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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

 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