Humanitarian Response in SudanSince April 2023, Sudan has been embroiled in a civil conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces — the national military — and the Rapid Support Forces, an independent paramilitary force. Led by “Hemedti” Mohamad Hamdan Dagalo, RSF is an outgrowth of Janjaweed military groups formerly employed by the government throughout the 2000s and 2010s. These forces have been part of multiple coups over the last five years, perpetrating potential crimes against humanity in the Darfur region.

A humanitarian crisis has erupted in Sudan as a result of widespread destruction and fighting. This is exacerbating the already-present effects of widespread poverty and almost 20% unemployment in 2022. A June 2023 report from USAID has identified and mapped multiple poverty-related crisis categories that must be addressed by a humanitarian response in Sudan. Notably, these are water scarcity and agricultural-nutritional crises. USAID is partnering with organizations such as OCHA, UNFPA and the World Food Program (WFP) to provide the Sudanese with desperately needed resources and aid.

Water Scarcity in Sudan

According to USAID, multiple regions in Sudan such as Khartoum, Gedaref, North and South Kordofan and all of the Darfur region are experiencing water scarcity. Water scarcity doesn’t only affect access to drinking water, but also diminishes a population’s ability to implement adequate sanitation and hygiene practices, putting the public health of thousands of impoverished Sudanese at risk. Sudan also ranks among the most climate-insecure countries in the world, at risk of desertification and extreme heat. Consequently, the Norwegian Refugee Council has emphasized that heat strokes and other sun-related health issues are rampant in areas bordering South Sudan.

To combat this, USAID is providing humanitarian efforts in Sudan. The U.N. High Commission for Refugees has helped almost 700,000 Sudanese refugees since 2022 to obtain drinking water, and the International Medical Corps has outfitted hundreds of families in Sudan with sanitation kits this year. The International Organization for Migration is contributing $25 million to USAID and the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance to implement WASH projects in Sudan. Moreover, the WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) and shelter projects receive further support with an additional three million dollars from the UN High Council for Refugees. The U.N. Population Fund also contributes another three million dollars to USAID’s response plan for public health implementations in Blue and White Nile, Gedaref, Khartoum, and areas of Darfur and Kordofan.

Agricultural Crises

War and climate change have strained farmers and livestock herders across Darfur and Northern Sudan, as well as Kassala, Gedaref and Sennar in the east. Sudan’s livestock industry brought in $143 million in export revenue in 2022, and the World Bank estimates almost half the Sudanese population work in the agricultural industry. This highlights the crucial role of humanitarian response in supporting agribusiness and safeguarding a significant portion of the population from factors leading to poverty, such as unemployment and malnutrition. OCHA’s 2023 response plan outlines the need for $500 million in food security and livelihood aid to assist 75% of the nearly 20 million affected Sudanese. The plan is to source the funding from the Sudan Humanitarian Fund and donations to partner organizations like UNICEF.

Food and Nutrition: Crisis & Solutions

Food insecurity is a pressing issue in multiple regions of Sudan, particularly in South and West Kordofan, Kassala in the east, and across central-northwest Darfur. The problem has been ongoing since 2022 but has worsened due to the conflict. According to an IPC report, out of the total Sudanese population of more than 46 million, only 18.6 million people were food secure in 2022. Without international intervention, expectations lean toward a further deterioration of the situation in 2023.

Despite the ongoing dangers, the World Food Program responded in May 2023 by resuming nutritional assistance programs in the country, while contributing more than $140 million in cash transfers. As a result, WFP and BHA have been able to provide more than 800,000 people with thousands of metric tonnes of sorghum grain since mid-May 2023. On top of this, UNICEF has provided citizens in Wad Madani and Khartoum with critical aid such as Ready-To-Use Therapeutic Food and truckloads of health and nutrition supplies.

USAID and its partners plan to work diligently to expand the humanitarian response in Sudan throughout 2023 and onward.

– Finneas Sensiba
Photo: Pixabay

5 facts about hunger in SudanThe Republic of Sudan is a country located in Northeast Africa with a population of more than 45 million. Its capital city, Khartoum, is home to nearly six million people. For much of its post-independence history, Sudan has struggled with significant political instability ranging from civil war to intertribal strife. Further unrest unfolded after South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011; this resulted in a full-fledged war between the countries by 2012. All of these factors have contributed to widespread food insecurity and malnutrition among Sudanese people. To learn more about this issue, here are five key facts about hunger in Sudan.

5 Facts About Hunger in Sudan

  1. Rising food prices and high inflation levels increase the risk of hunger. According to the World Food Program (WFP), 5.8 million people in Sudan suffer from food insecurity. Low purchasing power means that Sudanese often cannot buy enough food. For example, an average local food basket costs at least three-fourths of a Sudanese household income.
  2. Sudan’s volatile economy exacerbates the problem of food insecurity. The volatility comes from weak infrastructure and the loss of a large share of oil production revenues after South Sudan’s secession. Sudan has been struggling to recover from these losses ever since.
  3. Malnutrition and stunting levels among Sudanese children are very high. Malnutrition and stunting, or decreased growth, both come from hunger. More than half a million children in Sudan are severely and acutely malnourished. In addition, more than a third of children under five, or 2.3 million, suffer from stunting. Sudan is one of 14 countries that have four-fifths of the world’s stunted children.
  4. Sudan depends heavily on the vulnerable agricultural sector. This decreases food security and increases hunger in Sudan, especially given that it is where 80% of the country’s labor force is employed. Many factors make agriculture unreliable. Sudan is exposed to environmental disruptions such as desertification and periodic droughts and floods. It also suffers from a lack of sufficient water supplies and water pollution.
  5. Many displaced persons in Sudan are at a high risk of hunger. Ongoing domestic conflicts in Sudan have led to the internal displacement of nearly two million Sudanese. Additionally, there has been an influx of more than a million refugees, most of whom are from South Sudan. These internally displaced persons and refugees often rely on food assistance. In addition to providing food vouchers, which enable Sudanese families to buy food locally, USAID has reportedly contributed more than 600,000 metric tons in food aid between 2013 and 2017.

Fortunately, many organizations are stepping up to diminish hunger in Sudan. USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP), in partnership with other organizations like the WFP and UNICEF, is conducting efforts to support food-insecure Sudanese families. As of 2020, FFP has donated $226.9 million to provide assistance and agricultural training. In addition, USAID’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) has also been a useful tool that monitors and evaluates the food security-related needs of Sudan. The network thus allows for earlier responses to potential crises.

Based on the above facts about hunger in Sudan, it is clear that the African nation continues to face crippling challenges ranging from a weak economic structure to poor child health. To satisfy the nutritional needs of its population, Sudan will continue to need the efforts and outreach of organizations such as the FFP and UNICEF.

– Oumaima Jaayfer
Photo: Flickr

Top Ten Facts about Living Conditions in Sudan
Since the start of the new year, Sudan has received a flurry of media attention. What started as students protesting rising wheat prices escalated into civil unrest quickly spread across the country as thousands of activists call for President Omar al-Bashir’s resignation. The government’s response has received widespread condemnation, with Amnesty International reporting the death of 40 protestors and thousands of arrests.

The unrest sweeping through Sudan is complex, rooted in social, political and economic instability. For decades, living conditions across this African nation have fostered an environment that leaves behind vulnerable citizens and perpetuates poverty. The following top 10 facts about living conditions in Sudan are intended to unpack these factors.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Sudan

  1. Much of Sudan’s geography is defined by the Nile river and its tributaries, winding through the country’s expansive plains. The Sahara desert sweeps across the north, rendering much of the land arid and unusable. However, in the Southern Savannah, especially the Southeast regions, summer storms deliver nearly 30 inches of rain each year. These fertile grasslands allow communities to fish, grow crops and raise livestock.
  2. Sudan has been plagued by one of the longest and deadliest civil wars in the world. For the past 27 years, President Omar al-Bashir has clung to power in a brutal fashion, including the 2003 genocide in Darfur that drew international condemnation. Fighting between the Sudanese government and southern rebels finally cooled in 2011 when an almost unanimous referendum granted what is now South Sudan independence. However, the violence within Sudan continues today. The constant war weighs heavy on the civilian population as more than 2 million people remain displaced in Darfur, with a PTSD prevalence of 55 percent in some areas.
  3. The 2011 secession of South Sudan sparked economic turmoil across the nation that continues to affect daily life. Prior to 2011, Sudan saw sustained economic growth from its vast oil reserves. The petroleum industry fueled nearly 95 percent of the country’s exports and was one of the largest areas of employment. Shrinking 2.3 percent in 2018, the economy has been in a downward spiral as 47 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and Sudan has the worlds second highest rate of inflation.
  4. The unemployment rate in Sudan have been slowly but consistently falling over the past two decades. In 1995, unemployment hovered around 14 percent. Today estimates place this rate at 12.5 percent. Conflict continues to afflict labor participation in some regions and the collapse of Sudan’s oil industry left thousands jobless. An unknown number of Sudanese are also engaged in non-wage work, primarily subsistence farming. Therefore, Sudan’s relatively low unemployment rate is not entirely indicative of the country’s economic standing.
  5. Agriculture is a driving economic force in Sudan, employing 80 percent of the labor force and comprising 40 percent of the country’s GDP. With two main branches of the Nile running through Sudan, the country boasts some of the most fertile lands in the region. In the White and Blue Nile plains, some farmers receive government subsidies to operate large scale, mechanized farms. These farms are integral to the economy, sometimes providing entire communities with steady work.
  6. Roughly 70 percent of the nation’s 39.5 million people live in rural areas where the government is unable to provide the most basic of services. Clean water, food and adequate sanitation are scarce in these regions and only 22 percent of rural residents have access to electricity. At 20 percent, rural unemployment in Sudan is almost twice as high as the national average, while the poverty rate jumps to 58 percent outside of urban areas.
  7. Some of the most notable improvements in Sudanese society have been in the education sector. In 2009, 67 percent of children attended primary school, increasing significantly from 45 percent in 2001. Although primary education is free, parent-teacher associations sometimes impose fees to cover the cost of school supplies. This can have a chilling effect on attendance. UNICEF estimates nearly 3 million children between the ages of 5 and 13 are kept out of school, one of the highest rates of out-of-school children in the entire continent.
  8. Hunger continues to impact communities across Sudan. In 2017, 3.8 million people suffered from food insecurity and in 2018, 5.5 million were affected. A staggering 80 percent of the entire population is unable to afford the food they need to sustain a healthy and nutritious diet and roughly 40 percent of Sudanese people are malnourished. Famine and conflict in neighboring South Sudan continue to bring refugees into the country, with only 1 percent of newcomers able to afford the food they need.
  9. Since 2000, the Sudanese government has doubled its annual health care budget, allocating 6.6 percent of its GDP towards health expenditures With only 5.6 doctors per 10,000 people, hospitals across the country are often overwhelmed. Despite much of the population residing in rural areas, most hospitals are located in Sudan’s urban centers and nearly two-thirds of the country’s doctors worked in the capital Khartoum. Malaria, yellow fever and diarrheal diseases are common throughout the country, especially in conflict-afflicted areas that lack public health initiatives and adequate medical supplies.
  10. Some reports suggest 87 percent of Sudanese women between the ages of 15 and 49 have been forced to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM), the highest rate in the world. However, with help from the World Health Organization, over 1,000 communities across the country have denounced FGM. The Sudanese government has also taken steps to address gender inequality, passing the 2008 Electoral Law that mandated 25 percent of parliamentary seats to be occupied by women. Today, women hold 30 percent of Sudanese Parliamentary seats.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in Sudan do not paint a hopeful picture for this African nation. But despite the various adversities imposed upon the people of Sudan, many are optimistic when it comes to the future. The historic protests dominating daily life since January indicates people are not afraid to mobilize for change. As pressure continues to mount on President al-Bashir, and his 27-year rule that dictated life for millions of oppressed people, could be coming to an end.

– Kyle Dunphey

Photo: Flickr