Skip to main content

Expectations for near-average harvest remain despite poor start of season, floods

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Sudan
  • August 2013
Expectations for near-average harvest remain despite poor start of season, floods

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through December 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Despite heavy rains in August, rains must be well-distributed through the end of September to ensure maturation of cereal crops in surplus-producing areas of the center and southeast due to a late start of season and persistently low rainfall totals.

    • Flash flooding and continued conflict in August is likely to result in a temporary increase in the number of food-insecure people in Sudan during the peak lean season (August to September) from 4 million to 4.3 million people. 

    • SPLM-N-controlled areas of South Kordofan will remain most food insecure (IPC Phase 4) through September due to conflict impacts on trade and livelihoods during the peak of the agricultural lean season. 

    Current Situation

    Heavy August rains still left some surplus-producing areas in southeastern and central Sudan with cumulative rainfall deficits of 20-50 percent. Planted area is near average, though 30 percent below last year’s high levels. Given the combination of the late start and poor distribution of rains, rainfall must continue strongly through the end of September in order to ensure a near-average harvest. If producers in these areas plant short-cycle varieties of sorghum, this may reduce the impact of the late start of rains. Though available forecasts suggest that rainfall is likely to be average for the remainder of the year, forecasts are uncertain this year. If rainfall does not improve, large reductions in crop production are likely; reductions in food security as a result of insufficient rainfall would extend beyond the surplus-production areas, since the affected areas of Sudan produce approximately 80 percent of the national sorghum harvest.  

    Above-average rains since the beginning of August have caused flash floods in fourteen states of Sudan. Preliminary estimates as of mid-August estimated about 106,000 households (approximately over 500,000 people) directly affected by floods. So far, the worst-affected states are: Khartoum, River Nile, El Gazeira, West Kordofan, Blue Nile, North Darfur, South Darfur and Northern states. The level of the River Nile has reached flood levels of 1988.

    Though the short-term impact of the floods through September is significant, resulting in a slight increase in the number of food-insecure people, the medium-term impacts on food security over the next six months are not likely to be sufficiently significant to change outlook assumptions or projected food security outcomes. Housing and other infrastructure are affected. Due to poor drainage, waterborne disease risk may be above average this year. Restricted market access due to floods is normal at this time of year, and any unusual access restrictions triggered by floods will be temporary. Significant immediate assistance in food and temporary shelter is underway. The heavy rains have significantly relieved June-July moisture deficits in some areas of the traditional rain-fed sector, particularly in North Kordofan, Darfur, and western and southern South Kordofan; positive impacts on rain-fed production are likely there.

    Tribal clashes continue in Darfur. The most recent clashes were between Ma'alia and Rezeighat Arab-rival tribes of East Darfur state. Five villages were sacked, resulting in causalities, loss of livestock, disrupted cultivation and wet season grazing, and displacement in Abu Karinka, Ed Daein and Adila in East Darfur and Um Sa'aona, Abu Sufian, and Dalil Babiker in North Darfur. Prevailing insecurity delayed humanitarian assistance to 105,000 IDPs in Ed Daein area.

    The Implementation Matrix suspension is still expected, though delayed. Sudan declared it will continue to allow the export of South Sudan's crude oil via pipeline and port of Sudan until September 6, 2013. Revenues from pipeline fees are a major source of income for Sudan; the macro-economic impact on exchange rates and inflation is likely to be significant.

    Staple food prices increased faster than expected in some surplus-producing areas due to poor rains in June-July. Normal seasonal increases were observed elsewhere. Retail sorghum prices in July increased by 19 percent in Gadaref and El Geneina as traders held stocks in the face of delayed rains, particularly in surplus-producing areas of Gadaref, White Nile, and Sinnar States and in parts of Kassala, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan states. More seasonable price increases for sorghum were observed elsewhere. Real price levels are still average to low, and nominal July 2013 prices are about 10 percent lower than the same period last year due to last year’s above-average harvest. Despite these recent increases in consumer prices, terms of trade between main income sources (e.g. casual non-agricultural labor, shoats and firewood) are 20 - 40 percent better than at the same time last year. 

    Updated Assumptions
    • Rains are likely to continue through the end of September, enabling late-planted, particularly short-cycle, crops to mature fully.
    • Due to late sowing in many high-potential areas of the southeast, the harvest may not begin until late October instead of late September in normal years, even if shorter-cycle varieties of sorghum are planted. Cereal prices are likely to remain high through September instead of August due to this delay.
    • Therefore, FEWS NET continues to anticipate a near-average harvest at a national scale.

    Projected Outlook through December 2013

    Increasing cereal prices through August and September are not likely to significantly increase food insecurity due to the simultaneous increase in seasonal agricultural labor opportunities and relatively favorable labor-to-cereal terms of trade, which will likely offset the effect of rising prices. The food insecurity of flood-affected people is likely to be temporary as many flood affected people are urban dwellers whose income sources are not vulnerable to flooding. The majority of flood-affected people in rural areas will continue to pursue cultivation this season. The number of people in IPC 2.0 Phase 3 (Crisis) or higher in August-September is likely to be 7 - 10 percent higher than earlier projection by FEWS NET of 4 million people due to flooding and tribal fighting in East Darfur. However the number of people in IPC 2.0 Phase 3 (Crisis) or higher is likely to decline by the beginning of harvest in October to about 3 - 3.3 million people.

    The highest level of acute food insecurity (IPC v2.0 Phase 4) is projected among IDPs in SPLM-N-controlled areas of South Kordofan State during the lean season. Poor households in these areas are expected to be in IPC v2.0 Phase 3 (Crisis). Food security outcomes are expected to improve to Crisis (IPC v2.0 Phase 3) for IDPs  and Stressed (IPC v2.0 Phase 2) for poor households in October due to improved access from own production, wild foods and/or expected improved access to food from markets due to expected seasonal reduction of cereal prices during the harvest period (October to December). In areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile controlled by the Government of Sudan, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity are likely to persist through the scenario period due to access to humanitarian assistance, availability of seasonal agricultural labor, and seasonal declines in grain prices.

    IPC v2.0 Phase 2! (Stressed) is likely among most IDPs in Darfur during the peak lean season due to long-standing assistance sufficient to meet minimum food needs, though some of the 300,000 IDPs displaced in 2013 who have not yet received assistance may be in IPC v2.0 Phase 3 (Crisis). 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2


    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

    Get the latest food security updates in your inbox Sign up for emails

    The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

    Jump back to top