The Conflict in SudanOn April 15, 2023, an internal conflict broke out in Sudan between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF). The conflict has worsened the already existing issues of poverty and public health in Sudan. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 46 attacks on health care workers and facilities since the conflict started with 67% of hospitals reportedly shut down, affecting 11 million Sudanese citizens. Furthermore, according to the World Food Programme (WFP), 15 million Sudanese citizens are struggling with acute food insecurity, and that number could rise to 18 million if food aid organizations do not receive adequate financial support. In response, major international powers have launched diplomatic interventions to stop the conflict in Sudan.

The U.S.–Saudi Arabia Efforts to Stop the Conflict in Sudan began with the Jeddah Declaration, signed by the RSF and the SAF in the city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia on May 11, 2023. The Jeddah Declaration prioritized “the interests and well-being of the Sudanese people” and affirmed its obligation to “International Humanitarian Law and international human rights law.” This includes ensuring the protection of hospitals and water installations as well as allowing humanitarian organizations to help those in need of medical help. This major diplomatic intervention has been partially successful so far in mitigating the conflict.

Effectiveness of the Declaration

The Jeddah Declaration has managed to reduce some of the tension between the warring parties. On June 17, 2023, the U.S.–Saudi Arabia efforts to stop the conflict in Sudan resulted in a 72-hour ceasefire. The ceasefire agreement includes a prohibition on the “use of military aircraft or drones, artillery strikes” and “from seeking military advantage during the ceasefire.” Consequently, the following day witnessed an absence of fighting in Sudan, and reports from people on the ground indicated a calm situation. This demonstrates the effectiveness of strong diplomatic leadership in halting violence and enabling the provision of humanitarian aid to alleviate poverty and offer essential medical support.

Remaining Hostilities Between Warring Parties

Despite the U.S.–Saudi Arabia efforts to stop the conflict in Sudan, the RSF and SAF are still hostile toward each other, thereby prolonging the humanitarian crisis in Sudan. During the Eid al-Adha on June 28, 2023, Sudanese citizens claimed that they heard gunfire and airstrikes despite a ceasefire announcement by both the RSF and the SAF. As a result, many Sudanese people had to pray the Eid prayer at home instead of in the mosque as per Islamic tradition. Furthermore, people in Sudan are struggling to obtain food because they do not have enough money and the stores are reportedly being looted.

Further Global Initiatives To Help Sudan

Not only the U.S.-Saudi Arabia efforts but also other initiatives are taking place to aid the Sudanese people. On June 20, 2023, an international conference focusing on Sudan’s aid took place in Geneva, Switzerland, with Germany, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, and the U.N. playing host. During the conference, donors from around the world pledged $1.5 billion in aid to Sudan. This significant commitment emphasizes the international community’s determination to bring an end to the conflict, which has caused 2.2 million people to flee their homes and endure health and poverty challenges.

– Abdullah Dowaihy
Photo: Flickr

Conflict in SudanThe people of Sudan are facing renewed trouble as fighting between the ruling military regime and the Rapid Support Force (RSF) paramilitary confederation puts the country’s poorest at risk. The ongoing conflict, which erupted on Saturday, April 15, 2023, puts vital humanitarian work in jeopardy. On Sunday, April 16, 2023, the World Food Program (WFP) announced that it was forced to cease operations as a result of the conflict in Sudan. A third of the population of Sudan is at risk of acute food insecurity. Getting them the vital aid they require is being rendered more difficult by the violence intensifying across the sub-Saharan nation.

The Cause of Conflict

In 2019, the deposition of long-term dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir failed to result in the establishment of a stable and democratic civilian government in Sudan. The army, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, launched a coup and took control of the country in 2021. Civilian rule was due to be restored in Sudan at the start of April 2023 following an agreement brokered in December 2022 between the army and political and civil groups. However, disagreements over the deal, which would see the RSF integrated into the army, resulted in a power struggle between the two factions. On April 15, violent clashes between the army and the RSF broke out. Reports suggest that Khartoum, the country’s capital, has been consumed by 24-hour conflict since Saturday. Battles are also taking place across western Darfur and other regions in Sudan. So far, at least 400 people have died.

Sudan’s political and economic issues have worsened in the years following the 2019 uprising and military takeover. Western nations and international organizations have suspended the majority of aid and loans for Sudan. In the context of international isolation, chronic political unrest and economic hardship, conflict in Sudan spells even more misery for the country’s poorest. The long-dreaded violence between the country’s two chief military factions threatens to destabilize the Northeast Africa region and increase the number of internally displaced people in Sudan (already 3.7 million), and this could consequently make the process of getting humanitarian aid across to the country’s most vulnerable more challenging.

World Food Program Halts Operations

WFP, the world’s largest humanitarian organization, halted all operations in Sudan on Sunday, April 16, 2023, after three of its employees were killed the day before. The killings happened in Kabkabiya, North Darfur. An additional two employees were injured in the same incident. In a statement, WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain explained that all operations in Sudan had been suspended “pending a review of the evolving security situation.” Ms. McCain said threats to their teams make it impossible to operate safely and effectively in the country and carry out WFP’s critical work. She also said that damage inflicted on a U.N. Humanitarian Air Service aircraft during an exchange of fire at Khartoum airport seriously impacted the WFP’s ability to transport humanitarian workers and aid within the country.

The indefinite suspension of activities by the WFP represents a significant blow to the humanitarian effort in Sudan. WFP Sudan recently received a €24 million ($26 million) payment from the European Union (EU) to help meet the basic food and nutritional needs of the country’s poorest. As the conflict in Sudan continues, it is still unclear when citizens will receive this aid. Although the WFP was already experiencing “pipeline breaks” to its nutrition support and school feeding program before fighting broke out, the people of Sudan could begin to feel the loss of its activity as they run low on food and water.

International Aid

Former dictator, Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s ban on NGOs in the country had inhibited humanitarian assistance to Sudan. International charitable organizations have nonetheless managed to establish themselves in the country. Organizations such as UNICEF Sudan, Save the Children, Mercy Corps and Plan International continue to provide vital aid in Sudan, even as the WFP ceased operations on Sunday. UNICEF Sudan, for example, remains the leading agency providing long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to Sudan.

Sudan lies at the epicenter of the global nutrition crisis. And the current conflict in Sudan could exacerbate this issue. A collective of humanitarian organizations estimated in a 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan that 14.3 million people across Sudan required humanitarian aid in 2022. Of those in need, most are female, and more than half (7.8 million) are children. In January, UNICEF launched an ‘acceleration plan’ in Sudan and 11 other mainly sub-Saharan nations to prevent and treat ‘wasting’ in women and children. Women urgently need the delivery of this plan, as malnutrition afflicts approximately 25% of mothers across the region. Conflict in Sudan threatens to interrupt the work of organizations like UNICEF. Additionally, it makes it harder for mothers to access the vital care they need.

Looking Ahead

Governments and organizations all over the world have condemned the outbreak of conflict in Sudan. Head of the U.N. Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) Mr. Volker Perthes has warned that acts of violence disrupt the delivery of essential humanitarian assistance: “When incidents like this occur, it is women, men and children in desperate need of assistance who suffer the most.” As the withdrawal of the WFP from Sudan shows, violence directly impacts the provision of aid to Sudan’s most vulnerable. But while the suspension of operations by the World Food Program is a setback, efforts to address the nutrition crisis and support vulnerable populations in Sudan are ongoing. The resilience and dedication of these organizations UNICEF and Save the Children offer a glimmer of hope for a brighter future for the people of Sudan.

– Samuel Chambers
Photo: Flickr

Being poor in SudanBehind being poor in Sudan lies a conflict-ridden history. Sudan has long been a war-torn country, from the early Madhist War to the first and second civil wars and to the more recent ongoing Darfur conflict.

The second civil war lasted from 1983 to 2005 and despite leading to the subsequent independence of South Sudan in 2011, It resulted in the death of an estimated two million civilians, with disease and famine being the biggest killer.

Meanwhile, since 2003, in the Western Sudanese province of Darfur, conflict continues to rage over the genocide of non-Arab Sudanese citizens. These conflicts, along with unstable and dictatorial leaders, have only perpetuated intense poverty for the majority of the Sudanese population.

Here is what it’s like being poor in Sudan:

Hunger and food insecurity

In Sudan, an estimated 15 million people are currently facing acute hunger, making food insecurity a major concern. Political instability and high rates of inflation are the primary drivers of this crisis, with 95% of Sudanese households spending more than half their income on food. In the last year alone, prices have surged by 137%.

Sudan’s already critical food conditions have further deteriorated due to the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. More than 60% of Sudan’s population lives in rural areas, resulting in an economy heavily reliant on agriculture. However, due to climate insecurity, including droughts and land degradation, as well as inadequate infrastructure, harvest yields have been alarmingly low.

Access to Water and Sanitation

In Sudan, 17.3 million people lack access to basic clean water, putting them at risk of disease. Additionally, only half the schools in Sudan have access to water supply. An estimated 24 million people face limited access to sanitation facilities and nearly half of them have no choice but to defecate in the open, exposing children and others to the risk of disease and death. With water becoming an increasingly hard-to-reach resource, women and children are consistently risking their lives to gather water from remote sources.


Sudan’s unemployment rate has been on the rise over the past few years. Between 2019 and 2020, the rate increased from 17.65% to 19.65% and continued to climb, albeit at a slower pace, in 2021. Meanwhile, the youth unemployment rate over the past decade has remained between 80% to 90%. According to economist Hafiz Ismail, the reason for this is the lack of economic growth in the country, with various federal policies behind this.

Kids for Kids: the Charity Using Goats for Empowerment

In 2001, while visiting her son, who was working at the British Embassy in Sudan, Patricia Parker was moved by the sight of a young boy trekking across the arid desert in Darfur to fetch water for his family. After meeting Ibrahim and his family, Patricia felt moved to fund the installation of a hand pump near their home.

From there, Patricia launched a goat-focused initiative that provides families with goats for nutritious milk. And upon maturing, the goats birth offspring that go to other families. Her charity, Kids for Kids, based in the United Kingdom, also lends donkeys, chickens and agricultural tools while training health professionals to strengthen communities.

After 19 years, when Patricia returned to the village, she was delighted to find Ibrahim healthy and with a family of his own. In 2021, Patricia was awarded the Order of the British Empire for her diligent work in Darfur, Sudan.

Looking Ahead

The hot climate in Sudan contributes to exacerbating poverty in the country. It presents problems involving water scarcity and agricultural growth, resulting in conflict and wars that impact everyday civilians. Nevertheless, with more charities, like Kids for Kids, turning to Sudan, there is hope for children like Ibrahim to experience better living conditions.

– Genevieve Lewis
Photo: Flickr

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 to 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 (WFP): 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 the 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. Mercy Corps 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

Facts About Girls' Education in Sudan
Facts about girls’ education in Sudan are startling as females are at a clear disadvantage. Girls in Sudan are more likely to be illiterate than their regional counterparts, which is concerning as the region around the nation is plagued with female educational suppression.

Facts About Girls’ Education in Sudan

  1. According to UNICEF, 49 percent of girls are missing out on primary education. As of 2017, a total of three million children have been left out of Sudan’s education system, half of them being girls.
  2. In general, Sudan has unegalitarian views towards women. Sudan’s legal system is a strict form of Sharia Law, which limits the rights of women in many respects. The nature of such laws has seeped into Sudanese culture, thus affecting the quality and quantity of girls education for the worse. These laws include punishment for not wearing religious garb in public and institutionalized discrimination against women. When the mantra of the government and its laws is anti-women, the educational system will most likely be anti-women as well.
  3. The laws in Sudan regarding education do not guarantee safety against discrimination. Educators can then easily implement their views on who they allow to enroll in schools. Such views are the norm in Sudan, as is the opinion that women should aspire to be a housewife for their ultimate goal. Sudanese culture follows a strict interpretation of Islam and is often a culture that allows female genital mutilation, honor killings and other violations against women. Such an environment would be hard pressed not to extend such discrimination to education.
  4. In Sudan, the enrollment rate for girls in primary school is lower than that of boys, and there is also a significant gap in literacy between boys and girls.
  5. The quality of  teachers is very low in Sudan in comparison to the rest of the world; there may be up to 110,000 unqualified teachers teaching in Sudan, as 48 percent of teachers in Sudan have only completed primary education. On average, children in Sudan experience either no education (as Sudan has one of the highest out-of-school-children rates in the world) or very poor education from unqualified teachers.
  6. A severe lack of female teachers in Sudanese schools often creates a learning environment much more hostile to girls, which can then deter girls enrolling in school. Only 12 percent of South Sudan’s instructors are female, and the data of female education rates across generations show less improvement over time.
  7. The average household in Sudan contains 5.7 people; contrastingly, an United States household holds an average of 2.58 people. The cost of education in Sudan is not direct tuition, but rather similar to western universities and religious schools charge aside from tuition: textbooks, uniforms, exam fees, and even teacher salaries. This is very costly for many families, especially as poverty is extremely high in Sudan — 44.8  percent of the population live below the poverty line, and there is a 17 percent unemployment rate.
  8. The large number of families who struggle with such costs generally have two options: (1) do not send their children to school (which is a partial explanation for why the educational enrollment rate in Sudan is very low) or (2) choose their favorite children to attend school. For the latter option, these favorites are almost unanimously boys which hurts girls educational opportunities.
  9. Given the fact that normal schooling in Sudan is explicitly anti-women, it’s very hard for girls in Sudan to receive an education, and the shortage of out-of-school alternatives really leaves Sudan’s girls in a difficult place.
  10. Fortunately, Sudan is not alone. The Global Partnership for Education Fund heavily funds the Sudanese government so as “to improve the learning environment in targeted areas; to increase the availability of textbooks; and to strengthen education planning and management mechanisms in the Sudan.” In fact, $76 million has gone into a project known as the Basic Education Recovery Project which significantly helps girls education in Sudan.

Steps to Empowerment

These facts about girls’ education in Sudan leave the international community with a daunting task — making change a reality in Sudan. Thankfully, such outcomes are occurring, but help is always needed and desired. Donating to organizations such as The Borgen Project that work to provide international aid is one of the best ways to help make change a reality.

– Daniel Lehewych
Photo: Flickr