Sudan war: food prices ‘insanely high’, street gangs wreak havoc in Omdurman

A street vendor on his bicylce in a poor suburbs Omdurman, October 2022 (RD)


Residents of El Sawra Block 29, a poor suburb in Omdurman, are not only suffering from skyrocketing prices and water and power outages, but also from street gangs roaming the he neighbourhood and assaulting people.

“The continued fighting between the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) for more than 40 days by now, is severely affecting food supplies,” journalist El Nour Abdallah told Radio Dabanga.

“We are also suffering from long power and water outages, just like the people in most neighbourhoods in the capital.”

Many people living in the neighbourhood are day labourers. Men often do petty jobs at markets or repair shops, and women often do the laundry and cleaning of people living in richer areas of the city.

The continued fighting has led to less income and the tiny cash reserves they had are almost finished. “Some people do not have enough money to buy their meal anymore,” Haj Nafi, trader and father of a small girl, told Abdallah.

A woman called Rugeya complained about the depletion of cooking gas. “As a result, we are forced to use charcoal, which is a very expensive alternative.”

‘“’As they have no source of income anymore, some people resorted to stealing to be able to buy their food’ – shop owner Yasir Adam

Yasir Adam, a shop owner in the neighbourhood, said that the food prices have risen again.

“The price of a 50 kilogrammes sack of sugar increased from SDG 32,000 to SDG 50,000 SDG. The price of a bottle of cooking oil has risen rose from SDG 23,000 to SDG 35,000, and the price of a kilogramme of flour doubled to SDG 19,000,” he said, and attributed “the insanely high rise in prices” to the lack of fuel and the increasing cost of transportation.

“Customers are scarce,” he said. “As they have no source of income anymore, some people resorted to stealing to be able to buy their food.”

Abdallah also reported that the security situation in many parts of Omdurman is rapidly worsening because of street gangs who are harassing and robbing people.

“The number of street gangs kind of doubled in the past years because of the collapsing economy,” he explained. “Before the war however, police often intervened, but now there are nowhere to be seen anymore, so these robbers, often armed with knives or even guns, now enjoy free reign.”

Also in other parts of the city, people are facing critical food shortages.

The World Food Programme (WFP) tweeted yesterday that it started providing food assistance to people in Sudan’s capital city. “Safety, security and access are critical so we can increase our support to 500,000 people who are stuck in Khartoum.”