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Sudan and South Sudan advance with establishment of demilitarized buffer zone

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Sudan
  • March 2013
Sudan and South Sudan advance with establishment of demilitarized buffer zone

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through June 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Despite the improved food security situation from the 2012/13 good agricultural harvest season, Stressed and Crisis (IPC Phases 2 and 3) levels will persist through June in conflict-affected areas of South Kordofan, Blue Nile, Abyei, and Darfur.

    • Sudan and South Sudan signed an agreement to withdraw armed forces from border areas and establish a demilitarized zone along the border. This step forward could boost political and economic cooperation between the two countries, and create conditions to enforce previous accords from September 2012. 

    • Reconciliation between conflicting tribes in North Darfur and subclans of the Messeriya in South Kordofan brought an end to the recent deadly fighting in these areas. Access for humanitarian agencies has improved and to date, assistance to over 100,000 conflict displaced people in Serief Saraf Omra and Kebkabiya localities has been delivered. 

    Current Situation
    • Demilitarized buffer zone agreement: The African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) announced that Sudan and South Sudan have agreed on the withdrawal of forces from border areas by the end of March to establish a demilitarized buffer zone along the border. The two countries also committed to various security measures including a Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism. These actions are a first step toward implementing the September 2012 agreement regarding South Sudan's oil export via Sudan, trade flow between the two countries, arrangements to establish an Abyei administration, and access to seasonal grazing by nomads from Sudan to South Sudan. This agreement is likely to trigger a more favorable impact on food security in both countries by increasing revenues from oil exports, thereby curbing inflation and local currency devaluation. GoS indicated a willingness to conduct peace talks with the SPLM-N to settle conflict in Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
    • Rapid assessment in GoS areas of Blue Nile: For the first time since the conflict erupted in September 2011, an inter-agency group (WFP, HAC, Sudanese Red Crescent, and Mubadiroon) conducted a rapid assessment in March, 2013 in several GoS controlled areas in six localities of Blue Nile state. The assessment identified 110,000 people (IDPs, returnees, and residents) in need of humanitarian assistance due to loss of assets, displacement, lack of cultivation last season, limited/lack of income generating activities, and lack of prior humanitarian assistance. WFP is planning to distribute food aid to affected populations during the next 6 to 9 months.
    • Tribal reconciliation: The reconciliation meeting between Beni Hussein and Northern Reziagat (Aballa - camel herders) tribes held on March 1, 2013 in Saraf Omra town has reduced tribal tension and improved access to humanitarian agencies. Humanitarian assistance is now being delivered to over 100,000 people displaced by the two month-old tribal conflict. The opening of the roads has enabled commercial goods and relief supplies to reach the area by road. Another reconciliation agreement between sub-clans of Messeriya tribe of South Kordofan ended the deadly conflict that began in early 2013 and displaced over 11,000 people from El Fula to Al Sunut, Lagawa and Keilak localities.
    • Increasing cereal prices: In February, cereal prices varied. Sorghum prices decreased 5 to 13 percent in Kadugli, El Obied and Geneina markets. Stable trends were reported in Khartoum, El Damazin and Portsudan, while a significant increase of 12 percent was reported in El Fasher (North Darfur) due to a reduction in supply from insecurity. The decreasing/stable trend during the harvest in February is typical following the above-average 2012/13 harvest season. Current sorghum prices were 22 percent higher than last year and 89 percent above the five-year average. Cereal prices will most likely continue rising as is typical through June. The national inflation rate in February was 46.8 percent, a 3.2 percent increase since January.The food price inflation rate has increased from 43.6 to 45 during the same period and non-food inflation has increased by about 12 percent (57 percent in February). The rising cereal prices are likely to reduce access to food by poor/low income households, but are not expected to bring significant changes to food security in relatively secure areas of Sudan during the scenario period.
    • New displacement in South Darfur: During the first week of March, tribal clashes between Beni Halba and Gimir/Tama tribes erupted, displacing 7,000 people (5,500 in Katila locality and 1,500 in Edd EL Fursan locality) over land disputes. In addition, an interagency rapid assessment determined there were about 2,000 newly displaced people near Nyala town in South Darfur (1,555 to Kalma camp and 500 to Beleil camp) from recent fighting between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF). Security conditions continue to deteriorate in South Darfur state, causing further strain to livelihoods and on the commercial supply of basic food needs.
    • Return to GoS areas in South Kordofan: Government officials in South Kordofan announced a plan to return about 11,000 displaced people from Al Rahad (North Kordofan) and Kortala in Habila locality (South Kordofan) to Dalami locality (South Kordofan), a GoS controlled area. By the end of February, 45 to 50 percent of the 105,000 people from Abyei who fled from conflict in May 2011 returned to their villages in Abyei area. More assistance will be required in areas where people are returning until the next rainy season when returnees are able to produce their own food.

    Updated Assumptions

    The agreement between Sudan and South Sudan to withdraw forces from border areas and to allow a demilitarized buffer zone has eased tensions and paved the road for resumption of South Sudan's oil export via facilities in Sudan. Oil revenues will boost the economy of both countries by strengthening local currency and curb inflation. Other positive food security impacts include access to seasonal grazing areas in South Sudan and resumption of trade flow between the two countries. 

    Projected Outlook through June 2013
    • From March to June, the improved food security situation from above-average harvests in relatively secure areas of Sudan (including some parts of Darfur) will be maintained. Cereal prices will continue a seasonal steady increase, but most households will continue to rely on food stocks complemented by market purchase.Most households will continue to have access to food and face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity through the Outlook period. However, in the conflict-affected areas of South Kordofan, Blue Nile, Darfur, and Abyei, Stressed and Crisis (IPC Phases 2 and 3) acute food insecurity will persist through June due to displacement, reduced asset holdings, reduced/no access to cultivation, limited/no access to income sources, exhausted stocks of wild foods, high food prices, and restricted access by humanitarian assistance, unless further implementation of the September 2012 agreement occurs and peace talks settle conflict between GoS and SPLM-N in Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
    • In the SPLM-N controlled areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity is likely to persist at least through June among IDP populations and poor households in host communities. The main drivers of food insecurity in these areas include persistent insecurity and sporadic fighting, reduced access to cultivation over the past two years, restricted population movement to seek labor, restricted access to trade and humanitarian assistance, and continually diminishing household assets. The onset of the lean season in SPLM-N controlled areas is likely to begin earlier (March/April) than usual (May/June). For IDPs in GoS-controlled areas, Stressed levels (IPC Phase 2) will persist due to better access to labor opportunities in urban areas and regular access to food aid provided by the GoS and the humanitarian community.
    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    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.

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