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Sudan’s worsening food security emergency leads to a risk of Famine in some areas

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Sudan
  • February - September 2024
Sudan’s worsening food security emergency leads to a risk of Famine in some areas

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  • Key Messages
  • A risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) exists in parts of West Darfur, Khartoum, and areas with high concentrations of displaced persons in Greater Darfur
  • National Overview
  • Seasonal Calendar for a typical year
  • Current Food Security Outcomes
  • Assumptions
  • Most Likely Acute Food Security Outcomes
  • Events that Might Change the Outlook
  • Areas of Concern: Geneina and surrounding localities, West Darfur state (Figure 12)
  • Most likely food security outcomes and areas receiving significant levels of humanitarian assistance
  • Key Messages
    • After 11 months of conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), humanitarian needs in Sudan are reaching new highs and will steeply escalate during an atypically early start of the lean season in March through September 2024. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is expected to be widespread, while Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is anticipated to expand significantly across Greater Darfur, Greater Kordofan, Khartoum, Red Sea, Kassala, and parts of the southeast. Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) is expected among households in parts of West Darfur, Khartoum, and among the displaced population more broadly, particularly in hard-to-reach areas of Greater Darfur. 
    • The sharp deterioration will be driven by a large national cereal availability gap, the inability to efficiently distribute available food from surplus to deficit areas, and the severe decline in household purchasing capacity amid unprecedented displacement and disruption to livelihoods. Humanitarians continue to face significant access challenges due to the inability to safely move convoys across conflict frontlines and restrictions on cross-border flows at the Chad border. Although the Al Tina border crossing with North Darfur is now open, distance and poor road conditions will pose serious challenges to the flow of aid, particularly in the rainy season. All impediments to trade and humanitarian assistance must be removed, assurances of safe passage to populations in need must be guaranteed, communication networks should be fully restored, and a ceasefire must be reached immediately to avoid further loss of life. 
    • FEWS NET estimates the cereal availability gap will be around two million metric tons, driven by below-average 2023/2024 harvests of the main cereals, severe reductions in imports, and widespread looting of private stocks. With physical and financial access to available food severely constrained, households are expected to increasingly rely on negative livelihood coping strategies, including very heavy dependence on already thinly stretched family and community support, consumption of seeds, increased sales of natural resources, near-liquidation of assets (including livestock and productive assets), and risky migration in search of available income sources such as artisanal mining, given declining access to agricultural labor.
    • In addition to the most likely scenario detailed above, FEWS NET has assessed there is a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in parts of West Darfur, Khartoum, and areas in Greater Darfur with high concentrations of protracted and often re-displaced persons. Populations in these areas already face the most severe access constraints to available food amid high levels of conflict, and the destruction of health services, poor living conditions, and increased waterborne disease incidence during the upcoming rainy season are expected to exacerbate levels of acute malnutrition. As a result, there is a credible risk that the severity of hunger, acute malnutrition, and mortality would accelerate to meet the criteria for Famine (IPC Phase 5) if actions taken by armed parties – either through deliberate isolation of households or through escalation of intense conflict – prevent households from migrating to safer areas in search of food and income for a sustained period of time.  

    A risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) exists in parts of West Darfur, Khartoum, and areas with high concentrations of displaced persons in Greater Darfur

    The scale of acute food insecurity is escalating rapidly in Sudan due to the impacts of the war, which has caused a large cereal availability gap, seriously disrupted commodity flows, and restricted the population’s financial and physical access to food. Cereal production losses are expected to be particularly high in areas proximate to urban centers of conflict in Greater Darfur, Greater Kordofan, and Al Jazirah. Meanwhile, efficient distribution of available food supplies will continue to be stymied by insecurity, high costs, and the proliferation of checkpoints along trade routes. Household capacity to purchase available food will be constrained by extremely high prices and the loss of income given considerable disruptions to livelihood activities.

    Of particular concern are parts of West Darfur, areas with very high concentrations of protracted and often re-displaced persons – including in large camps close to major urban centers of Greater Darfur – and some neighborhoods in Khartoum (Figure 1). These areas are the worst affected by conflict in terms of the scale of disruption to livelihoods, loss of assets, intermittent blockades that have resulted in food shortages, and telecommunication difficulties that have restricted access to remittances and community support. In West Darfur – a region that has a long history of violent conflict that has eroded assets and coping capacity – three episodes of mass atrocities in April/May, June, and November 2023 caused hundreds of thousands to flee to Chad, with tens of thousands also displaced to neighboring localities within West Darfur. Those displaced within West Darfur were unable to cultivate and are heavily dependent on relatives and host communities, who also reduced their cultivation due to the conflict. In other parts of Greater Darfur, the high population of protracted internally displaced persons (IDPs) similarly lack assets and have low coping capacity. In parts of Khartoum – notably Omdurman, which has been at the epicenter of SAF and RSF’s grinding battle for control of the city – both sides have employed siege-like tactics to cut off supplies to their opponent, with adjacent neighborhoods intermittently caught up in the blockades.

    Figure 1

    Displaced population: Pre-existing locations (red), new locations (green), and concentration of displaced persons as of the end of 2023
    Pre-existing camps (red), new camps (green), and concentration of displaced persons as of the end of 2023

    Source: IOM DTM

    With no resolution of the conflict in sight, FEWS NET expects widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3), expanding Emergency (IPC Phase 4), and pockets of Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) in parts of West Darfur, Khartoum, and among the displaced population through September. As food availability and access dwindle, populations are expected to resort to consuming seeds that would have been used for planting; liquidating their assets (including livestock and productive assets) to purchase food; and will increasingly rely on the sale of natural resources, already thinly stretched family and community support, begging, and risky migration through conflict zones in search of food and income. While there are limitations on data collection given conflict, empirical evidence from other food security emergencies demonstrates that large kilocalorie deficits coupled with high disease incidence due to poor water, sanitation, and hygiene conditions lead to high levels of acute malnutrition. One of the few assessments available to date, conducted by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Zam Zam camp near El Fasher of North Darfur in January, found Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) levels based on Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) of nearly 25 percent, well above the emergency acute malnutrition threshold. In the coming months, the interaction of hunger, disease, and acute malnutrition is anticipated to result in rising levels of hunger-related mortality.

    In the context of this worsening food security emergency, FEWS NET assesses there is a credible risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in parts of West Darfur, Khartoum, and in areas of Greater Darfur with high concentrations of displaced persons. The conditions underpinning this risk hinge predominantly on the extent to which actions by armed parties – either through deliberate isolation of households or through escalation of intense conflict that blocks informal cross-border trade flows and cuts off access to food assistance, community support, and remittances – prevent households from migrating to safer areas in search of food and income for a sustained time. The use of these tactics have already been employed to some degree in a periodic, temporary manner; however, if armed groups escalate these tactics for an extended duration, then levels of acute malnutrition and hunger-related mortality would likely accelerate even further than currently projected and breach the Famine (IPC Phase 5) thresholds.


    National Overview

    Conflict and displacements: Eleven months into the war, the conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) shows no signs of abating. Attempts at negotiation continue to fail, given hardline positions held by each side. The war has caused unprecedent displacement, destruction of infrastructure, and disruption to critical services (health, nutrition, banking), trade flows, markets, and economic activity. Amid extensive looting and prevailing insecurity, access to income and food sources are widely interrupted, particularly for the displaced and urban poor in heavily targeted cities. 

    Communications blackout: Between February 5 and 7, all three of the major telecommunication operators in Sudan shut down, plunging Sudan into a blackout for over three weeks that has only recently begun to improve as of early March. While use of Star Link and other satellite connections enabled some limited connectivity, such services were not officially allowed in SAF-controlled areas and are expensive and inaccessible to millions. The food security implications of limited connectivity are significant, particularly in urban centers, where mobile applications enable critical remittances and e-commerce provides a workaround to the challenges of accessing cash. International and local humanitarian operations continue to be affected by the inability to conduct bank transfers and electronic payments. For local operations, such as Emergency Response Rooms (ERR), remittances and donations from the diaspora community are a critical source of funding to run community kitchens and local food security initiatives in urban neighborhoods around the country, including in Khartoum. The blackout forced many to shut down due to a lack of funds, with some estimates of more than 200 out of 300 community kitchens suspending operations as of late February, removing a critical source of food on which many depend. 

    Khartoum: Intense fighting continues in the capital, affecting livelihoods and economic activity in Khartoum, Omdurman, and Bahri. In particular, the battle for Omdurman has intensified, with SAF breaking the siege of the Army Corps of Engineers and re-capturing the state radio and television station in old Omdurman, while consolidating control in the northern neighborhoods. RSF remains in control of western and southern parts of Omdurman, including the sprawling outskirts of Ombada and Salha. Access challenges remain significant in the area; as the two sides seek to cut off the other’s access to supplies, neighborhoods are caught up in intermittent sieges that restrict movement and exacerbate food shortages. 

    Southeast: Following the attacks in mid-December on Wad Madani, direct fighting between the RSF and SAF declined in the state and concentrated more in border areas between Al Jazirah and neighboring Sennar and Gedaref. However, throughout February, serious crimes against civilians have been documented, including reports that RSF is obstructing people from leaving and is terrorizing the population via harassment, sexual violence, forced recruitment, torture, and killing. Looting and destruction of public and private property is extensive, with continued lack of restraint around targeting of critical services such as health, water, and nutrition. In addition, as of the end of January, reports indicate that emergency operations were underway to relocate agricultural seeds from the country’s main seed bank located in Wad Medani to safer areas. The loss of these seeds would reverberate not just on the national agricultural system but on the global food system.

    Greater Kordofan: Since January, conflict has escalated considerably, with heavy fighting in Dilling, Habila, El Obeid, and around Babanusa that has led to increased civilian displacement as the three main armed groups - SAF, RSF, and SPLM-N/Al Hilu - seek to consolidate and expand territorial control. RSF and affiliated tribal militias have been accused of severe atrocities against civilians in and around Dilling in mid-February. These clashes have further inflamed existing ethnic divisions, including between the Nuba and Arab tribes, such as the Hawazmah tribe, as well as greater involvement of the Misseriya. 

    Greater Darfur: Sporadic fighting between RSF and SAF has occurred in January and February, but at lower intensity since RSF consolidated control over the area. The most significant recent events include SAF airstrikes on Nyala of South Darfur and Ad Deain of East Darfur in January and clashes between the RSF and armed groups in Um Keddada of North Darfur in February. The latter led to widespread displacement across the locality, and conditions remain highly volatile; El Fasher remains the last Darfur regional capital not under RSF control. In the RSF-consolidated areas, reports indicate that a relative calm has persisted since late February.

    Figure 2

    Trends in conflict incidence scaled by fatalities in most-affected states from April 15 through March 8, 2024
    Trends in conflict incidence and associated fatalities in most-affected states from April 15 through February 23, 2024 (incidences are scaled by fatalities and states are ordered vertically by number of conflict between April and February)

    Source: FEWS NET analysis using data from ACLED

    Displacement: Approximately 6.5 million are internally displaced since April 15 due to the current conflict, and nearly 2 million have fled across borders. The continued attacks in Al Jazirah through February led to further re-displacement in a heavily populated area, and food assistance remains suspended in the state. As of the end of February, nearly half of the displaced (46 percent) were located in Darfur and Kordofan regions, and the rest were in the eastern and southeastern regions. The majority (66 percent) are sheltering within communities, which adds immense pressure on hosting households, given that the displaced have lost assets and access to normal livelihood opportunities and are heavily dependent on social support. 

    In Greater Darfur, where an estimated 3.8 million were displaced due to prior conflicts, many have been subsequently re-displaced in this current conflict. In January 2024, IOM DTM conducted a consolidation analysis to assess the extent of overlap between protracted displaced and newly displaced, resulting in an estimate of 9 million total internally displaced. Of these, approximately 800,000 are estimated to have been re-displaced, most of whom are in West Darfur (~343,000), North Darfur (~171,000), and South Darfur (~169,000). Many among these re-displaced populations are exposed to high levels of food insecurity indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4), given years of conflict that have eroded their asset base and diminished their coping capacity. In one of the larger camps, Zam Zam camp outside of El Fasher in North Darfur, conditions are reportedly increasingly dire amid an elevated number of recent arrivals in the area (estimated at around 300,000), ongoing insecurity that is limiting household mobility and access to food and income sources, deteriorating purchasing power, very poor water, health, and sanitation conditions contributing to high levels of morbidity, and high levels of malnutrition. In a recent rapid assessment conducted by MSF, nearly 25 percent of children under five were estimated to be acutely malnourished in Zam Zam camp.  

    Cereal availability gap 2023/24: The 2023/24 harvest of all major cereals (sorghum, millet, wheat) is expected to be below to significantly below average. This decline and the expected reduction in wheat imports are anticipated to result in a cereal availability gap of about 2 million metric tons, though limitations on precise harvest data introduce a degree of uncertainty to this estimate. The reduction in domestic production is expected to be similar to that of 2021/22, but the inability to import to the scale needed will worsen the overall cereal availability gap compared to 2021/22. The analysis underpinning FEWS NET’s estimated gap is described in more detail in the subsections below. 

    Main season harvests: As described in FEWS NET’s Alert released on February 2, 2024, the harvest expectations were significantly downgraded following the expansion of conflict into the typically highly productive semi-mechanized and irrigated areas of the southeast. According to preliminary analysis, the main summer season harvests of sorghum and millet are expected to be 30 and 50 percent below average, respectively. These declines were driven by conflict- and insecurity-related disruptions to preparation and cultivation (typically occurring between May and June), spatial and temporal disparities in rainfall through the main season, particularly in the center and southeast of the country, and further conflict-related disruptions to harvesting in areas heavily affected by conflict during the harvesting window of October to January (depending on crop and region). The conflict disruptions during harvesting were most pronounced in parts of Al Jazirah, Sennar, White Nile, Gedaref, and South Kordofan and further compounded by low access to financing, high cost and shortage of inputs and machinery, and scarcity of labor. 

    Figure 3

    Difference in vegetative conditions (NDVI) in mid-February 2024 compared to the same period in 2021 in Gezira and Rahad schemes located in Al Jazirah and Gedaref states (left) and in New Halfa scheme located in Kassala state (right)
    USGS analysis of NDVI difference in Gezira and Rahad schemes located in Al Jazirah and Gedaref states (left) and in New Halfa scheme located in Kassala state (right)

    Source: FEWS NET/USGS

    Wheat harvest: Wheat cultivation is expected to be 50 percent of average production, given current conditions in the Gezira scheme of Al Jazirah state, where the scheme headquarters have been overtaken by RSF, inputs have been widely looted, massive displacement has occurred, and communities continue to be terrorized. The Gezira scheme contributes an estimated 40 percent to the country’s domestic wheat production. Production in other irrigated areas, including New Halfa in Kassala and the recession areas of Northern, is expected to be depressed due to the costs of inputs and lack of financing. Recent analysis of vegetative conditions as of mid-February 2024 reveals that between 27 and 40 percent of the area in these schemes has vegetation health below that of February 2021, a year of relatively good wheat production (measured as NDVI <-0.05).    

    Wheat imports: Sudan normally relies on imports to meet 80 to 85 percent of annual wheat consumption requirements. According to available data, wheat imports declined considerably in 2023, estimated to be 49 percent lower than 2022 imports and 60 percent lower than 2023 wheat import requirements (Table 1). However, it should be noted that wheat import requirements in 2023 were higher than normal due in part to high expectations for wheat stocks build-up (estimated at 1.2 million MT), which likely did not materialize. Wheat imports are expected to remain low in 2024 amid continued political instability and conflict, shortages of foreign exchange reserves at the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS), and continued local currency depreciation, which are limiting the government and private sector’s ability to import. Informal imports of wheat flour are expected to continue arriving across the borders with Egypt and Ethiopia, but quantities are typically relatively low, and no comprehensive data is available on the imported volumes.

    Table 1
    Actual imported quantities of wheat grain compared to estimated import requirements (000, metric tons), 2015 to 2023 
    Year201520162017201820192020202120222023
    Estimated wheat import requirement186317762267213425442164209620503519
    Actual wheat imports1964195224672353269727702072 27021375
    Difference percentage5%10%9%10%6%28%-1%32%-60%

    Wheat data Source: Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS) and Plant Quarantine department – Plant protection General directorate and CFSAM reports

    Opening stocks: Last year’s production was above average, allowing for an anticipated relatively large buildup of sorghum and millet stocks. According to the 2022/23 FAO Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CFSAM), at the start of the consumption year, an estimated 1.1 million metric tons of sorghum and nearly 0.8 million metric tons of millet were estimated for private and government stock buildup. Given the passage of time plus the extent of looting of private stocks and increased sales by traders seeking to reduce risk, it is anticipated that available carryover stocks are considerably reduced.   

    Consumption needs: Estimated population-level consumption requirements were calculated based on the assumption of an average 2,100 kilocalorie per person per day diet, and the population estimate was reduced by 2 million to account for displacement across borders. According to a government-led food consumption study from 2020, 60 to 65 percent of daily kilocalories are obtained from cereals in the average Sudanese diet. Taking into consideration the impact of rising food costs on dietary choices, this proportion was increased to 70 percent for the purpose of this analysis. The resulting national-level kilocalorie annual need was then converted into metric tons. 

    Cereal availability gap: The estimated cereal availability gap represents the difference between net production1 plus expected imports and carryover stocks and estimated population consumption needs. Based on the assumptions described above, the anticipated cereal gap would be about 2 million metric tons, though as stated above, limitations on precise harvest data introduce a degree of uncertainty to this estimate. Compared to historic trends, the reduction in production and carryover stocks (net cereal production) is similar to 2017/18 and 2021/22, while expected imports will be significantly lower (Figure 4). If expected imports are removed in the above analysis, the gap widens to over 3.1 million MT, similar to the recently released CFSAM 2023/2024 report of 3.4 million MT estimated import requirements, though the methods for calculation differ slightly. 

    Figure 4

    Net availability compared to consumption needs, based on CFSAM 2014/15 – 2022/23 production estimates and FEWS NET projection for 2023/24
    Net availability compared to consumption needs, based on CFSAM 2014/15 – 2022/23 production estimates and FEWS NET projection for 2023/24

    Source: CFSAMs and FEWS NET scenario 2024

    The purpose of this trend analysis is to illustrate the potential scale of the gap, however it is important to note that it does not take into account informal cross-border flows, shifts in consumption patterns, or adjustments in other uses, such as increased seed consumption (with significant implications for the next agricultural season) and reduction in animal feed in order to increase available cereals for human consumption.  

    Trade flow and market functionality: The likely national cereal availability gap is expected to be greatly aggravated by the inability to efficiently distribute from surplus to deficit areas. Using the same approach as defined above, FEWS NET calculated a typical cereal availability gap at the state level, based on five-year average production estimates (CFSAM reports for 2018–2022) which highlights typical areas of deficit versus surplus in major cereal production (Figure 5). By comparison, many areas that are typically surplus will likely be in deficit across the center and west of the country this year, based on the recently released CFSAM estimates of state-level production for 2023/24 with the gap calculated using 2022 population adjusted for external displacement of nearly 2 million people (Figure 6). Meanwhile, analysis of trade route and market functionality remains largely unchanged from FEWS NET’s Alert released in February 2024 and reflects the large scale disruption of trade routes. The movement of food and goods around the country is still exceedingly difficult, contributing to declining availability of market supplies and high and rising prices of locally produced and imported essential commodities, particularly in markets of Greater Darfur and Greater Kordofan.  

    Figure 5

    Typical surplus/deficit areas of production based on CFSAM average five-year production data for sorghum, millet, and wheat by state and 2022 population estimates
    Map of Sudan showing typical cereal surplus/deficit by state based on the 5-year average

    Source: FEWS NET using CFSAM data (2017-2023) and land scan 2022

    Figure 6

    2023/24 estimated surplus/deficit areas of production relative to need based on CFSAM current estimates and 2022 population adjusted for external displacement of about 2 million people
    Map of Sudan showing 2023/24 estimated surplus/deficit production based on CFSAM 2023/24 data

    Source: FEWS NET using CFSAM data and land scan 2022 adjusted for 2 million external displacement

    Increasingly, alternate relatively long-distance unpaved routes are being used in lieu of main paved routes to avoid checkpoints and insecurity. Two such examples include one linking Al Daba in Northern state to Al Malha in North Darfur state and another linking Khartoum to central and eastern Sudan (via the Al Butana route). However, the costs of the longer travel time and high fuel prices are passed on via consumer prices. Compared to just prior to the start of the conflict (March 2023), fuel prices have increased on average by about 120 percent in the official commercial market to 180 percent on the parallel market and are currently ranging from about 1,130 to 3,575 SDG/liter officially. While prices have varied widely in the parallel market, spikes of up to 6,250 SDG/liter and 7,200 SDG/liter have been recorded in the heaviest hit and hardest to reach areas such as Omdurman and Geneina, respectively, at different points in the conflict (Figure 7).

    The extensive looting of shops and stores in most of the heavily conflict-affected cities, including El Geneina of West Darfur, Zalingei of Central Darfur, El Fasher of North Darfur, Nyala of South Darfur, El Obeid of North Kordofan, and Wad Madani of Al Jazirah, have significantly weakened traders’ and suppliers’ ability to provide services and continue trading activities. In El Fasher, supplies have been further affected by the RSF takeover of Um Keddada, which gives them control over nearly all entries to the town. Periodic clashes within El Fasher town also continue to limit market functionality. Most markets in Wad Madani of Al Jazirah and across Khartoum remain largely nonfunctional. 

    Figure 7

    Fuel prices in the official markets
    Fuel prices in the official markets

    Source: FEWS NET, data from FAMIS

    Macroeconomy: In January, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that Sudan’s economy contracted by 12 to 18 percent, respectively, in 2023, driven by severe reductions in economic activity, persistently low foreign currency reserves, rampant inflation rates, and continued local currency depreciation. This has been exacerbated by reduced domestic and foreign investment, declines in export revenue of key commodities including livestock, gum Arabic, and cash crops, and the limited capacity of the government to stimulate the economy amid persistent fighting. As of January 2024, the Sudanese pound (SDG) has continued to devalue relative to the United States Dollar (USD) at a faster pace than on the parallel market. Between January and February, the rate on the parallel market deteriorated from 1,100 SDG/USD to 1,200 SDG/USD and was 100 percent higher than in the rate in March 2023 (602 SDG/USD) (Figure 8). This deterioration in value has been partly driven by the continued increase in demand for hard currencies by the government and private companies to meet the increased import requirements for some essential items, including medicines, fuel, wheat, and some non-cereal food items. Consumer and private sector activity continues to decline across the country due to the breakdown of trade and export supply chains, damage and disruption to businesses in Khartoum and other industrial and trading centers, inability of the government or private sector to consistently pay employee salaries, and extent of lost assets, revenues, and income sources of households.

    Figure 8

    Official and parallel market exchange rates, January 2020 – February 2024
    Official and parallel market exchange rates, January 2020 – February 2024

    Source: FEWS NET, data from almashhadalsudani.com

    Staple food prices: Available price data in February revealed atypically rising trends for the main domestically produced cereals (sorghum and millet) to prices higher than in the peak of the last lean season, particularly in Darfur and Kordofan markets (Figure 9). This atypical increase in the post-harvest period is driven primarily by the impact of the conflict on market functionality and trade flows, deteriorating economic conditions, anticipated below to significantly below-average crop production from the recent agricultural season, and high production and transportation costs. Between January and February, sorghum prices soared in Kadugli (+25 percent), El Fasher (+37 percent), and Ad-Daen (+19 percent). Declines were noted in Sennar and Kassala between January and February, likely due to market flows from the recently concluded harvest and less-disrupted trade flows. In El Geneina, the average price increased in February compared to January after two consecutive months of declining prices, likely attributable to the return of relative calm, which facilitated some return to market functionality and increased flow of informal trade from Chad. On average, across all available markets, the price of sorghum in February was 73 percent higher than at the same time last year (February 2023) and 350 percent above the five-year average.

    Locally produced wheat prices in most available markets continued to increase by about 5 to 20 percent between January and February 2024, driven by seasonal reductions in supply and increases in demand. This trend has been exacerbated beyond seasonal norms by very low carryover stocks from last year and anticipation of a significantly below-average upcoming harvest in March/April 2024, combined with high prices of available imported wheat and wheat flour. Amid all these aggravating factors, the average wheat prices are about 125 percent higher than in February 2024 and 344 percent above the five-year average.

    Figure 9

    Retail sorghum prices (SDG/kg) from January 2022 to February 2024 (start of the conflict in April 2023 indicated by the dashed line and lean season period 2023 indicated with the pink bar)
    Retail sorghum prices (SDG/kg) from March 2023 to January 2024 (Darfur markets in shades of red, Kordofan markets in shades of green, southeast markets in shades of blue, northeast markets in shades of grey; lean season period 2023 indicated with the pink bar, and start of the conflict in April indicated with the dashed line)

    Source: FEWS NET, data from Food and Agricultural Market Information System (FAMIS)

    Livestock prices: Livestock markets and the flow of livestock from main production areas in western Sudan to main consumption markets in central and eastern Sudan continue to be similarly disrupted by the ongoing conflict and insecurity along most of the trade routes. Official exports of live animals from Port Sudan and across the northern border to Egypt are continuing, but quantities are expected to be at lower levels than normal given the insecurity along trade routes. Informal trading of livestock is also reportedly occurring across the Libyan border with North Darfur. 

    Between January and February, goat, sheep, and cattle prices either remained atypically stable or slightly increasing (<+10 percent) due to disrupted supply. Compared to the peak of the lean season (August/September), sheep and goat prices have increased most sharply (>60 percent) in Kassala, El Gedaref, Madani, El Fasher, and Nyala, driven by low supply and high transportation costs (Figure 10). In El Fasher, the low supply is exacerbated by road access constraints and increasing informal trade of livestock to Libya, while in Kassala, it is affected by continued exports, given the proximity of the market to the main port. 

    In comparison to the pre-conflict period of March 2023, goat and sheep prices in February 2024 increased on average by 45 percent, and cattle prices increased on average by 40 percent. Compared to last year, goat and sheep prices were on average 50 to 59 percent higher, and cattle prices were 44 percent higher. Compared to the five-year average, goat and sheep prices were 260 to 300 percent higher and 204 percent higher for cattle. The high increases compared to last year and the five-year average are mainly related to the high inflation and rapid local currency depreciation that has been exacerbated by the last eleven months of conflict.

    Figure 10

    Wholesale prices for export quality two-year-old sheep, January 2022 to February 2024
    Wholesale prices for export quality two-year-old sheep, January 2023 to January 2024

    Source: FEWS NET, data from FAMIS

    Terms of Trade: Labor-to-sorghum and goat-to-sorghum terms of trade serve as proxies for household purchasing power and indicate the quantity of sorghum that households can buy with either a day’s labor wage or the sale of a medium-sized goat. Overall, livestock and wage prices are increasing but, in most areas, have been unable to keep pace with the rising costs of staple foods, leading to persistently low or deteriorating terms of trade (Figure 11). 

    Labor-to-sorghum TOT: In El Gedaref, the labor-to-sorghum terms of trade have continued to deteriorate in February due to both the disruption to agricultural labor dynamics amid the heavy fighting in neighboring Al Jazirah in mid-December and rising sorghum prices (Figure 11). The terms of trade nonetheless remained 14 percent higher than February 2023 and 93 percent lower than February 2022, with the latter deterioration relative to two years ago driven by a 154 percent increase in sorghum prices compared to an only 33 percent increase in wage labor. The Kassala labor-to-sorghum terms of trade, on the other hand, have remained relatively stable in recent months and are 15 and 25 percent higher than last year’s and the five-year average. It should be noted, though, that availability of and access to agricultural and non-agricultural wage labor opportunities have been greatly reduced amid the expectations of significantly below-average harvests and the pervasive insecurity.

    Goat-to-sorghum TOT: The goat-to-sorghum terms of trade continued to deteriorate in El Obeid driven primarily by the rising sorghum prices and relative stability in livestock prices. Following a significant drop of 22 percent between December 2023 and January 2024, the goat-to-sorghum terms of trade in El Obeid market has further declined by 4 percent between January and February 2024 (Figure 11). The February goat-to-sorghum terms of trade in El Obeid remained 50 percent lower than the same time last year due to 128 percent increase in sorghum price compared to only a 14 percent increase in goat prices. In El Fasher, the goat-to-sorghum terms of trade have been slightly recovering for livestock owners but remain very low after years of decline. In February, the terms of trade in El Fasher were 14 percent higher than the same time last year, driven by a 132 percent increase in goat prices compared to a 100 percent increase in sorghum prices.  

    Figure 11

    Labor-to-sorghum TOT in Gadarif and Kassala (shades of blue), and goat-to-sorghum TOT in El Obeid market and El Fasher (shades of red), January 2022 – February 2024
    Labor-to-sorghum TOT in Gadarif and Kassala (shades of blue), and goat-to-sorghum TOT in El Obeid market and El Fasher (shades of red), January 2022 – February 2024

    Source: FEWS NET, data from FAMIS

    Disease outbreaks and malnutrition: Water and sanitation conditions in heavily impacted urban areas and in places with large congregations of displaced persons continue to deteriorate. Cholera outbreaks surged during the rainy season, spreading to 46 localities in nine states by the end of the year and contributing to sharply rising rates of acute malnutrition, particularly among the displaced. Based on available data for 2023, the number of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) admissions surged during the rainy season between June and September 2023, with some of the highest reported admission rates recorded in El Fasher of North Darfur. The area is hosting high numbers of protracted and newly displaced persons and has experienced repeated clashes and high tensions that disrupted access to livelihoods and assistance. Other areas that saw large spikes in admissions include Al Salam locality of White Nile, Madni Alkobra of Al Jazirah, El Geneina of West Darfur, Aldamazain of Blue Nile, and Al Faw and Gala Anahal of El Gedaref, all areas with large displaced populations. Between October and December, SAM admissions declined with the end of the rainy season and ongoing harvest in many areas, although they nonetheless remained above pre-conflict levels across most areas. Areas showing a worrying rising trend since the end of the rainy season through December include Basunda and Al Fashaga in Gedaref, Port Sudan, Agig, and Toker of the Red Sea, South Al Jazirah and Al Managel of Jazirah state, Al Gerba and Rural Kassala of Kassala state, Sennar and Al Dali in Sennar state, most of White Nile, and Karari in Khartoum state due to the burden of IDPs and cholera outbreaks announced in places with high IDPs concentration. Indeed, in February, suspected cholera cases continued to increase, with over 10,700 suspected cases as of February 17, 2024. 

    Humanitarian Food Assistance: Assistance remains exceedingly challenging, with access to hard-to-reach areas crucially hampered by insecurity, logistical and bureaucratic challenges, and interference by armed groups. According to OCHA’s February 23 situation report, assistance has yet to resume in Al Jazirah state, and all crossline movements have remained suspended since the attacks on Wad Madani in mid-December 2023. Cross-border access from Chad had reportedly increased over the months, with the logistics cluster notes indicating eight cross-border movements taking cumulatively 2,212 to 2,748 metric tons of mixed assistance into parts of Greater Darfur in November and December, respectively. In January, an additional 2,069 metric tons were planned, though it is unclear if these convoys occurred. However, in late February, the Sudanese government temporarily banned all assistance flows across the Chad border, which had significant consequences for the Greater Darfur region. Following intense pressure from within Sudan and from the international community, the Sudanese government agreed in early March to reopen one border crossing in Chad and open borders with Egypt and South Sudan to humanitarian assistance. While assistance to Greater Darfur has reportedly resumed through Al Tina border crossing in North Darfur, the distances from Al Tina to areas of greatest need in Darfur region are very long and roads are poorly maintained and lack refueling options, thus presenting significant logistical challenges on top of security and funding challenges. In the eastern states, assistance targeting displaced persons, some among the host population, and refugees has been reportedly sustained. While comprehensive data on the numbers reached and ration sizes are unavailable, it is anticipated that assistance is shared among households and, therefore, unlikely to reach thresholds for kilocalorie consumption given the scale of need.


    Seasonal Calendar for a typical year
    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET


    Current Food Security Outcomes

    In February 2024, the post-harvest season, food insecurity outcomes are atypically rising, driven by the negative impact of nearly one year of direct fighting that has seriously disrupted harvesting of the main agricultural season across the country and particularly in the breadbasket of the country following RSF attacks on the main producing centers in southeast during the peak harvesting season. This is resulting in below-average harvests, with some significantly below-average harvests in areas affected by heavy fighting and displacement. In addition, the expansion of fighting to most urban centers across the country has further contributed to massive destruction of major infrastructure and disruption of basic services, trade routes, and markets, as well as access to main livelihood options for most affected people. Unabated looting of public and private properties has caused widespread impoverishment of populations in RSF-attacked areas. Many poor households in the affected areas are facing significantly reduced access to income from typical livelihood activities as a result of insecurity and economic decline. Staple food prices are atypically high during the post-harvest period, driven by below-normal harvest and increased disruption to markets and trade flows, high production transportation costs, and persistently high inflation and local currency depreciation. As a result, most of the country will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through February 2024. Heavily affected urban localities and areas with a high burden of displacement remain in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in February, including Omdurman, Khartoum, Bahari, and Jebel Awlia localities of Khartoum state; Wad Madani of Al Jazirah; El Geneina, Nyala, Zalingei, and El Fasher of Greater Darfur; El Obeid, Um Rawaba, and Al Rahad of North Kordofan; Dilling, Habila, Ar Reif Ash Shargi, Kadugli, and Al Buram of South Kordofan; and Babanousa and Al Khiwai of West Kordofan, as well as parts White Nile, Kassala, Red Sea, and Gedaref.   


    Assumptions

    The most-likely scenario for February to September 2024 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • Conflict and displacement: Conflict between the RSF and SAF is expected to continue through the near-term, though with declining intensity between the major parties in the longer term (through September 2024). Intercommunal conflict in Greater Darfur and Greater Kordofan, on the other hand, is expected to increase through the projection period. It is likely that the RSF will continue to establish governance structures in areas under their control, leading to a gradual de facto partition of the country. 
      • Khartoum: The battle for control of Khartoum is expected to continue at minimum through the coming months. Each side will continue to target the other’s supply lines, with RSF likely to continue to use siege tactics and to blockade bases deemed vital to SAF logistical and supply lines into the city, thus continuing to intermittently affect access and movement in and out of surrounding civilian neighborhoods.   
      • Southeast: Fighting in Al Jazirah is expected to continue, with RSF likely to remain in control of Wad Madani in the near-term. There is a moderate likelihood that SAF will launch a counteroffensive in the coming months aimed at regaining control of Wad Madani and the state, with conflict likely to be sustained through the projection period. Fighting is also expected to continue in Sennar, while there is a low likelihood in the projection period that fighting will move into Gedaref and Kassala.
      • Greater Darfur: El Fasher remains the last major output in Greater Darfur not captured by the RSF. While the mobilization of a number of other armed groups in El Fasher is likely to delay RSF advances on the town, the escalation of tensions is nonetheless expected to severely limit access and movement around the area. It is moderately likely that RSF will move on El Fasher in the near-term. In other parts of the region, SAF-RSF battles are expected to largely abate through the projection period. However, intercommunal violence is expected to increase, driven by deliberate targeting of non-Arab communities and exacerbated by RSF’s inability to control violence between communities over land and resource disputes.  
      • Greater Kordofan: RSF is likely to continue to push for consolidation of this region, with increased fighting expected in El Obeid in the spring of 2024. As the RSF pushes further into West and North Kordofan and increasingly threatens parts of South Kordofan, it is moderately likely that the conflict between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement–North (SPLM-N) and SAF will remain subdued as both sides move forces to contain an RSF push. Conversely, clashes pitting the SPLM-N against the RSF are expected to increase in West and South Kordofan, especially around Dilling, further stoking intercommunal violence. 
    • Macroeconomic: The ongoing contraction in the economy is expected to continue in the near-term but likely at a more modest rate with the slowdown in the conflict toward the end of the projection period. The currency is expected to depreciate further, to between 1,100 to 1,330 SDG/USD through September 2024, a decrease of 43 percent compared to March 2023 (pre-conflict). This will contribute to driving up prices of imported and locally produced goods. 
    •  Crop production: The 2023/24 season’s harvest is expected to be below average nationally. 
      • Main season harvest (November–January 2024): The main season cereal harvests across Greater Darfur and Greater Kordofan are expected to be significantly below average in areas proximate to urban localities that experienced heavy fighting at various times throughout the agricultural season. Below-average harvests are expected across most rural areas of Greater Darfur and Greater Kordofan, with pockets of average harvest in areas that were largely unaffected by direct clashes, such as in parts of East Darfur. In the southeast, harvests are expected to be below average. 
      • Wheat harvest (March-April 2024): This year’s wheat production is expected to be significantly below average due to disruptions in planting, particularly in the Al Gazira scheme, which typically accounts for around 40 percent of the wheat areas in the country. Shortage and high cost of agricultural inputs and limited access to agricultural finance are likely to further negatively impact wheat cultivation in most of the other wheat cultivation areas across the country.
    • Wheat imports: While import requirements in 2024 are expected to be higher than normal, Sudan’s ability to import will remain constrained through 2024, given the continued conflict and economic crisis in the country.
    • Trade flow and market functionality: Overall, trade flows and market functionality are expected to remain highly disrupted across the country through the projection period. Flows from east to west and within Greater Kordofan and Greater Darfur will remain severely limited. Anticipated continuation of fighting in the near-term into the southeast will further disrupt flows within the eastern half of the country. The main routes linking Khartoum to most of the rest of the country will remain disrupted through the projection period, with periodic interruptions expected along the only functional Dongola-Omdurman route. Cross-border flows of some food items from Chad, Libya, Ethiopia, and Egypt are expected but in relatively low quantities.
    • Food stocks: Cereal stocks are expected to be below average in all markets and significantly below average in major urban areas that have experienced heavy fighting and looting. The increased risk of looting in some of the main producing centers is likely to cause traders and big farmers to sell earlier than anticipated and shift stocks to more secure areas, which is likely to contribute to additional post-harvest losses. While some looted stocks may appear in markets, the lack of proper storing capacity is likely to lead to increased post-harvest losses. As the lean season approaches toward the end of the projection period, market and trader stocks are expected to be below average and significantly below average in the most severely affected markets, particularly in Greater Darfur and Greater Kordofan. Cross-border flows in areas close to the borders may help to mitigate the local supply gaps.     
    • Staple food prices: Food prices are expected to remain significantly above average through the entire projection period. Prices are likely to remain atypically high in the post-harvest period, February 2024, and reach their highest levels during the peak lean season during August and September 2024; staple grain prices are expected to remain 55 to 110 percent above last year’s prices and 250 to 450 percent above the five-year average.
    • Livestock pricesLivestock prices will continue to vary significantly across different markets during the post-harvest period, driven by the impact of the ongoing conflict on the market’s functionality and animal supply chain. Livestock prices are expected to remain relatively stable in the less conflict-affected markets, with a slight increase in the main consumption markets in the near-term. Going into the lean season, prices are expected to decrease in most of the supply markets as households sell additional livestock for income to purchase food at anticipated significantly above-average food prices. The continued market disruptions resulting from the conflict and insecurity along primary and secondary routes around the country and around the main area of livestock supply are expected to persist through the scenario period, driving market and livestock supply chain disruptions and reduced exports. 
    • Livestock migration: Seasonal livestock migration between the northern wet season and southern dry season grazing areas is likely to continue to be disrupted by the expansion of conflict, increased intercommunal clashes, and widespread insecurity across most of the major animal migratory routes. Unseasonal livestock concentrations will likely continue in Al Butana grazing areas in Gedaref and Kassala states, Al Baja grazing areas in White Nile state, and some relatively secure areas in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states, particularly as some of these areas benefited from above-average El Niño-enhanced rainfall from October to December 2023. During the start of the upcoming rainy season, Arab herders from parts of Greater Darfur and Greater Kordofan are likely to extend their stay in parts of South Sudan, Central African Republic (CAR), and Chad more than usual due to the continued insecurity in Sudan.
    • Income sources: In relatively safer rural areas, poor and very poor households are likely to increase dependency on the collection and sale of firewood, charcoal, and timber, as well as on migration in search of non-agricultural unskilled labor opportunities, such as informal labor in artisanal mining sites and in safer towns, particularly between March and May 2024. People will likely increase their dependency on agricultural labor mainly during the June to September 2024 cultivation season, although opportunities are expected to be below normal. According to FEWS NET’s technical projection, labor wages are likely to remain 15 to 30 percent higher than last year, driven by high inflation, but with expected rising food prices, terms of trade are likely to deteriorate. In more conflict-affected areas, access to forest products in the near-term and agricultural labor in the lean season is anticipated to continue to be limited by insecurity and displacement and will remain significantly below average throughout the projection period. Households are expected to heavily depend on family and community support and engage in more extreme livelihood coping strategies, including consumption of seeds, liquidation of assets (including livestock and productive assets), begging, and risky migration in search of food and income sources, including artisanal mining. 
    • Rainfall: Based on ensemble forecast models and high probability (70 percent) of La Niña being the dominant El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) state in the summer of 2024, the start of the June to September rainy season in Sudan is likely to be above average.   
    • 2024/2025 agricultural season: Planting during the next agricultural season is expected to be below average due to continuing conflict, the scale of displacement, and anticipated lack of access to financing and inputs. In addition, the pattern of declining investment among large commercial farmers is likely to continue given the high risks to production and sale, exacerbating the reduction in cultivation.
    • Humanitarian food assistance: According to the latest update to WFP’s Country Strategic Plan in December 2023, the agency is planning to reach 7.6 million unique beneficiaries, 4.6 million of whom are targeted under general food assistance. Given severe funding and access challenges, the agency will prioritize Emergency (IPC Phase 4) populations, IDPs (both protracted and newly displaced), and refugees, mainly through in-kind food transfers. Cash-based transfers (CBTs) will be gradually scaled up in the more accessible eastern states and in parts of Darfur and Khartoum, where feasible. For those receiving in-kind assistance, WFP plans to provide half rations to IDPs and resident populations and full rations to refugees. However, provision of food assistance will continue to face considerable challenges, particularly in hard-to-reach areas due to restrictions on cross-line and cross-border movements, lack of adequate cooperation among armed parties to the conflict, bureaucratic and logistical constraints, politicization of assistance and risks of diversion, precarious security conditions, significant looting, loss of humanitarian assets, and destruction of facilities. Assistance will most likely be sustained in parts of government-controlled eastern Sudan, while remaining irregular and delayed to areas in Greater Darfur and Greater Kordofan as well as in Khartoum. 

    Most Likely Acute Food Security Outcomes

    February to May is typically the post-harvest period, but this year an atypically early start to the lean season is expected by March 2024. Food insecurity outcomes are anticipated to continue atypically deteriorating in most areas, driven by conflict-related reductions in food availability, disruptions to trade flows and markets, above-normal prices, and decreasing income-earning opportunities, as well as expected increases in displacement and re-displacement in many areas. The situation will be further exacerbated by the massive destruction of major infrastructure, disruption of basic services, extensive looting of public and private properties, and widespread impoverishment of populations. In the most heavily conflict-affected urban and semi-urban areas, many poor households will continue to face significantly reduced access to typical food and income sources due to limited access to own-food production, deteriorating purchasing power, and restricted population mobility. Households are also expected to increasingly engage in risky migration, including to artisanal mining sites, to safer urban areas or across borders. As a result, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to be widespread across most of the country, with Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes persisting through May in the most heavily conflict-affected urban and semi-urban areas in Khartoum, Greater Darfur, Greater Kordofan, parts of Al Jazirah, Abyei PCA, and parts of White Nile states and areas hosting high numbers of displaced persons in Red Sea, White Nile, Blue Nile, and Gedaref due to reduced access to income-earning opportunities by both IDPs and the host community, high food prices, and inconsistent or limited access to humanitarian assistance.

    From June to September 2024, the typical lean season in Sudan, food insecurity outcomes are expected to further deteriorate as own stocks completely deplete, income opportunities decrease even more than seasonally normal, market stocks reach seasonal lows earlier than usual (between June and July instead of August and September), and food prices rise even higher. Access to income-earning opportunities will continue to be limited by conflict and reduced mobility, further reducing household purchasing power, thereby decreasing financial access to food. Poor and conflict-affected households will rely even more heavily on family and community support, a resource expected to be already stretched thin given the scale of needs. Reliance on extreme coping strategies, including consumption of seeds, liquidation of assets, and begging, is also expected to increase. Overall, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to expand considerably to include the most heavily conflict-affected urban and semi-urban areas in Khartoum, Greater Darfur, Greater Kordofan, and parts of Al Jazirah and White Nile, as well as areas hosting IDPs in parts of Red Sea Kassala, Gadaref, White Nile, Abyei PCA, and Blue Nile. Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes are expected in the seriously affected areas in parts of West Darfur and Omdurman in Khartoum and among the displaced in areas facing increased restricted population movements and limited access by humanitarian actors.


    Events that Might Change the Outlook
    Table 2
    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario
    AreaEventImpact on food security outcomes
    NationalThe conflicting parties reach an agreement on and commit to abide by a ceasefire with support from international actors, agreeing to an extended timeline for a return to civilian rule.This will likely bring the fighting to a stop, reduce political tensions, restore security in the conflict areas, and allow displaced people to return to their homes. In the medium term, this will allow the Sudanese economy to reintegrate with the global market, likely gradually improving macroeconomic conditions, albeit slowly. While intercommunal conflict will likely continue, a broader return to peace will still improve household access to income as most households return to their typical livelihoods, improving household purchasing power relative to the conflict period. Conflict-affected areas will likely improve to area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.
    The fighting between SAF and RSF extends to most parts of the country, including the temporary capital, Port Sudan, with extensive and significant escalation in tribal and ethnic tensions and the involvement of other national and international parties through the end of the projection period. This will likely result in increased looting of public and private property, as well as of food stocks, further widening the cereal gap. It will also fuel increasing displacement, with more people seeking refuge in neighboring countries and major disruption to the government and the international community in the management of the situation and provision of support to affected people. Additionally, sustained heavy fighting and an escalation in tribal and ethnic tensions will likely result in the further destruction of infrastructure and basic services, the complete collapse of the economy, and central government control over the country. This will also further limit affected people's ability to adequately access essential food and basic services and will likely widen the food gap among affected people, increasing the number of households facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. 
    The RSF advance into parts of the southeast is accompanied by extensive destruction of main irrigation infrastructure and looting, specifically of large volumes of food stocks and strategic reserves stored predominantly in Gedaref state. Stolen food stocks reappear on markets at low prices and are taken across borders for sale and additional enrichment of those who stole it. At the same time, traders continue to dispose of stocks at very low prices to avoid further risk. While the arrival of stolen food stocks on markets may cause a glut in supply and contribute to a temporary reduction in prices in some markets, ultimately, the movement of food stocks out of high-quality storage facilities and into personal stocks will contribute to greater post-harvest losses and contribute to more rapid depletion of available trader and market stocks during the lean season, particularly in deficit areas. This will increase the cereal availability gap and reduce household access to food, particularly during the lean season, leading to an increase in the proportion of the population in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) across more areas. In areas of greatest concern (parts of Khartoum and El Geneina), a greater share of households will likely face Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5), with more and more households migrating across borders or internally to rely on external or community support. 
    Parts of West Darfur, Khartoum, and among the displaced population in Greater DarfurActions taken by armed parties—either through deliberate isolation of households or through escalation of intense conflict—prevent households from migrating to safer areas in search of food and income for a sustained period of time.If households are prevented from moving in search of available food or income, including across borders or to safer rural agricultural producing areas, towns, cities, or mining areas; and the intensity of conflict prevents food from entering an area, then Famine (IPC Phase 5) would be likely in the affected areas

    Areas of Concern: Geneina and surrounding localities, West Darfur state (Figure 12)

    Figure 12

    Area of Concern: El Geneina and surrounding localities in West Darfur
    Area of Concern: El Geneina and surrounding localities in West Darfur

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current Situation

    El Geneina and surrounding areas of West Darfur state straddle two zones, the Western Agropastoral Millet (SD 13) and Rainfed Sorghum Belt (SD 11). In the Western Agropastoral Millet zone, only drought-resistant millet is reliably produced. Households also grow watermelon, hibiscus, and okra in low-lying areas. Given limited agricultural productivity, livestock sales account for most of the better-off and middle groups’ cash income, while poor household income mainly comes from labor, self-employment, and petty trade. 

    Conflict and displacement: Historically, West Darfur has faced frequent communal and ethnic conflict rooted in tensions over scarce natural resources that led to extensive, protracted internal displacement, systemic-level destruction of livelihood systems, and widespread asset-stripping. According to IOM DTM data collected just prior to the start of this war in March 2023, a total of 479,135 people were estimated to be facing protracted displacement in West Darfur, 41 percent of whom were living in camps in the El Geneina locality. While most of the protracted displacement occurred between 2003 and 2010, the situation significantly deteriorated in 2021 and 2022 amid renewed violent clashes. 

    Since the start of the current conflict in April 2023, West Darfur state in general and El Geneina locality in particular have been among the worst-affected areas in Sudan, with the largest atrocities occurring in April and May, June, and again in November 2023. Many of the attacks focused on protracted IDP camps in El Geneina, including Ardamata and Dorti, as well as in the Al-Kabri neighborhood that houses a majority Masalit population. However, at least seven other towns in West Darfur state have been attacked and burned, some almost completely, since the start of the conflict. The violence in 2023 and into 2024 has resulted in large-scale additional displacement, with nearly 560,000 fleeing across the border to Chad, many anticipated to have originated from West Darfur and likely to have been among the protracted displacements. Indeed, according to a consolidation exercise conducted by IOM DTM, the number of internally displaced overall in West Darfur has declined from the pre-current war figures (479,135) to an anticipated 261,791 IDPs now, reportedly attributed to the large flows to Chad. Households that did not flee to Chad have largely gone to rural parts of El Geneina locality (28,420) or other parts of West Darfur, including Jebel Moon (37,090), Kulbus (29,560), and Sirba (26,100) localities, with El Geneina town mostly de-populated. Since the attacks in November in El Geneina, the situation across the state has been relatively calm, albeit tense and volatile.

    Crop production: Given the timeline of attacks in El Geneina, which interfered with field preparation, cultivation, and harvesting, it is anticipated that crop production in the locality was significantly below average, and many households were completely unable to cultivate. The displaced are likely highly reliant on relatives and communities that did manage to cultivate in surrounding localities, which is likely to strain how long these harvests can last. 

    Access to income sources: Collection and sale of firewood, charcoal, and grass is typically an important source of income for very poor and poor households in February. Tending of livestock for wealthier households and engagement in petty trade are also typically important sources. While direct clashes have decreased since November and households have likely expanded reliance on these sources as main coping mechanisms to enable them to purchase food, access to these income opportunities is nonetheless expected to be below average given ongoing insecurity. Households are expected to have significantly increased dependence on remittances and community support (sharing resources among multiple households), although remittances are also likely constrained, given the disruptions to telecommunication networks. 

    Trade flows and market functionality: The persistently poor security situation continues to limit market trade flows into and within Greater Darfur, with the El Geneina market reportedly among the most severely impacted markets in terms of functionality, given the intensity of conflict there. The main market in El Geneina has been completely looted, and shops and stores have been mostly destroyed. People continue to depend on some alternative small temporary markets near their neighborhoods, but supplies to the markets remain low. Informal cross-border trade from Chad is reportedly ongoing, but it is difficult to determine the volumes. According to FEWS NET observations and key informant interviews in early February at the Adre border point, up to 300 carts were moving across the border daily into West Darfur, carrying Chadian and Libyan goods even into the interior of Darfur. The traders tend to have close ties with RSF and thus can mitigate the insecurity and cost of such movements. 

    Staple food prices: Overall, staple food prices in El Geneina remain atypically high even during the post-harvest period, driven by supply shortages and high transportation costs. In February, the average millet price declined by 17 percent from peaks in August and September but remained 79 percent above the same time last year (February 2023). Sorghum, which typically comes from other areas, was 27 percent higher than the peak lean season prices in August and September and 188 percent above the same time last year (Figure 13). High staple food prices, coupled with reduced access to income due to persisting insecurity, have significantly reduced households’ purchasing ability. 

    Figure 13

    Nominal retail sorghum and millet prices in Geneina
    Nominal retail sorghum and millet prices in Geneina

    Source: FEWS NET using FAMIS data

    Livestock prices: Goat prices in Geneina market showed a decreasing trend from April 2023 through November 2023 as continued disruption to the markets and trade flows due to insecurity conditions forced households to sell more of their herds to secure cash for food purchases amid increasing food prices. Goat prices slightly increased by December 2023, with the relative stability of the situation and slight decrease in staple food prices. In January 2024, goat prices were 21 percent lower than in April 2023 but 36 percent higher than in January 2023 and 136 percent above the five-year average. High livestock prices are, to a greater extent, driven by high inflation and local currency devaluation. 

    Terms of trade: Goat-to-sorghum terms of trade continued to decrease since April 2023, driven by the disruption to markets and drop in animal prices. In January 2024, the goat-to-sorghum terms of trade slightly increased between December 2023 and January 2024 with a relative increase in goat prices but remained 38 percent lower than in April 2023. In February 2024, the sorghum-to-goat terms of trade were 67 percent below those of February 2023 and 68 percent lower than the five-year average (Figure 14).

    Humanitarian assistance: Flows of assistance across the borders from Chad into West Darfur improved in November and December, with assistance targeting households in El Geneina and Kereneik. Between April and December, WFP provided emergency food and nutritional supplies to 360,000 IDPs and residents in West Darfur through cross-border access. It is anticipated that this assistance was likely shared among an even larger population. In February, the SAF-imposed restrictions on cross-border flows, limiting entry only at the Al Tine border crossing in North Darfur. This has had severe implications for assistance reaching parts of West Darfur.    

    Figure 14

    El Geneina Market: goat-to-sorghum terms of trade
    El Geneina Market: goat-to-sorghum terms of trade

    Source: FEWS NET using FAMIS data

    Assumptions

    In addition to the national-level assumptions, the following assumptions apply to these areas of concern:

    • Conflict and displacement: Pitched battles between the RSF and SAF are expected to largely abate across most parts of Darfur, with levels of force-on-force violence decreasing in much of Greater Darfur through September 2024. However, an increase in intercommunal violence is likely in response to the targeting by RSF and aligned militias of non-Arab communities and communities perceived as having supported the SAF. This is likely to be exacerbated by the RSF’s inability to control violence between communities over land disputes, as well as by the recent alignment with the SAF of previously neutral non-Arab militias in a bid to defend El Fasher. This is likely to continue to displace populations. 

    Figure 15

    Estimated kilocalorie deficit (in red) expressed where 100 percent is equal to 2100 kilocalories, according to HEA outcome analysis of very poor households in the Rainfed Sorghum Belt (SD11), October 2023-September 2024
    Estimated kilocalorie deficit (in red) expressed where 100 percent is equal to 2100 kilocalories, according to HEA outcome analysis of very poor households in the Rainfed Sorghum Belt (SD11), October 2023-September 2024

    Source: FEWS NET

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Between February and May 2024, food insecurity outcomes are anticipated to continue atypically deteriorating, driven by conflict-related factors, including displacement, loss of lives and livelihood assets, decreased income-earning opportunities, and restricted population mobility. Households will face increasing difficulty accessing food from markets, given disruptions to trade flows, high food prices, and deteriorating purchasing power. The destruction of basic services and reduced access for humanitarians will further exacerbate the situation. As a result, most of the conflict-affected poor households in the area of concern will continue facing significantly reduced access to food and income from typical food sources and livelihood activities. Accordingly, widespread Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes will likely persist through May 2024.

    From June to September 2024, the typical peak lean season, food insecurity outcomes are expected to deteriorate further as available food stocks widely deplete, market supplies remain disrupted by conflict and poor road conditions during the rainy season, and staple food prices rise steeply. Access to income-earning opportunities will continue to be significantly limited by conflict and reduced population mobility, which will further reduce households’ purchasing power. According to a Household Economy Analysis (HEA) carried out by FEWS NET in February 2024, which uses information on crop production, prices, and evidence-based assumptions around engagement in livelihood activities to understand households’ access to food and income relative to typical requirements, very poor households in El Geneina locality will face survival deficits indicative of Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) throughout the projection period (Figure 15). However, very high reliance on family and community support and informal cross-border trade from Chad are anticipated to mitigate Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) in the near-term (through May 2024) among the very poor households. Between June and September, the community level of support is expected to be severely strained, contributing to the expected emergence of Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) among the very poor in the seriously affected areas across the area of concern.


    Most likely food security outcomes and areas receiving significant levels of humanitarian assistance

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Sudan Food Security Outlook February - September 2024: Sudan’s worsening food security emergency leads to a risk of Famine in some areas, 2024.

    1

    Net production = anticipated gross production minus typical losses to animal feed, seed use, and post-harvest losses

    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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