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Conflict and poor harvest likely to drive Crisis and Emergency outcomes in Sudan

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  • Sudan
  • February 11, 2014
Conflict and poor harvest likely to drive Crisis and Emergency outcomes in Sudan

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  • Summary
  • Situation

  • Summary

    An estimated 3.3 million people in Sudan currently face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity. In the coming months, the combined effects of conflict in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur states and a poor 2013/2014 harvest are expected to increase the food insecure population to approximately 4 million. The most severe impacts are expected in Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N)-controlled areas of South Kordofan, where Emergency (IPC Phase 4) levels are likely by the beginning of the lean season in March/April 2014. Above-average levels of food assistance are required to meet the needs of displaced, local, and refugee populations.


    Situation

    An estimated 3.3 million people in Sudan currently face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity. In the coming months, the combined effects of conflict in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur states and a poor 2013/2014 harvest are expected to increase the food insecure population to approximately 4 million. The most severe impacts are expected in Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N)-controlled areas of South Kordofan, where Emergency (IPC Phase 4) levels are likely by the beginning of the lean season in March/April 2014. Above-average levels of food assistance are required to meet the needs of displaced, local, and refugee populations.

    Conflict in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile has intensified in recent months and is expected to worsen during the dry season (November-May). A renewed military campaign by Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) in late 2013 and counterattacks by SPLM-N displaced at least 20,000 people from SPLM-N controlled areas in the Nuba Mountains to Government of Sudan (GoS)-controlled areas. In Darfur, heightened tribal conflict and fighting between SAF and Darfur rebel factions throughout 2013 displaced nearly 500,000 people. The most severe outcomes are among new IDPs in Darfur and IDPs in SPLM-N-controlled areas of South Kordofan, whose access to humanitarian assistance, markets, and labor opportunities is severely restricted.

    This year’s poor harvest is further restricting food access. Cereal production for the 2013/14 season is estimated to be 65-70 percent of the five-year average and 45-50 percent of last year’s good harvest, due to late and below-average rains. In the surplus-producing areas of Gadaref, Sinar, and White Nile states, the sorghum harvest is projected to be 75 percent, 30 percent, and 35 percent, respectively, of the five-year average. In Darfur, North Kordofan, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile states, production estimates range from 40-60 percent of the five-year average. Sudan typically produces a cereal surplus for export, but this year, the country is likely to face a cereal deficit of one million metric tons.

    In addition to the poor harvest, increased production and transport costs (caused by reduced fuel subsidies) and devaluation of the currency are pushing prices well above average (Figure 1). Sorghum and millet prices have continued to increase atypically since the harvest began in November/December (when prices normally decrease), especially in the eastern and central parts of the country. December wholesale sorghum prices were, on average, 30 percent above 2012 levels and 104 percent above the five-year average. Staple food prices are expected to increase rapidly from February to June 2014, by 10-15 percent on average. This will significantly limit purchasing power for most households, particularly those in conflict-affected areas. In Nyala (Darfur), for example, millet prices are 119 percent higher than the five-year average.

    Ongoing conflict in South Sudan may also affect food security in Sudan. Continuation and extension of the conflict to border areas and oilfields in Upper Nile and Unity states of South Sudan could have a significant impact on oil export via facilities in Sudan, leading to major budget deficits and potential austerity measures. Oil production in both Unity and Upper Niles has already been significantly reduced. A likely increase in refugee flows into border areas of Sudan will put pressure on local resources. Conflict in border areas would also impact the nomadic herding populations in Sudan, who normally graze millions of heads of cattle in South Sudan during the dry season.

    With an early start to the lean season in March/April rather than May/June, an increasing number of people will face Stressed and Crisis levels of food insecurity. In Darfur, at least 30 percent of recently displaced IDPs (most of whom are in East and South Darfur) missed cultivation this year and have not yet received humanitarian food assistance; they will face Crisis levels at least through June. In SPLM-N-controlled areas of South Kordofan, Crisis levels of food insecurity will deteriorate to Emergency levels by March/April 2014. Emergency levels involve either extreme food consumption gaps resulting in very high acute malnutrition or excess mortality, or extreme loss of livelihood assets leading to food consumption gaps. Food assistance is critically needed in conflict-affected areas to prevent significant consumption gaps.  More information on projected food security outcomes can be found in the FEWS NET Sudan January to June 2014 Food Security Outlook.

    Figures Sudan cereal prices

    Figure 1

    Average 2013 cereal prices across FEWS NET markets compared to average (five-year) prices (SDG/KG)

    Source: FEWS NET

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