive laws. Laws in Sudan restrict women from wearing pants, enjoying equality and representation in government and escaping child marriage. Modern women demand equal rights; however, rights are difficult to attain when women have a limited voice within government and law.
  3. Women in Sudan have been fighting for their rights for over 30 years. Under the oppressive rule of dictator Omar al-Bashir, women in Sudan have had to fight for basic equal rights since 1989. While inequality did not start with Al-Bashir, he did support and enforce laws that limit women’s rights. Military and government officials beat, rape and murder women for speaking out against years of abuse and inequality.
  4. The women’s revolution movement helped overthrow Al-Bashir. In 2019, women refused to stay silent as Sudan began to rise up against Al-Bashir. Even though they had to deal with persecution from the military, women continued to rise up against their oppressors. According to Harvard International Review, protesters such as Alaa Salah and Lina Marwan stood strong to tell their stories of inequality, continuing to protest even after being harassed by Sudanese military officials.
  5. The “No to Women Oppression Initiative” promises a better future for women in Sudan. As of January 2020, West Kordofan started its first “No to Women Oppression Initiative.” Though currently the only initiative of its kind, this may spark further collaborations between women’s rights organizations across Sudan. These organizations are also continuing to discuss violence against women with Sudan’s government, in hopes of attaining equal rights.

These five facts about women’s rights in Sudan indicate that the country has a long way to go in achieving equal rights for women. But as protests continue and women persist in fighting for their rights, this country can hope for a stronger, more equitable future. Moving forward, it is essential that women in Sudan receive international support for their protests. By working together, conditions for women in Sudan can improve.

Olivia Eaker
Photo: Flickr

Africa Polio Resources
Africa is using its polio resources to find creative solutions to the new pandemic. COVID-19 halted employment for many Africans and placed strains on international polio laboratories. These laboratories are members of the Global Polio Laboratory Network. Therefore, health organizations are now using polio resources to tackle COVID-19 in African countries. Already facing many challenges, these groups must balance fighting COVID-19 with continued administration of polio vaccinations.

Polio Eradication in Africa

Vast amounts of global research aid polio eradication in Africa. It is appropriate to alter these successful strategies now to fight COVID-19. In fact, expectations determined that Nigeria would be officially void of the disease between March and June 2020. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced in July 2020 that Nigeria was the last African country where polio was endemic, but that polio is no longer in African countries.

WHO’s Method of COVID-19 Mitigation

WHO is fighting COVID-19 through 16 polio testing facilities across 15 countries. To do so, it reconfigured machines that it originally used to display polio symptoms with COVID-19 data. These cell phone devices have the contact information of outreach teams, making data tracking easier. Another example of Africa’s use of polio resources is an outreach center developed in Brazzaville (2017). The research center assists countries with data-keeping technology to fight COVID-19.

COVID-19 Eradication in Sudan and Somalia

The WHO Polio Eradication Program provides training across 14 states of The Republic of Sudan. This training allows citizens of all seven localities of The Republic of Sudan (Khartoum, Ombada, Omdurman, Karary, Bahri, Sharq Elnil and Jabal Awliya) to assist potential COVID-19 victims. Recipients of the training are front line essential workers trained in healthy behaviors, COVID surveillance and COVID data interpretation. The training sessions empowered over 300 rapid response individuals, all of whom tested satisfactorily while demonstrating their competency.

Current difficulties such as social distancing and the minimal availability of face masks and gasoline make it difficult to continue to serve patients who need polio vaccinations. The short supply of resources also makes it difficult to provide diagnoses to individuals potentially affected by COVID-19. With Africa using polio resources to control COVID-19, polio vaccinations themselves had to take a back seat. These programs will re-obtain regular importance when possible. Many children still need vaccinations regularly to maintain Africa’s ‘eradicated’ polio status or they could be susceptible to the disease.

WHO training in Somalia empowers workers and allows staff to educate the community. Polio teams train and educate Somalians on the techniques and importance of reporting suspected COVID-19 cases. Polio Eradication Program associates can then continue sending feces samples labs for testing. These same techniques used for polio eradication allowed teams to hit the ground running in April of 2020.

The Reason Africa Must Continue to Monitor Polio and COVID-19

While techniques for testing polio and COVID-19 are similar, the diseases are not. Africa, while recently declared free of polio, must continue to monitor both diseases and refocus its attention on polio following the pandemic. Polio has numerous dangers: it attacks children, is highly contagious and leaves individuals paralyzed, all with a high risk of death. Continued vaccinations are the only hope of keeping Africa polio-free.

Polio laboratories need to increase efforts against COVID-19 to regain a singular focus on polio vaccinations. Nigerian President Mohammadu Buhari increased polio funding in 2016. His efforts highlight how ending disease allows a country to continue leveraging those resources. The COVID-19 pandemic is a major obstacle to Africa’s safety from polio.

DeAndre’ Robinson
Photo: Flickr

Water Crisis in Sudan
A major headline in 2012 as a result of South Sudan’s secession was the economic crisis facing Sudan after its oil revenue, which accounted for over half of the government’s revenue, sharply decreased. However, Sudan has also been facing an equally pressing water crisis that could adversely affect the country’s future for decades to come.

The current water crisis in Sudan has resulted in widespread water shortages and desertification, the process by which fertile land becomes too dry for agriculture. Ultimately, an International Fund For Agricultural Development (IFAD) report predicted that lower annual precipitation in combination with other environmental factors will significantly diminish land productivity in Sudan by 2050.

Water Scarcity and Poverty

Such a warning is especially important because about 65% of Sudan’s population lives in rural and agricultural areas, which produce almost 40% of the nation’s GDP. Additionally, poverty in these areas reaches upwards of 58% while water scarcity forces women and girls to abandon their jobs and school to find scarcely available water for domestic use. With women unable to work and girls not receiving an education, families earn less money and they have a smaller chance of improving their socio-economic status in the future. Therefore, it is clear that water plays a crucial role in Sudan’s economy and social development. This importance has made creating resilience to future crises in rural communities a national security priority for Sudan.

Urgent Global Aid

Most notably, Khartoum works with multilateral organizations such as the United Nations and the IFAD as well as countries like the United States to address the water crisis in Sudan. Such partnerships have led to the Agriculture Revival Programme in 2008, which has the goal of increasing rural citizens’ incomes and creating sustainable methods of natural resource use. Furthermore, the government implemented regulations like the Seed Act in 2010 to increase sustainable farming practices in the face of dwindling fertile lands. Sudan has demonstrated its commitment to solving its water scarcity issue through these multibillion-dollar projects. However, lots of work remains in order to eliminate the water scarcity, which has led to Sudan creating additional programs focusing on tackling water-related problems over the past few years.

Much like a pandemic, the most effective handling of the water crisis in Sudan will come through early investments and collective action. Without either of the former, water scarcity could grow exponentially and the damage could extend beyond the loss of lives today. As a result, the water crisis could extend to future generations, consequently exacerbating problems of poverty, migration and hunger in Sudan for decades to come.

What Now?

Sudan currently has the ability to create sustainable solutions before its water crisis becomes an unforgiving catastrophe — a point at which Khartoum will only be able to do damage control. Substantial progress in alleviating the water crisis in Sudan has already occurred thanks to partnerships with multilateral bodies and NGOs, as well as initiatives from Sudan’s government that encourage sustainable agricultural lifestyles. Ultimately, through pursuing further policies and strategic partnerships that reduce water scarcity in the long-run, Sudan should be able to bolster its economy and protect its citizens from poverty.

Alex Berman
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in Sudan
Located in northeastern Africa, Sudan has long been a diverse region of interaction between continental Africa and the Mediterranean. The country is home to hundreds of sub-Saharan African ethnic groups, and political and security challenges in recent decades have impacted it. In addition to displacement, the scattered population has recently suffered several outbreaks of cholera, dengue fever, Rift Valley fever (RVF), chikungunya and malaria.

Healthcare in Sudan faces both unique geographical and financial barriers to access. Improvements in health indicators are difficult to measure since they vary by region. Additionally, efforts to improve healthcare access have met with challenges. These include ineffective implementation of policies and poor coordination between the health and education sectors.

Financial Barriers

Postcolonial Sudan had free access to healthcare until the 1990s when the government gradually withdrew healthcare service provision. To retain healthcare access, Sudanese people often relied on borrowing money from relatives, working more and reducing expenditure on other vital living expenses. Many resorted to buying partial recommended treatments, resulting in further health complications.

Despite reducing support for healthcare, the Sudanese government also invested in higher medical education around the same time. It opened 30 new medical schools and made Sudan the country with the highest number of medical schools in Africa. This investment was an important step in the sustainable progress of healthcare in Sudan. It ensured a steady increase of healthcare professionals for the growing population of 42 million. Consequently, the physician-to-patient ratio improved from 0.1 per 1,000 people in 1996 to 0.41 per 1,000 people in 2015.

In 1997, in an effort to compensate for reduced government spending on health, the Ministry of Health introduced social health insurance (SHI). By 2017, SHI covered most of the population in Khartoum state and a few others. Despite internal efforts, healthcare in Sudan receives little international support. Compared with 50% of healthcare expenditure in Rwanda, only 5.4% of Sudan’s healthcare expenditure comes from external aid. The Sudanese government spends a comparable amount on healthcare to other sub-Saharan countries. However, the cost of healthcare for Sudanese citizens remains high, and many are uninsured.

Current Challenges

Sudan is struggling to retain healthcare workers, many of whom leave the country for better living and working conditions. To reduce physician migration, the Sudanese government has offered various incentives to specialists, such as generous salaries, leading positions, housing, transport and free education for offspring. However, the government cannot afford to sustain these efforts in the long-term or extend these benefits to all physicians.

Michelle Bachelet, a U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, argued that sanctions that the U.S. imposed have barred Sudan from receiving international funding for healthcare and COVID-19 relief. Sudan is on the U.S. State Sponsors of Terrorism list, which makes it ineligible to access any of the International Monetary Fund-World Bank’s $50 billion Trust Fund. This fund is currently assisting vulnerable countries to fight COVID-19. Sudan’s health minister Akram Ali Altom has also confirmed that the healthcare system is in urgent need of funding.

Geographical Barriers

As in many African countries, the main challenges to healthcare in Sudan are in rural areas. There, conflict, lack of transport and uneven distribution of resources reduce the availability of healthcare workers. An estimated 70% of the total healthcare providers are in the capital city Khartoum, serving just 20% of the population.

One way that some Sudanese states have addressed the problem has been through the use of telemedicine. Telemedicine has the potential to break down geographical barriers and increase access to high quality, specialist care to patients. A two-year pilot program in Gezira introduced electronic health records into the area for the first time. More than 165,000 new patients were able to register for consultations.

Sudan has many challenges to overcome before telemedicine can become a national success. Consultants located in the Khartoum center were not responsive. Additionally, issues involving software licensing and equipment maintenance have hindered smooth operations. As Salah Mandil, who led the first telemedicine project in Khartoum, noted, poor collaboration between scattered telemedicine projects has hindered efficiency and growth. For instance, projects such as the Surveillance project (FMOH) and the eHealth project have begun independently in various areas. However, they do not communicate or coordinate efforts.

Despite challenges to stability and safety, Sudan has made steps toward improving healthcare access in the past decade. To ensure equal and sustainable healthcare in Sudan, it must address the remaining challenges through better cooperation, management and funding from the government and international aid organizations.

– Beti Sharew
Photo: Flickr

Solar-Powered Water PumpsAs much as one-third of territory in the Northern State of Sudan can support agriculture, a key industry for Sudanese living in poverty. However, unequal access to reliable electricity and water leads many farmers to rely on diesel pumps to irrigate crops. The introduction of solar energy, specifically solar-powered irrigation, reduces farmers’ reliance on fossil fuels. This technological advancement reduces the expenses of farmers while dramatically increasing agricultural productivity.

Risks of Diesel-Powered Irrigation

Solar-powered water pumps help farmers eliminate their dependence on fossil fuel and overcome energy scarcity. An estimated 20 million people live without access to electricity in Sudan, approximately 65% of the country’s population. In the rural regions of Sudan, that percentage is even higher. For instance, up to 80% of rural Sudanese farmers lack reliable access to electricity.

Due to this scarce access to electricity, many farmers rely on diesel-powered water pumps to irrigate their fields. Diesel pumps not only produce harmful greenhouse gases but also can reduce agricultural efficiency. Specifically, the expensive and fluctuating prices of diesel fuel limit growing seasons and prevents farmers from planting consistently. Furthermore, the pumps contribute to smaller-scale environmental hazards by contaminating the surrounding water and plants.

Benefits of Solar-Powered Water Pumps

Solar-powered water pumps overcome the issue of energy scarcity by powering irrigation without tapping into fossil fuels. This mechanism helps farmers by providing a fuel source for irrigation that is both stable and effectively cost-free aside from initial installation and regular maintenance charges.

Solar-powered water pumps also help farmers increase land cultivation. Confidence in the availability of energy to irrigate crops enables farmers to increase cultivation. One pilot program for the introduction of solar pumps in the Northern State, operated by the United Nations Development Programme, found that the introduction of solar-powered water pumps increased the amount of land cultivated by farmers by 47%.

For example, the dry summer months were previously not economically viable due to the need for increased water-pumping and therefore costly diesel fuel. Following the introduction of solar-powered water pumps, land cultivation grew by 87% during the summer. Overall, farmers reported dramatic changes regarding both savings and reductions in overhead costs for farm management.

Additionally, solar-powered water pumps allow farmers to enrich agricultural production with high-value crops. Although agriculture accounts for around 80% of employment and roughly one-third of GDP in Sudan, individual farmers are particularly susceptible to poverty and food insecurity. However, with extended growing seasons and cuts in the cost of irrigation, Sudanese farmers can produce higher-value crops such as lemons, mangoes and cotton.

The Future of Solar Irrigation in Sudan

The Global Environmental Facility granted 4.89 million U.S. dollars to install 1,440 solar-powered water pumps throughout the Northern State between 2016-2021. The statistics make it clear that the farmers involved in pilot programs experienced notable benefits by utilizing solar pumps.

In addition to these individual benefits, Solar-powered irrigation could have much wider implications globally. The Sudanese initiative alone is projected to ultimately eliminate 860,100 tons of CO2 emissions and save 268,800 metric tons of diesel. Applied on a global scale, this technology could serve to drastically reduce emissions from the agricultural industry as a whole.

– Alexandra Black
Photo: U.N.

Poverty in Sudan
Sudan is one of the poorest developing countries in the world with over 40% of its citizens living below the poverty line. Poverty in Sudan results from a combination of factors ranging from the country’s location in the Sahara desert to rampant government corruption.

The History of Poverty in Sudan

Around 80% of the country’s rural population relies on subsistence agriculture. However, due to inconsistent rainfall and a lack of conservation measures, many of these vulnerable populations end up landless and jobless due to desertification and flooding. As a result of these conditions, more than 2.7 million children are acutely malnourished. Further, estimates determine that 5.8 million people in Sudan are food insecure.

Additionally, since its independence in 1956, Sudan has faced continued political unrest. The dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir banned nongovernmental organizations, which inhibited humanitarian assistance and led to the persecution of the Christian minority in the country. Although circumstances looked hopeful in 2019 as a result of the overthrow of Omar Hassan al-Bashir and the shift of Sudan into a transitional democratic government, the scars of Bashir’s 30-year regime remain. Sudan still faces an economic crisis due to the loss of two-thirds of its oil revenues with the succession of South Sudan during Bashir’s rule. Additionally, Sudan has over 2 million internally displaced people.

These conditions have left Sudan in a humanitarian crisis. However, many organizations are combatting the issues and providing relief to the Sudanese people. Here are five organizations fighting poverty in Sudan.

5 Organizations Fighting Poverty in Sudan

  1. UNICEF Sudan: Around 65% of the Sudanese population is under 25 years old, and UNICEF Sudan is the leading agency dedicated to providing long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to these vulnerable children and adolescents across the country. The organization has allocated an aggregate budget of $47,125,000 from regular resources and $193,925,000 in other resources to Sudan’s country program from 2018-2021. UNICEF Sudan established its Policy, Evidence and Social Protection program to help strengthen the national and local governmental agencies in Sudan by redistributing budget allocations to improve holistic conditions for children in aspects ranging from health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education and social protection. One of UNICEF Sudan’s objectives in 2020 is to provide treatment for 300,000 children between the ages of 6 to 59 months who experience severe acute malnutrition.
  2. The World Food Programme: The World Food Programme works to improve conditions in Sudan by providing food, economic resources and educational programs to the Sudanese people experiencing continuous internal conflicts. In 2019, the organization implemented a four-tier plan that will last until 2023 and aims to respond to imminent emergencies and other persistent issues such as malnutrition, food insecurity and lack of access to humanitarian resources. In 2019, there were 3,810,110 beneficiaries of the program. The program also delivered 153,698 mt of food to the country. The World Programme is currently working to install a solar power plant to reduce carbon emissions in Sudan.
  3. Save the Children: Save the Children began its work in Sudan in 1984. This organization aims to help displaced women, children and families by providing assistance in the areas of education, health and related programs. Although Bashir’s rule in 2009 revoked Save the Children U.S., its partnership with Save the Children Sweden and help of donations and sponsors allowed this organization to continue to affect change by protecting 38,342 children from harm and providing 185, 009 children vital nourishment.
  4. Mercy Corps: Mercy Corps began humanitarian and development assistance in Sudan in 2004. It operates primarily in the South Darfur and South Kordofan states to provide resources for food, health care, education and other humanitarian efforts. In addition, Mercy Corps also helps Sudan manage conflict and disasters with the hope of providing long-term stability and resourcefulness to the Sudanese people. Specifically, Mercy Corps hopes to maintain stability through its establishment of 10 community-based organizations that provide emergency preparedness, response and coordination in South Kordofan states. MercyCorps has impacted hundreds of thousands of Sudanese people to date by providing clean drinking water to  265,000 individuals and assisting 23,000 local farmers.
  5. Plan International: Plan International has provided humanitarian relief to Sudanese women and children since 1977. Plan Sudan focuses on the following program areas: children’s health, water and sanitation; hygiene; learning for life and economic security. One can see the success of its efforts through its sponsorship of 31,419 Sudanese children.

Though the country requires a lot more work to eliminate poverty in Sudan, these organizations provide hope for its people. Through continued efforts, hopefully, Sudan will overcome the systemic poverty and internal corruption that has long plagued the country.

– Kira Lucas
Photo: Flickr