AIDS and TBIn an August 11th press release, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) announced a $41 million financial injection to Sudan to advance its response to the HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis (TB) epidemic.

Sudan is an African Country in the Nile Valley of North Africa bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea, Eritrea, and Ethiopia, to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west and Libya to the northwest.

Although recent years have seen improvements in the response to HIV/AIDS and TB, the illnesses maintain their death grip on the population.

The UNDP, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health in Sudan and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, has created two new partnership agreements totaling $41 million for the country to continue fighting the deadly diseases.

The funding is broken into two grants. The first grant worth $20.4 million will be used to manage and track the decrease in TB cases from now until 2017, as well as to commit to identifying more new cases.

By identifying more cases of TB, the disease can be better controlled and spread less. The grant will also go toward improving treatment for 90 percent of newly infected patients as well as for 75 percent of those undergoing a relapse.

The second grant amounting to $20.8 million will go toward halting the spread of HIV among communities most at risk between now and 2017. The grant will also work at keeping the HIV prevalence rate below 2.5 percent among key populations and below 0.3 percent among the general population.

The UNDP, since 2005, has been a key organization assisting Sudan with its ongoing health care challenges. It’s played an important role in decreasing the transmission and morbidity rate of HIV and TB plaguing the Sudanese.

In the past few years, the UNDP has assisted the government with containing the epidemic, increasing service coverage and strengthening the national health system.

The UNDP website reported that the number of people accessing HIV counseling and testing increased from 14,000 in 2007 to more than 250,000 in 2014. In the same period, the number of health facilities providing antiretroviral treatment increased from 21 to 36.

Also, as of 2014, the number of people receiving antiretroviral treatment has increased to 3,937 from only 319 back in 2007.

UNDP Sudan Country Director Mr. Selva Ramachandran was quoted in the press release to say, “UNDP’s goal is to strengthen the response at the national, state and local level by supporting the development of local expertise and backstopping program performance.

To get TB under control, the authorities are planning to provide social support to patients and develop a national campaign to fight the stigma and discrimination that severely hinders TB efforts. Regarding HIV, testing is essential to bend the curve of the epidemic and we remain committed to supporting the provision of HIV testing, counseling and treatment to those in need.”

In nations like Sudan, poverty grips the population and health care can be almost nonexistent. With the help of the UNDP and the extra funding given, the fight to help the poor in Sudan has again gained momentum, and another dent in ridding these ugly diseases has been made.

Jason Zimmerman

Sources: United Nations Development Programme, The Global Fund,
Photo: Flickr

The Nuba Mountains in Sudan were once seen as a sanctuary but because of their remoteness and ongoing military struggle in the area, the largest measles crisis in years is currently sweeping across Sudan. Due to the power struggle between the government and rebels, children have been denied access to immunization.

The measles virus is spread by respiratory transmission and is highly contagious. Up to 90 percent of people without immunity who are sharing a house with an infected person will catch it.

According to UNICEF, Sudan has already seen 2,700 cases of measles this year. “Of these, roughly one in 10 will die. The fear now is that, with around 150,000 children under 5 in the Nuba Mountains who have had no reliable access to immunization since 2011, the situation could explode.”

Without immunization, there is a real potential that more lives will be lost to measles than to the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa. However, in this case, the majority of lives lost will be children.

Sudan’s recent outbreak of measles is not caused by a lack of immunization efforts. In April 2015, UNICEF launched an immunization campaign to first vaccinate children in the highest risk states and then expanding into other areas identified to be at risk.

Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Representative in Sudan said, “Measles is a life-threatening disease but on that can easily be prevented with timely immunization. Every girl and boy must be reached no matter where they live. There are no excuses and no child can be left out.”

Children are the most at risk for contracting measles; children who are malnourished are even more vulnerable. For malnourished children, measles can cause serious health complications including blindness, ear infections, pneumonia, and severe diarrhea.

“In Sudan, some 36 percent of children are stunted and the country has one of the highest levels of malnutrition in Africa. Of the total number of reported measles cases in Sudan, 69 percent are below 15 years of age, including 52 percent under the age of five.” A large portion of the children in Sudan is at risk to contract measles.
With the dispute over border territory around the South Kordofan region, the region has struggled to see vital humanitarian aid that is a crucial lifeline. Since 2011, the region has not seen food and medical supplies.

For the partners of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, there are few options left to deliver the much-needed vaccines. UNICEF and the World Health Organization have put their support behind the efforts of the Ministry of Health.

Another option is to try to get vaccines delivered by partner organizations that are still working in the area. These organizations include Doctors Without Borders and faith-based organizations such as Caritas. However, these organizations are not given immunity and vaccines cannot be promised to be delivered.

In light of this situation, it is also a learning opportunity. Governments must be more proactive about not just responding to humanitarian disasters but by also preventing them. The warning signs need to be recognized. “After all, for any country to have a future it must protect its children.”

Kerri Szulak

Sources: CNN, UNICEF
Photo: Flickr

While Darfur has been at the head of aid policy for a long time, aid may be more important to the region than it has been historically.

In 2003, war in Darfur erupted, partially due to the lack of resources and the diversity of groups living in the area.

Poverty and diversity working together to create conflict is not unique to Sudan, but rather is something that I have seen as well in Kenya. Africa was split into countries, not by groups who wanted to live together, but by European countries seeking land and resources. Now, the people of those countries, including Kenya, are impoverished and left with few resources.

It is easy for groups who did not ever mean to live together to fight over the remaining resources. In Kenya, the conflict is often in the form of cattle raids. In Darfur, there was a split between Arabs and non-Arabs that led to a war against the non-Arab population in Darfur, leaving thousands dead and many more as refugees.

The United States has been providing assistance to Sudan since before this conflict, starting in about the 1980s, but US aid to Darfur did not begin until much later. When the conflict began, USAID became a leader in the effort to stabilize Darfur.

USAID had made progress in transforming the Government of Southern Sudan into a stable government (although civil war has broken out once again). In addition, the organization has provided a million people with access to clean water, as well as increasing the number of children in school.

In May, USAID provided Sudan with emergency food assistance of 47,500 metric tons of grain.

This assistance is crucial at this point in time. Violence in Darfur is increasing and Sudanese people are being recruited into ISIS. Recently, a groups of Sudanese students fled to Syria in order to join the organization.

Areas undergoing political transition and violence are easy places for terrorist groups like ISIS to target as recruitment grounds and safe havens. Darfur is possibly more at-risk for this because of its conflict that began, in part, from Arabs in the region feeling discriminated against.

If Muslims in Darfur continue to feel as if there is no future in their country, because of conflict and poverty, and continue to feel discriminated against, even the United Nations is afraid that Darfur could be a “breeding ground” for extremist groups like ISIS.

Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, however, would like for the African Union and United Nation’s troops to pull out of Darfur. Yet, this is not the time.

In light of the conflict, and rise of ISIS, Darfur can use all of the aid that it can get. The United States should continue to be a role model in helping Darfur by increasing aid to the region. With increased aid, hopefully other leaders in world aid will follow suit and increase aid to the region.

The increased emergency food aid was a good first step, but perhaps increased structural aid should come next.

– Clare Holtzman

Sources: Aid Data, All Africa, WN, Brookings, National Bureau of Economic Research, Open Democracy, Poverties, Reuters, Slate, Time, Thomas Reuters Foundation, USAID
Photo: End Genocide

Sudanese refugee camps
South Sudan is a country that has been torn apart by war and internal conflict for over 20 years, having only brief interludes of peace. The violence continues today, pushing many people to flee to nearby countries like Uganda and Kenya. However, the violence disrupts more than just daily lives. Over one million South Sudanese children do not attend primary school. Many have fled to Sudanese refugee camps where an education is not offered, and for those who stayed, the conditions are too dangerous to hold or attend classes.

The decades of war have damaged several generations of young Sudanese students, denying them an education. As a result, there is a high illiteracy rate in South Sudan. The adult population that grew up under the first waves of conflict, is about 73 percent illiterate. In the age range of 15 to 40, more than two million people are illiterate. Females have a higher illiteracy level because they are less likely to receive an education due to traditional customs of marrying at a young age. About 65 percent of the illiterate youth are female. About 10 percent of children, ages 6 to 17, have never been to school, with the percentage being higher in rural areas versus urban.
Several individuals, and an organization known as Project Education South Sudan, are out to give the next generation the gift of knowledge both in the country and in Sudanese refugee camps. Many believe that creating schools and educating the next generation is the best way to heal a war-torn nation. Alaak, a teacher in a Sudanese Refugee Camp in Uganda told the U.N., “Education is crucial in raising a generation of informed and skilled people, and also as a way to help children deal with the horrors they have witnessed… If you give them [children] education, they will grow up with healthy brains.”
By building schools and providing the resources in refugee camps, the teachers hope the education can encourage these students to create a peaceful South Sudan.
Katherine Hewitt

Sources: UNICEF, Project Education Sudan, NPR, UNHCR, World Bank
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Sudan
Poverty in Sudan is widespread and varies according to region, with ducxisting conflicts as well as economic and social inequalities contributing to the large number of impoverished people. Inequality in education and limited access to health care, clean water, sanitation, resources and income has also impacted poverty in the country, especially in North Sudan.

Although Sudan still ranks among the poorest countries in the world, it has also seen great economic progress. Since 1990, Sudan’s extreme poverty rate declined from 85 percent to 46 percent and continues to be on the decline today, according to the results from the Millennium Development Goals.

The reality, however, is that one out of two people living in Sudan is impacted by poverty; meaning, he or she does not have the means to buy food or the ability to properly care for him or herself. Results from the MDGs reveal that an estimated 15 million people all over Sudan are considered poor.


Causes of Poverty in Sudan


Currently in North Sudan, an estimated 44.8 percent of the population lives beneath poverty lines, with poverty rates higher in rural areas (55 percent) than in urban areas (28 percent). High unemployment rates (17 percent) as well as low employment opportunities contribute to the economic disparity found in many regions of Sudan.

Additionally, the expanding population along with climate change have affected the agricultural sector, which in turn impacts food security and the livelihoods of people living in Sudan. For rural populations, unreliable rainfall, low productivity and small landholdings are major contributors to poverty in the area. These factors have also impacted malnutrition and children who are underweight. One third or 32 percent of children who are under the age of five is underweight as a result of chronic malnutrition.

Areas that are considered to be most vulnerable to poverty are regions that have been affected by isolation. A large majority of settlements in Sudan exist far away from main urban cities and have limited access to social services. Additionally, isolated territories are harder to track in terms of poverty and progress. The amount of people living in poverty in isolated regions is not completely known and is difficult to estimate as well.

However, what is known, is that there is a substantial amount of people living in those territories that suffer from hunger and disease. The poorest areas that are largely impacted by isolation include Southern Sudan, Southern Darfur, White Nile and Blue Nile.

Although there are many factors contributing to poverty in Sudan, internal conflicts are further fueling the volatile state of the region. Sudan has had over 20 years of internal conflict that cost an estimated 1.5 million people their lives and devastated the population as a whole. The civil conflict emerged from social and political inequalities and a neglect of the rural regions. Unfair distribution of land and land reforms, as well as misguided resources for urban and rural developments, have caused conflicts in the country. Despite signing a peace treaty a few years ago, the country is still suffering from the devastation the conflict caused to its citizens.

However, overall, poverty in Sudan has been on the mend as reforms and aid targeted through the MDGs have helped improve poverty rates in the region.

– Nada Sewidan

Sources: World Bank 1, World Bank 2, UNDP, Rural Poverty Portal
Photo: Penn State

poverty in khartoum
Sudan is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world, but poverty desperately affects the population of 44 million.

The city of Khartoum is notorious for its destitution. The population has tripled over the past 20 years; however, the government has not implemented any formal accommodation for this influx. The current government is not a sufficient resource to address poverty in Khartoum as it lacks information and the capacity to combat the issue.

It is recorded that 180,000 people died of poverty before 2004 when the conflict finally gained international attention, with the U.N. warning on “atrocities” and Powell declaring it a genocide. Poverty linked with conflict has killed several million people in Sudan and South Sudan.

The conflict between Sudan and South Sudan is a significant source of poverty for the area. The tension over oil fields has created an unequal wealth distribution between the north and the south.

According to, “Even Khartoum remains pretty opaque regarding its resource management and never appeared ready to give up its oil revenues that easily. Injustices, grudges and protests are likely to keep on fueling armed conflicts, thus threatening the stability of the two countries and throwing countless more people into poverty in Sudan (North and South). Little effort has been made to stop the growing, oil-induced social turmoil and corruption that affect the whole region…The most simple thing to do would be to fund some social assistance to overcome land issues and poverty in Sudan and thus the extent of social unrest.”

Poverty is an undeniable threat to the existence of humanity in the 21st century. The global commitment to promoting adequate standards of living for all people is emphasized in the Millennium Development Goals, which sought to reduce poverty by half by 2015. Poverty cannot be overcome with a singular solution as it is very multidimensional. Poverty is experienced differently across time, space, culture and even gender. For example, poverty is most severe during specific weather seasons, while other times poverty is more static.

According to research conducted at The University of Khartoum, a “serious campaign against poverty necessitates opening up the issues to public debate, raising people’s awareness of them and directing the media to that end.” The overwhelming axiom is that South Sudan suffers from chronic underdevelopment and lacks the administrative capacity to address local and domestic needs. A lack of secure funding for the country, accompanied by failures of governance, have led to local level tensions and competition for limited resources (including but not limited to water, land, cattle, food and education.)

There are multiple actors required to adequately address destitution in Khartoum including governmental and non-governmental groups, private actors, communities and the youth. Existing institutions require additional funds, freedom and credibility. While the situation in Khartoum is stark, the space for improvement is vast.

Neti Gupta

Sources:, The Guardian, SagePub
Photo: Post Conflict

Sudanese UN Camp
Seeking refuge from widespread violence, 40,000 South Sudanese people are living in horrific conditions in a U.N. compound in Bentiu. Medecins Sans Frontieres reported difficult conditions since the camp’s opening nearly four months ago, but the onset of the rainy season in July caused massive flooding throughout the area. Over one thousand makeshift shelters have been flooded, but camp residents are too afraid of the raging civil war to leave. Instead they remain knee-deep in sewage-contaminated water, even going so far as to sleep standing up with infants in their arms.

“Outside we have been destroyed by war. We come here, we have been destroyed by water,” said Mary, an 18-year-old refugee living in the South Sudanese U.N. camp. “We don’t know what to do.” Some have tried to scoop water out of their shelters with cooking pots, or build mud barriers across doorways to prevent flooding—but to no avail.

Due to the sewage-contaminated floodwater, as well as a lack of clean drinking water and latrines, there is a constant risk of infection. This risk is exacerbated by the growing rates of poverty and malnutrition among refugees. More than 200 residents of the camp have died since May, most of them children. And although mortality rates have lowered in the last few weeks, at least one child still dies every day.

Ivan Gayton, emergency coordinator of MSF called for urgent drainage efforts: “It’s difficult to drain here—it’s a large grass swamp—but nevertheless it’s possible.” He added, “There are excavators here, there is machinery here, there are a lot of assets that could actually be deployed to improve conditions within this protection-of-civilians zone.” With a committed and well-planned effort, existing MSF resources could make a profound impact on the state of living conditions for Bentiu residents. In addition, unused dry land in the area immediately outside the camp could be portioned out to those impacted the most by flooding. “There are bits of dry land that can be allocated…. They need to be allocated without delay to the people who are trying to make their lives in this absolutely terrible flooded condition,” said Gayton.

As of yet, little effort has been made toward drainage of the camp. But what is obvious is that the current situation is unjustifiable without immediate efforts to improve conditions. The residents are unable to leave Bentiu because they fear being killed once outside the relative safety of the camp. Most fled ethnically-charged fighting between government forces and rebels under opposition leader Riek Machar in December, and there is no end to the conflict in sight. But the deplorable conditions in the compound are not much better: according to MSF, people should be protected and safe from disease as well as from violence.

Gayton said, “Protection is not really meaningful if the conditions under which you can be protected aren’t even fit for human life, let alone dignity.”

– Mari LeGagnoux

Sources: MSF, Al Jazeera, Africa Journalism The World,
Photo: The Guardian


Without any other choice, people are fleeing the country of Eritrea. The Eritrean government has been involved in several forms of human rights violations since 1993, when they broke off from Ethiopia. It is described by Human Rights Watch as “one of the most closed countries” in the world.

Reporters without Borders rank the country last on their freedom index and Amnesty International believes the country has imprisoned more than 10,000 citizens for political reasons since 1993. Despite all these violations, the government claims they have made progress in working to reach six of eight of the U.N.’s anti-poverty goals.

As a result of these rights violations, previous estimates show that Ethiopia had been experiencing a monthly inflow of 2,000 refugees. Italy has experienced an inflow of 13,000 Eritrean refugees since the beginning of the year and Sudan has also seen a rise in those seeking asylum.

More recent estimates by U.N. investigators, however, average the number at 4,000. Investigators describe this 50 percent spike as “shocking” and a sign that the situation has gotten worse since last year’s U.N. report.

Accusations of abuse by the Eritrean government include indefinite service in the country’s army, detainment of citizens without cause, secret imprisonment, torture and forced labor. The government has also enforced guilt by association laws for families of those who flee, resulting in fines or detainment. Many die while in detainment due to appalling living conditions including extreme heat, poor hygiene and very little food.

The path to freedom is a rocky journey often involving the crossing of deserts and seas. Many drown in the sea or die from the extreme heat in the desert, yet their hope and lack of choice drives their journey as they risk life and limb to reach free land.

Poverty provides opportunities for oppression and also creates the conditions necessary for oppression to thrive. When people of the world do not have the resources necessary to retaliate or the power necessary to change policy, they are left with few options. Often, the best choice is to leave, and so they do, often in the face of great danger.

Christopher Kolezynski

Sources: Bloomberg, Voice of America, ABC News
Photo: Cloudfront

10 hungriest countries
This year, 870 million people in the will face continual, day to day hunger. Ninety-eight percent of these hungry people live in developing countries, even though these countries are the ones producing much of the world’s food.

In October 2013, international humanitarian organization Concern Worldwide published a list of the 10 hungriest countries in the world, most of which were in Africa. The list includes Burundi, Eritrea, Comoros, Timor Leste, Sudan, Chad, the Yemen Republic, Ethiopia, Madagascar and Zambia. Patterns as to why these particular countries are hungry have strong historical correlations.

Here are five reasons why these countries are suffering from hunger.

1. Landlocked countries are resource scarce

Countries like Burundi and Chad are landlocked, and they struggle to connect with the coastal areas of Africa. Landlocked countries as a whole have poor transportation links to the coast, either by their own fault or through developmentally and infrastructurally challenged neighbors. Without access to the coast, it’s difficult to integrate with global markets. Thus, they are also cut off from global flows of knowledge, technology and innovation, and unable to benefit completely from trade. Often, the cost of transportation for importing and exporting raw materials is exorbitantly high. Burundi experiences 6 percent less economic growth than non-landlocked countries in Africa, and as many as 58 percent of Burundi‘s citizens are chronically malnourished.

2. Productive land remains unused

In some countries, land is not being effectively used. In Eritrea, almost a quarter of the country’s productive land remains unused following the 1998-2000 Eritrean-Ethiopian war. The war displaced nearly 1 million Eritreans, leaving the country with a need for skilled agricultural workers, as well as plaguing the lands with mines. There is a lot of potentially fertile land in Africa, but the majority of farmers don’t have the technology or means to use the land to its full value. Because of these discrepancies, incomes remain low.

3. War and violence destroy country infrastructure

Countries with a low level of income, slow economic growth, and a dependence on commodity exports are prone to civil war – and most of the hungriest countries have experienced war and violence for decades. Once a cycle of violence and civil war begins in a country, it’s hard to break the pattern. Timor Leste is still paying for seeking independence from Indonesia, which damaged the country’s infrastructure. Sudan is slowly recovering from two civil wars and war in the Darfur region. Chad has had tensions between its northern and southern ethnic groups for years, which has contributed to its political and economic instability.

4. Extreme climate conditions and climate change

Sometimes, causes for hunger are unavoidable – like weather. The 2011 Horn of Africa drought left 4.5 million people in Ethiopia hungry, and since 85 percent of the population earns their income from agriculture, any drought has a detrimental impact on Ethiopians. As an island off the coast of Africa, Madagascar is especially prone to natural disasters like cyclones and flooding, and experienced its worst locust plague yet in 2013. Climate change is also viewed as a current and future cause of world hunger. Changing climatic patterns across the globe require changes in crops and farming practices that will not be easy to adjust to.

5. Increasing refugee populations

Finally, the presence of refugees in a country adds to the growing pressure on already limited resources. This is the case in Chad, which has over 400,000 refugees from Sudan and the Central African Republic due to political instability and ethnic violence in those countries. Ethiopia is also home to refugees, but because of a different reason – the country continues to welcome refugees from Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia after the Horn of Africa drought.

— Rachel Reed
Sources: GCC, Global Citizen, U.N., WHES
Photo: Mirror

Rural Sudan Drought
Conflicts over oil in Sudan, North Africa’s largest country, caused a series of price inflations that have greatly affected the population. As Sudan’s largest natural resource is oil, the country experienced years of turmoil and conflict with bordering countries over the rights to oil fields. The increase in the price of oil is further reflected in transportation, and the isolation gap between urban and more rural areas has grown. As a result of this isolation, rural areas are unable to access necessary resources and economic growth. These areas have experienced low human development and according to the World Bank Sudan ranks 171 out of 187 countries on the human development indicator. In order to better human development the country must focus more on social and economic factors, especially in these rural communities.

Sudan is mostly made up of rural areas, which are drastically affected by drought, famine and conflict. In particular, the region of Darfur has suffered considerably and is currently the poorest area of the country. In fact, the land in Sudan is unfit to farm because of unreliable rainfall and the area faces major drought. Due to these circumstances, more than half of the population of Sudan lives in poverty and isolation.

Sudan also faces inequality and underdevelopment for most people living in these areas. For instance, access to health services is scarce, leaving more than half of the population without access to health resources. Due to the lack of resources in the health sector the child mortality rate in Sudan is extremely high, with  111 child mortality deaths per 1,000 births. In addition to a high child mortality rate, more than half of the population does not have access to safe drinking water. Instead, these communities rely on rivers, wells, and lakes as their drinking source.

In addition to these factors, there is an extreme lack of education in Sudan, especially for young girls. Even if a young girl does have the option to attend school, she becomes at risk of rape and other forms of violence.

There is an obvious need for social and economic development in rural areas to increase Sudan’s overall human development. Children in rural communities must have equal opportunity for a safe education to improve these areas. Also, while there is a substantial focus on oil, the country should instead shift to agriculture so that proper farming practice can be promoted in rural communities. This would foster economic development and lessen the isolation gap that these rural areas currently face.

– Rachel Cannon 

Sources: The Guardian, Rural Poverty Portal
Photo: Energy Forecast