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Umma Party warns for 'serious food crisis' in Sudan

December 7 - 2015 OMDURMAN
NUP General-Secretary Sara Nugdallah speaks at the press conference in Omdurman on 6 December 2015 (Sudan Tribune)
NUP General-Secretary Sara Nugdallah speaks at the press conference in Omdurman on 6 December 2015 (Sudan Tribune)

The National Umma Party (NUP) has warned for a serious food crisis in various parts of the country in the coming months.

In an interview with Radio Dabanga, NUP Co-Deputy Head Rtd. Brig. Fadlallah Burma Nasir said that a committee of experts from the party toured the traditional rain-fed agricultural areas in northern, eastern, central, and western Sudan. “They concluded that a famine will occur if the situation is not taken seriously.”

Nasir said that the “Umma Party prefers to draw attention to negative events before they occur”, and decided to send its experts' report to the government and start alerting the public about the seriousness of the situation “as soon as possible.

“The NUP holds the Khartoum government responsible for any humanitarian disaster if it does not seriously deal with the food crisis,” he stated. “The proper approach is to stop the civil wars in the country, and coordinate the delivery of aid with humanitarian organisations to address the situation before it deteriorates more.”

Regarding the National Dialogue initiated by President Omar Al Bashir, the NUP official commented that it will not resolve the country manifold crises. “The only way out of the current situation is a comprehensive dialogue that responds to all requirements.”

Nasir, NUP General-Secretary Sara Nugdallah, and Co-Deputy Head Maryam El Mahdi presented the committee’s report in a press conference at the party's premises in Omdurman on Sunday.

El Niño effects

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also pointed to the necessity to tackle the risks triggered by El Niño this year as soon as possible.

According to a FAO survey, the 25-80 percent reduction in rainfall coupled with the delayed planting period may lead to a 30-50 percent crop loss. Moreover, the situation has led to limited pasture and water availability and an increased risk of animal diseases.

The full impact of the low harvest will be felt most acutely during the traditional lean season between March and June next year. This could increase food insecurity in affected localities, especially among small-scale farmers and pastoralists who make up the bulk of Sudan’s rural poor.

FAO is currently seeking $4 million to assist 92,000 families (about 520,000 people) in Sudan who are facing increased risk of food insecurity and malnutrition because of El Niño’s impact on livestock.

Task force

A task force including representatives from the Sudanese Ministry of Agriculture, FAO, the World Food Programme, and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network was established to deal with the potential impacts of El Niño in the country.

The task force will prepare a “strong food security and livelihood plan for the 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) in anticipation of a most-likely scenario of a below-average harvest”, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan reported end October.

The government is also building a strategic cereal reserve, which was estimated at about one million tons early August. In El Gezira agricultural scheme, south of Khartoum, sorghum cultivation has been expanded from 400,000 feddan (about 168,000 hectares) to more than 700,000 feddan (about 294,000 hectares).

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