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Hunger continues to worsen in Sudan as a quarter of the population faces acute food insecurity

August 5 - 2022 KHARTOUM
A little girl being tested for malnutrition with Mid Upper Arm Circumference test (MUAC) and receiving special fortified food from WFP at a WFP-supported clinic in North Kordofan (Muna Abdelhakim/WFP)
A little girl being tested for malnutrition with Mid Upper Arm Circumference test (MUAC) and receiving special fortified food from WFP at a WFP-supported clinic in North Kordofan (Muna Abdelhakim/WFP)

In a new Humanitarian Update, published earlier this week, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) explained that "the humanitarian situation in Sudan continued to be a major concern, with a steady increase in food insecurity levels, more civilian displacement and the arrival of more refugees from neighbouring countries, mainly South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Eritrea".

In their report, OCHA explaines that almost a quarter of Sudan's population (11.7 million people) is estimated to be facing acute food insecurity from June to September, according to IPC’s latest analysis.

In June, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned that the number of food insecure people in Sudan may 'dramatically increase' to unprecedented levels and that the "already alarming food security situation is likely to worsen throughout the lean season in Sudan, which started this month and will last through September". By September, up to 40 per cent of Sudanese may slip into food insecurity, the WFP and the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) warned.

In July, Radio Dabanga explained that Sudan’s poverty and food insecurity rates are likely to be significantly higher than those estimated by the country’s authorities and the United Nations (UN).

OCHA warned that the high prevalence of acute malnutrition in Sudan is contributing to increased morbidity and mortality risks among children under-five years. OCHA estimated that roughly four million children under the age of five, pregnant women, and nursing women are estimated to be acutely malnourished and in need of life-saving nutrition. 

Hunger is especially prevalent in Sudan's capital Khartoum, the Darfur regions, Kassala, and White Nile states, which were 'the hardest hit by conflict and economic decline'. OCHA further reported that close to 35,000 newly displaced people were recorded across Sudan in May and June as a result of 'localised conflicts', who face even more risks of hunger. 

The highest prevalence of food insecurity was observed in West Darfur (65 per cent), Central Darfur (59 per cent), North Darfur (56 per cent), and Blue Nile state (50 per cent), OCHA stated. Food insecurity worsened across most states, with households headed by women being more food insecure than their counterparts by 11 per cent, primarily due to limited access to the labour market.

"Economic vulnerability plays a major role in this food insecurity as 95 per cent of households spend more than 65 per cent of their total expenditure on food", OCHA explained.

'Economic vulnerability plays a major role in this food insecurity' - UN OCHA

Funding shortages

However, it also said that the WFP announced its plan to cut rations in Sudan due to funding shortages.

Last month, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Sudan lamented that due to a funding shortfall of $366 million for 2022, WFP is having to prioritise assistance based on the resources available and "make heart-wrenching decisions, knowing that we cannot help everyone in Sudan who needs it”. Soaring food prices are forcing many destitute displaced people in Darfur to face hunger every day.

The October 25 military coup has significantly worsened the situation for many people as Sudan was denied more than $4.4bn in foreign aid, its trade balance deficit nearly tripled, and humanitarian organisations struggle to continue their activities in the country.

Dozens of people reportedly died of hunger in the Foro Baranga camp for the displaced in West Darfur between April and June, as national and international aid organisations have faced ongoing challenges accessing and distributing food and goods in the camp since the coup.

US funding

Amidst these funding shortages, the United States of America (USA), announced that it will provide more than $88 million in additional humanitarian assistance for the people of Sudan "who continue to experience the devastating effects of violence, food insecurity, and climatic shocks, including severe flooding", through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).  

USAID explained that with these funds, the USA government is supporting the UN WFP to provide food assistance, including providing sorghum and yellow split peas, and UNICEF "to provide nutrition assistance to nearly 1.2 million crisis-affected people across Sudan". "To date in Fiscal Year 2022, the United States has provided more than $371 million in humanitarian assistance to Sudan, including more than $348 million from USAID", the statement read.

USAID proclaimed that "the United States continues to stand with the people of Sudan as the country experiences compounding crises and worsening internal displacement".

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