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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

Save the Children in SudanFollowing decades of non-stop armed conflict, Sudan has a horrible human rights record and ranks as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Violent clashes and subsequent displacement of citizens have particularly hurt the country’s most vulnerable population: children. Save the Children is the world’s leading independent organization for children and is currently engaged in 120 countries, including Sudan. Save the Children has worked to improve the welfare of Sudanese children since 1983.

Sudan has been plagued by a string of violent conflicts. In 2005, the Second Sudanese Civil War (1983-2005) concluded with the signage of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Subsequently, in 2011 residents of South Sudan overwhelmingly voted to secede from Sudan. The secession of South Sudan resulted in a mass migration as citizens of Sudan relocated to South Sudan and vice-versa.

This mass displacement separated tens of thousands of children from their families. To address this crisis, Save the Children has implemented a family tracing and reunification (FTR) program. FTR is the first initiative that Save the Children launches in conflict zones.

Save the Children partnered with UNICEF and community-based networks to introduce FTR following the creation of the Republic of South Sudan in 2011. The program identifies and registers unaccompanied children, then works to reunite them with their families. Unfortunately, the longer a child remains separated from caregivers, the greater the risk that the child will become a victim of violence and exploitation.

Last month, Save the Children and UNICEF aided 399 unaccompanied Sudanese children. Additionally, the partners have just reunited their 5,000th child with his mother. In total, 16,055 separated children have been traced and documented by all the family reunification organizations in Sudan.

Save the Children in Sudan further supports children by supporting community-based child protection networks. The organization leverages existing community structures to identify and respond to child protection issues. Through these networks, Save the Children aims to raise awareness and spread information to prevent child matriculation into armed forces, to reduce the number of children separated from caregivers and to educate the community about existing resources that combat child abuse.

Additionally, the organization has created child-friendly spaces that help children recover from trauma and re-enter their local communities. Save the Children establishes child-friendly spaces in all conflict zones where it operates. The nonprofit coordinates these spaces with existing local services to expand the care options available.

Save the Children combats major social problems through public information campaigns delivered at schools, child-friendly spaces and community centers. In Sudan, the organization disseminates information about two major safety threats: the recruitment of children by armed forces and the continued presence of landmines and unexplained ordinances. Additionally, Save the Children addresses the root cause of child enrollment into armies by working to improve the economic circumstances of vulnerable children.

Save the Children believes that the existing legislative framework for the protection of Sudanese children is inadequate. Physical discipline is still widely accepted in schools and homes. Therefore, Save the Children helps national civil rights groups campaign for new protective policies and expansion of government bodies that combat physical punishment.

In 2013, Save the Children’s child protection program in Sudan directly impacted 969,000 people, including 551,974 children, and indirectly impacted 5,025670 people, including 3,318,931 children. Its efforts are going a long way to alleviate the issues caused by the ongoing instability in Sudan.

Katherine Parks

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Sudan
Since Sudan’s independence in 1956, the country has been wracked with volatile conflict. The unyielding violence, an unforgiving climate and a tumultuous government controlled by military personnel are significant causes of poverty in Sudan.

Although Sudan’s GDP per capita rose to $2,140 in 2016, unequal distribution of wealth and resources has exacerbated socioeconomic inequality through different regions of the country. Poverty levels differ depending on location, with a smaller percentage of severely impoverished citizens in metropolitan Khartoum than rural North Darfur. Altogether, 46.5 percent of the population of Sudan lived below the poverty line in 2009.

The harsh climate and scarce natural resources create adverse conditions for farmers. Low levels of rainfall particularly affect subsistence farmers living in remote areas outside of irrigation zones. Short growing seasons and lack of access to new technology contributes to low agricultural productivity. These factors seriously impact poor farmers in isolated communities and further perpetuate the inequality present between urban and rural citizens.

Poor allocation of government resources has worsened existing inequality. Military expenditures and government spending on the development of populous towns in the Nile valley greatly exceeds spending on outlying farming communities. This culture of inequality and the extreme poverty faced by the isolated poor led to civil conflicts that culminated in the cession of the southern states and the formation of the Republic of South Sudan in July 2011.

Explosive violence has long been among the causes of poverty in Sudan. The recent civil war and the resulting divide of the country only deepened the country’s resource deficit. The secession of the oil-rich southern states resulted in a loss of over half of Sudan’s government revenues and more than 95 percent of its exports.

Furthermore, civil war in South Sudan has led to an influx of refugees to Sudan. As of March 2017, approximately 332,885 people have fled to Sudan. This population explosion further strains Sudan’s small resource pool.

However, Sudan’s parliament approved the Five-Year Program of Economic Reforms in December 2014. This plan emphasizes further development of agriculture and livestock to combat low productivity and poor crop yields, leading causes of poverty in Sudan. The new economic plan could provide a solution to the loss of South Sudan’s resources and could lead to an increase in economic stability.

Furthermore, the U.S. eased sanctions on Sudan in 2017. These sanctions were implemented in 1997 and expanded in 2006. The trade and financial sanctions were imposed as a response to human rights violations carried out by the Sudanese government. The Obama administration temporarily lifted some of the economic sanctions as a response to improved conditions in Sudan. The Sudanese government now allows humanitarian aid to reach inhabitants of conflict areas and has orchestrated a ceasefire with the rebel army, the People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO).

This temporary reprieve from sanctions allows trade between Sudan and the U.S., creating some small economic stimulus in Sudan. The policy is under six-month review and pending approval to become permanent. The removal of these sanctions would finally offer an opportunity for some economic growth in a country long plagued by explosive violence and poor governance.

Katherine Parks


In the midst of the Sahara Desert, Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world. South Sudan became the world’s newest economy in July 2011 after a referendum of self-determination which took place in January 2011. Poverty in South Sudan is more widespread as this area is affected by drought, conflict and famine. According to the Human Development Index, Sudan ranks 147 out of 177 countries. Why is Sudan poor?

Almost half of the population lives in poverty in Sudan. As of 2009, 46.5 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Nine out of 10 people live on less than a dollar per day. About 40 percent of the population lacks access to safe drinking water. Sudan has the largest number of internally displaced people in the world. More than half a million breastfeeding mothers and children are in need of supplementary food.

According to the Human Development Index of 2000, 26.6 percent of the population will likely not live past the age of 40. Serious illnesses among children, caused by malnutrition and dehydration, cannot be treated because of limited medical supplies, facilities and ill-equipped services. As a result, half of Sudan’s children are not in school.

Hard climate conditions and lack of natural resources contribute to poverty in Sudan. The internal conflict and political instability have intensified the poor conditions. The civil unrest has cost the lives of about 1.5 million people.

Why is Sudan poor? Subsistence agriculture is the main source of livelihood, which includes crop cultivation, herding and fishing. However, food is scarce, increasing poverty in Sudan. The limited size of landholdings, low productivity rates and inability to increase incomes prevent farmers from food production. Poor rainfall and lack of domestic water supplies are other hindrances for crop cultivation. To avoid these conditions, people have fled from Sudan to the Nile river.

Isolation is one of the key factors of poverty in Sudan. People settling away from the main thoroughfares have no access to services and markets, making them vulnerable. Government corruption creates imbalances in the distribution of resources; a large part of the economy is spent on military security apparatus. This fiscal policy is another important consideration in answering the question ‘why is Sudan poor?’

To fight poverty in Sudan, the World Bank agreed to provide $100 million in order to establish development projects in Sudan until 2019. Sudan’s state minister predicted that the economy of Sudan would grow by only 0.2 percent per year.

Aishwarya Bansal

Photo: Flickr


Famine has been officially declared as people are dying from hunger in Sudan. The United Nations has said the situation is “desperate” in the Southern state.

Nearly 100,000 people are facing famine so serious that they are at risk of dying in the Southern Unity State of the country. One million people are currently on the border of famine and almost five million are in need of some type of humanitarian aid.

On February 22, 2017, the United Nations spoke out about the rising crisis of hunger in Sudan is leading to rising deaths. Five million South Sudanese do not have an adequate amount of food and that number is expected to rise. Over one million of those are severely malnourished children who are at immediate risk of dying.

South Sudan is a country of around 12 million people in Northern Africa. Around 80 percent of the country’s population lives in rural areas, with more than 30 percent of the children under the age of five being undernourished. The life expectancy is 55.7 years.

South Sudan became an independent nation from the Republic of Sudan in 2011 but has faced a civil war since 2013 that continues to this day. Many aid workers in the country have faced violence because of the ongoing war with some even having been forced to leave the country.

The United Nations and its humanitarian partner organizations want to assist nearly six million people in 2017 in South Sudan as well as other countries struggling with the same crises. The situation is expected to get worse in the coming months due to the height of the lean season if something is not done immediately. Emphasis has been placed on the fact that these types of issues are stemming from disputes, which means that they are preventable.

Some organizations working to provide aid for hunger in Sudan are UNICEF (The United Nations International Children’s Fund), FAO (The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), Action Against Hunger, and WFP (The World Food Programme). These organizations work to provide a variety of types of support to those who are affected. UNICEF, focusing specifically on children, is working to provide treatment for children facing extreme malnutrition. FAO is working to make food more secure and to increase incomes. Action Against Hunger is working to provide emergency care and treatment. WFP is working to provide nutritional school meals, general nutritional support and provides money transfers for displaced people in need of food.

Shannon Elder

Photo: Flickr

Fight for Clean Water in Sudan
Getting safe and clean water in Sudan continues to be an ongoing struggle that the Sudanese people have endured for decades. Plagued by war, poverty and disease, the ongoing water stress in Sudan has created a strain on political and economic situations and taken a toll on infrastructure and agricultural systems.

Given that the livelihood of Sudan is reliant on the agricultural industry, which requires 97 percent of the country’s water usage, the lack of rainfall and desertification has contributed to a prevalent impoverished state. Family displacement is a continuous problem as families seek out potentially prosperous land elsewhere.

To put into perspective, the U.S. domestic water use “accounts for 13 percent of total supply,” whereas availability for the domestic use of clean water in Sudan is two percent. Adding to this insufficient supply of water, issues such as a rapidly increasing population, drought and the unregulated disbursement of large water sources, such as the Nile River Basin, are being ignored.

While economic and political strife remains, family life is also at stake. Each day a mother or child must walk far distances in order to gather the necessary amount of water needed to cook and clean. Oftentimes, an individual can travel up to four hours to locate a safe water source, while risking their safety due to prevalent gender violence. Such demands cause children to forego education in order to help contribute to family needs. Every day an individual is faced with the possibility of running out of the clean water gathered that day and deciding whether or not to risk their health by drinking from a risky water source.

Lastly, the most important consideration in the face of Sudan’s water crisis is protecting and sustaining the health of the population. Misuse of water sources, pollution and fecal contamination are key contributors to the waterborne diseases that spread throughout Sudan. In 2004, 3,753 cases of Hepatitis E were contracted within four months and in 2006, 476 deaths in just five months occurred as a result of contaminated water. Other common waterborne diseases include Guinea Worm Disease from which three out of five cases originate in Sudan.

Fortunately, many organizations and nonprofits have aided in the redevelopment of the water quality in Sudan. Water is Basic was formed in 2006 following the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which set out to end the civil war in Sudan. Since 2008, the organization has installed and restored over 500 clean water wells and “to date, [has] brought clean water to 10 percent of the total population of South Sudan.” Their Carry the Jerry annual race has brought awareness to the hardships Sudanese people endure as participants complete the race by carrying the Jerry cans used to transport fresh water to and from non-local sources.

Similarly, a 2012 pledge from Japan, promising $50 million in infrastructural aid is projected to be completed in 2017. This will provide clean and convenient water access to 400,000 residents of Juba, Sudan. Other ongoing effort initiatives exist from numerous organizations such as Water For South Sudan, the Water Project and Africa Heartwood Project.

The current global efforts to provide clean water in Sudan has introduced a new hope for the Sudanese by empowering them to establish community and leadership with the ultimate hope that Sudan will one day be a self-sustaining country. With the help of various organizations, jobs have been established for Sudanese individuals providing them with income to send their children to school, preserve their households, and to “dream of a future.”

Amy Williams

Photo: Flickr

Meningitis Vaccine
Meningitis is an infection, either viral or bacterial, that occurs around the brain and spinal cord. The bacterial form of this disease can have very severe consequences. According to PATH, 10 percent of victims die even with antibiotic treatment — 80 percent without any treatment — and survivors can still suffer from hearing loss or paralysis. Thankfully, a new meningitis vaccine offers hope despite these daunting statistics.

Sudan is one of 26 countries in Africa located in the “meningitis belt,” an area with a total population of about 450 million that has been deeply affected by meningitis over the past century. Epidemics arose about once every eight to 12 years according to PATH, and in 1996 twenty-five thousand people were killed in the largest meningitis epidemic.

Addressing meningitis in Africa is difficult because although meningitis A is one of the main causes of epidemics in Africa, most industrialized countries have meningitis C posing the largest problem. As a result, vaccine manufacturers focus on designing vaccines for industrialized countries to net more profit, and unfortunately, African countries then fail to receive the types of vaccines they need to combat meningitis A.

MVP to the Rescue

The creation of the Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP) via a collaboration between the WHO and PATH in 2001 did much to help the situation. MVP was able to create a meningitis A vaccine, trademarked as MenAfriVac, that could also be cheaply administered for less than 50 cents for one dose.

MVP then introduced the vaccine in mass vaccination campaigns, and as a result 235 million people gained immunity. Amazingly, only 80 cases of meningitis A were recorded in 2015 — a huge improvement compared to the 250,000 reported cases from the 1996 epidemic.

Continuing the Success

So why then is Sudan incorporating the vaccine into its routine immunization program important if so much progress has been made in reducing meningitis outbreaks? Despite the success of the current round of immunizations, if the vaccines are not continually administered in the future, epidemics could begin again in as early as fifteen years.

The fact that the meningitis A vaccine is now part of Sudan’s routine immunization program means that at birth children will automatically receive the vaccine. As long as this program remains in effect, Sudan will likely not have to worry about meningitis. This year, 720,000 Sudanese children less than one year of age are expected to receive the vaccine.

Additionally, another vaccination campaign targeting children between one and five years old will go into effect this September. These children might have missed out on the Sudanese vaccination campaign that took place in 2012 and 2013, so the additional vaccinations provide another precaution against an outbreak.

Other countries should follow Sudan in adopting the meningitis vaccine into routine immunization programs. That way, these countries will be able to suppress meningitis on their own even without vaccination campaigns, and help hundreds to combat the deadly infection.

Edmond Kim

Photo: Flickr

Mycetoma Research
One of the top diseases in Sudan is mycetoma: a devastating illness caused by a fungal infection of the skin and bone. A causative organism, such as an infectious fungal spore, will enter the body through an open wound or abrasion and works its way through skin and tissue until it colonizes bone material. The disease can be treated with antifungal medication, but the currently available drug is only 30 percent effective and too expensive for the populations at risk.

The populations most likely to contract mycetoma are rural, isolated communities that fall within the “mycetoma belt,” including Venezuela, Chad, Ethiopia, India, Mauritania, Mexico, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. There is an especially long history of Mycetoma in Sudan beginning when the country produced the first report on the disease in the early 1700s, earning its reputation as the mycetoma homeland.

Generally, people in affected communities have limited access to healthcare and will contract mycetoma from walking without protective footwear. The mycetoma-causing fungus enters the body through a prick or scape on the foot. Over time, the infection will spread to the individual’s bone and they will lose function of the affected limb.

Unable to travel long distances for medical attention, the individual is commonly forced to amputate. If they do not die from infection, many patients will suffer from additional postoperative complications, as their community healers don’t have the resources to perform safe and sanitary amputations. Mycetoma can be passed from person to person if contact is made with an infected area or surface harboring mycetoma-causing organisms.

The worst part about mycetoma is how little the world knows about its causes and symptoms. Mycetoma is so neglected that it just recently made the World Health Organization’s list of Neglected Diseases in May 2016, though cases date back more than 300 years.

While the disease is widespread, mycetoma research in Sudan is historically misrepresentative. In previous years, when the disease was not included in the WHO list of Neglected Diseases, mycetoma went unreported as doctors and healthcare workers were not actively seeking out cases.

Only two large-scale epidemiological studies for mycetoma research have ever been conducted to estimate prevalence throughout an entire country, in Mexico and Sudan. Both studies ended by 1985, rendering the results incredibly outdated.

Besides the two nation-wide studies, several single-center studies have attempted to perform a meta-analysis using specific cases from various countries. A 2014 study used cases from India, Mexico, Niger and Sudan to estimate the prevalence per country and found that prevalence ranked between 3.49 and <0.01 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

On paper, these numbers hardly represent the holistic effects mycetoma has on rural, isolated regions, whose infected inhabitants cannot reach universities or research centers. Consequently, mycetoma receives barely any funding from international organizations and medical programs.

While the disease may not be accurately represented through numbers or statistics, it has a palpable, multiplying effect, as infected individuals cannot work, attend school or perform manual labor. Thus, not only does one case affect multiple people, but the disease creates a disastrous cycle wherein a sick individual loses the ability to walk, cannot reach medical professionals and goes unreported.

An organization called Drugs for Neglected Diseases (DNDi) recognizes the severe lack of attention paid to mycetoma within the medical community. This past May, DNDi launched a clinical trial for the new antifungal drug Fosravuconazole. Starting in July, Fosravucinazle will be investigated in a randomized controlled experiment, alongside the current medicine, itraconazole.

DNDi has chosen to conduct the study in Sudan, at the Mycetoma Research Center at the national university is in Khartoum.

In addition to investigating new treatment, the study will contribute to the research center’s previous reports. Between 1991 and 2014, the research center reports 6,792 cases of mycetoma in Sudan. But, as stated before, the prevalence of mycetoma in isolated communities is likely much higher.

To put matters into perspective, the Sudanese state of Gezira yields over 80 percent of the total number of reported cases at the Mycetoma Research Center. However, a Gezira resident would need to travel 118 miles to get to Khartoum, making the journey financially and logistically difficult, since the majority of patients are of low socioeconomic status.

Out of all the cases, 76 percent of the patients were male, while 64 percent were under 30 years old. Additionally, 28 percent were students. These numbers indicate how devastating the disease is for many people besides the infected individual, as Sudanese Men under 30 are usually primary providers for their families. Not to mention that a disease that impairs a student’s ability to go to school lessens the individual’s chance of transcending poverty.

DNDi researchers are hoping to discover a higher success rate with Fosravuconazole and gain enough regional support to partner with a regular manufacturer. Dr. Nathalie Strub-Wourgaft, medical director for the organization, said the team is “very excited about the possibility of a new treatment against this terrible and neglected condition,” as “patients have received little attention and virtually no research.”

The neglected history of mycetoma speaks to larger issues within the global health community. The disease creates a cycle; infected individuals are too isolated to be treated and too few in number to capture the attention of countries who are in a position to offer assistance.

DNDi mycetoma research in Sudan is a much needed step in the right direction. Hopefully, the clinical trial will demonstrate how important it is for the international community to investigate other neglected diseases, especially those which have had a multiplier effect in impoverished communities.

Jessica Levitan

 

Sanctions In SudanThe U.S. designated Sudan a “state sponsor of terrorism” in 1993 when it was revealed that President Omar al-Bashir’s government was protecting terrorists, including Osama Bin Laden. There have been sanctions in Sudan ever since.

However, it has recently been pointed out by various publications and organizations that the sanctions have not had their desired effect. Foreign Policy, for instance, has pointed out that rather than crippling Sudan’s privileged and corrupt elite, the sanctions have done little more than exacerbate the poverty that 39 percent of the African country’s population lives in. Some would argue that it is, therefore, time to lift sanctions in Sudan.

The ways that the sanctions harm ordinary Sudanese are numerous. For one thing, isolation of the country’s biomedical sector has severely impacted its already dismal state of health care provision. Doctors often have to use outdated technology or black market products because necessary equipment is too expensive.

Furthermore, scientists and academics cannot perform important research because they are prevented from subscribing to certain journals, buying certain books and accessing databases used by laboratories around the world. It is difficult for them to collaborate with scientists from the U.S. and other more advanced countries, which would be a crucial aspect to development.

Things are similarly tough for aid and development institutions. Though food, medicine and humanitarian assistance are technically exempted from sanctions, obtaining waivers is difficult and sometimes impossible. Many organizations that would like to deal with Sudan balk because of the need to navigate thorny bureaucratic territory to secure special licenses. In other developing countries, a lot of this work would be performed by intermediary banks but since complying with the sanctions is such a hassle, many are unwilling to do so.

The IMF has reported that the dissolution of relations between Sudanese banks and their foreign counterparts is in large part the result of U.S. policy. Last year, the French bank BNP Paribas, after being caught doing business with Sudan, Iran and Cuba, was forced to pay an $8.9 billion penalty. This punishment has highlighted the increased risks banks have faced since 9/11 in dealing with countries that have some history of financing or otherwise abetting terrorism.

Despite having in these ways taken a significant toll on ordinary Sudanese, the sanctions have failed to oust Bashir from power or put an end to violence in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan regions. To lift sanctions in Sudan would allow the country new opportunities to develop and address its economic and political crises.

Up until recently, such change seemed like a pipe dream, since U.S.-Sudan relations have kept at a destructive standstill. However, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators is looking to loosen things up.

According to TheHill.com, Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) are hoping to undo travel restrictions that halt travel between Sudan and the U.S. The legislation they plan to introduce “would allow individuals from countries in the Visa Waiver Program who have dual citizenship with Iran, Iraq, Syria and Sudan to travel to the United States without a visa.” A bipartisan group of representatives plans to introduce similar legislation in the House.

These moves are not as major as a decision to lift sanctions in Sudan but they do point to the possibility that momentum will be gained in that direction in the near future.

Joe D’Amore

Sources: Foreign Policy, IMF, The Hill 1, The Hill 2

Data Literacy
The World Bank has launched a data literacy program to improve evidence-based policymaking and development outcomes in Sudan.

Funded by UKAid, experts from the World Bank will work over the next eight months to bridge the gap between data producers and data consumers. The program will bring together statisticians, who produce oftentimes complex development indicators, and journalists, academics and government officials, who use this data to inform policymaking.

“This initiative is timely,” said World Bank Country Representative to Sudan, Xavier Furtado. “In addition to better quality data, the World Bank hopes that the Evidence Base Program will contribute to greater transparency and accountability in how public policy is debated and decisions are made.”

Sudan faces a complex set of development issues requiring sound policy.

The most recent data from the World Health Organization indicates that the under-five mortality rate is 77 per 1000 children, the maternal mortality rate is 360 per 100,000 live births and the number of deaths due to tuberculosis is just over 25 per 100,000 citizens. The most recent data from The World Bank indicates that 46.5 percent of the population in Sudan is living in poverty.

But WHO notes that its figures haven’t been updated since 2013 and Sudan didn’t begin to measure these statistics until between 1990 and 2000. The World Bank also notes that its figures have not been updated since 2009. On the World Bank’s 0-100 scale of level of statistical capacity, Sudan sits just above 51, compared to the average for all sub-Saharan African countries of 70.

Finding solutions to the challenges facing Sudan will require targeted, efficient development programs and leaders cannot hope to make progress without first filling its data literacy and acquisition gaps.

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has also been working toward this objective. Since 2006, UNDP has hosted workshops designed to train government representatives on how to understand, analyze and utilize development data – hoping to foster better aid policy.

“We understand that changes will not happen overnight,” Furtado said. But by building capacity to collect, analyze and manage reliable data at national and provincial levels through its new program, the World Bank hopes to ingrain data use into the development culture of the fragile state. In turn, they estimate that better programs and more inclusive economic growth will occur.

Ron Minard

Sources: UNDP, WHO, World Bank 1, World Bank 2
Photo: USAID