Large populations require assistance amid very high staple food prices and COVID-19 restrictions
IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
COVID-19 outbreak and control measures
Sudan continues to face a growing COVID-19 outbreak. As of early July, over 10,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Sudan, including 636 deaths, according to the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH). Confirmed cases have been reported in all 18 states of Sudan, with about 75 percent of the cases registered in Khartoum. Increasing numbers of suspected COVID-19 cases are reported to be in quarantine in Sudan’s isolation centers.
Measures intended to control COVID-19 remain in place in Sudan as of late June 2020. These include the closure of airports, seaports, and land crossings. Specific measures vary from state to state, with most implementing curfews, lockdowns, and work-from-home policies.
Compliance with COVID-19 control measures and health recommendations is reported to be weak in Sudan. Although some mask-wearing is observed, it is not universal and respect for social distancing is very low in urban and rural areas. Meanwhile, government enforcement of control measures and response to non-compliance is not as strong as at the beginning of the outbreak. Moreover, in early July, the government decided to ease COVID-19 measures that were imposed in late March 2020. Mosques have been reopened and the curfew in Khartoum state will be limited to the hours between 18:00 and 05:00.
Sudan continues to face a macroeconomic crisis, exacerbated by reduced economic activity due to COVID-19. Sudan continues to face severely limited reserves of foreign currency in the official banking system. In recent years, Sudan’s ability to access sufficient foreign exchange has been limited due to structural economic factors. In addition, the Federal Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning reports that Sudan has lost more than 200 billion SDG in revenue due to restrictions on economic activity related to COVID-19. This, coupled with an increasing reliance on imports for essential food and non-food items (agricultural inputs, health and medical equipment, etc.), are placing additional pressure on Sudan’s already limited capacity to meet foreign exchange needs.
The Sudanese Pound has continued to depreciate on the parallel market and the inflation rate continues to rise. As of June 2020, the parallel market exchange rate reached 145 SDG/USD compared to 130 SDG/USD in March, while the official exchange rate remained 55 SDG/USD during March and April compared to 52 SDG/USD during February 2020. Meanwhile, the annual inflation rate increased from approximately 99 percent in April 2020 to more than 114 percent in May 2020. This has occurred alongside measures taken by the Ministry of Finance to increase civil servants’ salaries on average by about six-fold (from a minimum of 425 SDG to 3,000 SDG) between April and May to help them cope with rising prices. Despite recent pledges by the humanitarian community to provide 1.8 billion USD to Sudan in support of economic reforms, assistance to the Sudanese economy has not yet materialized as of June 2020.
2020/21 seasonal progress
The June to September 2020 rainy season has begun on time in most parts of Sudan. As of early July, total seasonal rainfall has reached between 100 and 200 mm in southern areas of Sudan, and between 50 and 100 mm in areas further north. According to CHIRPS, rainfall performance has been mixed to date, and the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) suggests normal to above normal vegetation conditions in eastern Sudan, with areas of below-average vegetation in South Kordofan, South Darfur, Central Darfur, and West Darfur. However, the heaviest rainfall typically occurs between July and September, during which time crop water needs are greatest.
Land preparation has continued in recent weeks in agricultural and agropastoral areas of Sudan, while planting of cereals is underway in some areas. Land preparation has continued across most parts of Sudan during late June, although field reports indicate that restrictions on population movements in response to COVID-19, continued fuel shortages, and high costs of transportation have constrained land preparation activities. According to state level monitoring information, rainfall is sufficient for planting of cereal crops, which was underway in late June in parts of the semi-mechanized sector in southern Al Gadarif, Blue Nile, and Sennar states, as well as in parts of the traditional sector in South Kordofan, West Kordofan, and South Darfur. Meanwhile, dry sowing of millet has been reported in some areas of the Darfur and Kordofan states. Planting of cereal crops has not yet started in most of the irrigated and traditional sectors.
Meanwhile, planting of cash crops such as groundnuts and cotton is underway in the irrigated sector, having reached an estimated 50-60 percent of the area targeted for planting by the end of June. Planting of sesame and groundnuts continued in the rain-fed sector and as of late June, 10-20 percent of the targeted area has been planted in North Kordofan, West Kordofan, and East Darfur states. Crops are mostly at the early germination stage. Meanwhile, provision of inputs to farmers in parts of the semi-mechanized and irrigated sectors is still ongoing. Approximately 60-80 percent of the fuel allocated by the government to support agricultural activities has been delivered to targeted states, though delays are being reported in the arrival of seeds allocated by the government.
The potential expansion of desert locust infestations remains a concern as scattered bands of locusts are being reported in Sudan. According to the June 2020 Desert Locust Bulletin, scattered mature adults were present in the Nile Valley from Shendi to North Dongola, the Baiyuda desert to northern Khartoum, in the east between Kassala and Sinkat, and in the South between Kosti and South Sudan borders. The presence of desert locusts during this period is a potential threat to crops in these areas.
Rainfall in June has facilitated favorable pasture regeneration across most pastoral and agropastoral grazing areas in Sudan.The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) suggests vegetation conditions are above the median in most areas of North Darfur, Red Sea, and Kassala states, with areas of above and below median vegetation in North Kordofan (Figure 1). The USGS water point viewer indicates good water conditions across most monitoring points. As of late June, nomads have continued seasonal migration with their animals from the summer season grazing areas in southern Sudan, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic (CAR) towards the wet season grazing areas further north in Sudan. Field reports indicate that some pastoralists have already crossed the borders on their way to the north, and some nomads have raised concerns about expansions in agricultural areas and the closure of animal migratory routes. Generally, improved pasture and water availability have improved animal body conditions in the main pastoral and agropastoral areas.
Prices and terms-of-trade
Retail prices of sorghum and millet continued to increase between May and June 2020 across most markets in Sudan and remained 150 to 250 percent higher than in June 2019. In Al Qadarif (the most important production market in Sudan), sorghum sold for approximately 67 SDG/kg in June 2020, compared to 14 SDG/kg in June 2019. Across Sudan, sorghum and millet prices are five to six times the recent five-year average for June. Very high sorghum and millet prices are being driven by the continued macroeconomic crisis, associated high production and transportation costs, as well as reduced market supplies resulting from last year’s below-average production. Informal cross-border flows of sorghum to Eritria and South Sudan continued between March and June 2020, despite the COVID-19-related border closure. However, March-June 2020 informal cross-border exports of sorghum were estimated at approximately 2,700 MT, compared to 7,000 MT for the same period in 2019.
Although wheat prices have been generally stable or increased slightly over the past 1-2 months, retail wheat prices remain much higher than last year and the five-year average. In Khartoum, the largest wheat consumption market in Sudan, June 2020 retail wheat prices (60 SDG/kg) were more than twice those reported in June 2019 (28 SDG/kg), and nearly four times the recent five-year average (13 SDG/kg). High wheat prices are mainly attributed to high production and transportation costs and shortages of wheat imports.
Wholesale prices of key cash crops continued to increase between May and June 2020 across most markets in Sudan and remained 150 to 250 percent higher than in June 2019. In Al Gadarif market, one guntar (approximately 54 kg) of sesame sold at 3600 SDG in June 2020, which is almost 60 percent higher than in June 2019 and 260 percent above average. In El Obied, the main groundnut production market, the price of groundnut was recorded at 2,920 SDG/guntar compared to 1,150 SDG/guntar in June 2019. High prices of groundnut and sesame this year is mainly attributed to the high demand for cooking oil for local consumption as well as for export.
Livestock prices have continued to increase in recent months, but have increased less than cereal prices when compared to last year and historical averages. Livestock prices increased by 10-20 percent across most markets between May and June as exports to Saudi Arabia resumed and as already high transportation costs have continued to increase. May 2020 goat and sheep prices are approximately 50-250 percent above May 2019 prices and four to six times the five-year average, while cattle prices are on average 90 percent above June 2019 levels and 325 percent above average.
Opportunities and wages for agricultural labor have also increased, but like livestock prices, increases in staple food prices have outpaced increases in wage labor rates, when compared to last year and historical averages. Agricultural labor opportunities and wages have increased with the progression of the agricultural season, with wages rising between 15 and 30 percent between March and June 2020. Moreover, labor opportunities have improved in the irrigated and rainfed sectors with the beginning of land preparation and planting activities. As of June 2020, labor wage rates are 100-150 percent higher than in June 2019 and 350 percent above the five-year average.
Due to the inability of increases in livestock and labor prices to offset sharp increases in staple food prices since at least mid-2019, household purchasing power is well below normal in many parts of Sudan. In El Obeid market, for example, goats-to-sorghum terms-of-trade in June 2020 (approx. 125 kg/head) are lower than at any period over the past several years (Figure 2). Meanwhile, labor to sorghum TOT remained 30-40 percent lower in June 2019 and 45-60 percent lower than the five-year average in Al Qadarif market.
In May 2020, WFP provided food assistance to approximately 2.8 million beneficiaries in Sudan, through various modalities including general food distributions (GFD). Among those receiving GFD, it is estimated the average ration was between 50 and 100 percent of the required 2,100 kilocalories. Approximately 50 percent of beneficiaries reached were long-term IDPs in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile, 15 percent were South Sudanese refugees and the remaining were returnees, rural residents and urban poor households affected by low production, conflict, and COVID-19 control measures. It is anticipated that this assistance is improving food security among beneficiaries in targeted areas.
Food security indicator data
Between November 2019 and March 2020, the World Food Programme and partners collected food security indicator data in all 18 states of Sudan. The indicators collected include Food Consumption Score, the reduced Coping Strategies Index, and a livelihoods coping module. These data were collected at the locality level, in 180 of the 187 localities in Sudan. No data collection took place in parts of North Darfur (Tina Locality), West Kordofan (Alsunot, Kalilak and Lagawa localities) and South Kordofan (Al Buram, Umdorain and Haiban localities). Moreover, these data were collected prior to the onset of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Sudan and were not intended to represent outcomes in the midst of the outbreak control measures. Finally, in some areas, responses to the survey were provided in the presence of significant humanitarian assistance, meaning that these indicators may have appeared worse had emergency food assistance not been provided.
Overall, the results suggest that, following 2019 harvests and prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, a large number of people in Sudan were likely facing food consumption and irreversible coping that would jeopardize households’ ability to meet their food needs in the short and medium term. Given differences in what these food security indicators are designed to capture and the way in which these indicators were collected, a convergence of evidence based on summary results alone is difficult, and would individually produce an extremely wide range of possible estimates of the number of people in need. For example, at the national level, 19 percent of households reported food consumption consistent with Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse (i.e. “borderline” or “poor” food consumption). Meanwhile, a very small percentage of households reported consumption-based coping indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse, while more than one third of households reported livelihoods-based coping indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse.
Current food security outcomes
Acute food insecurity continues to worsen in Sudan as households begin to enter the lean season, face poor purchasing power as a result of the ongoing macroeconomic crisis and COVID-19 control measures. Poor households who typically have remaining food stocks at this time of year have likely begun to exhaust them, and those who tend to rely more on markets are facing increasing difficulty accessing sufficient income to purchase food at very high prices. Based on the qualitative and quantitative evidence available, large numbers of people are expected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse acute food insecurity, in the absence of the assistance ongoing in Sudan. Among populations most in need are long-term IDPs located mostly in the Darfur states, conflict-affected populations in South Kordofan and Jebel Marra, chronically food insecure households who typically face food consumption deficits during the lean season, and urban and labor-dependent households worst affected by COVID-19-related restrictions on population movements, economic activity, and trade.
Of greatest concern are areas in South Kordofan and Jebel Marra, where continued displacement, limited market and labor access to due insecurity, high staple food prices, and a lack of humanitarian access to populations most in need are likely resulting in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). Likewise, chronically food insecure areas of Red Sea state, where very poor households are particularly dependent on migratory labor and are similarly affected by very high staple food prices, are also expected to face large food consumption gaps and be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). In addition to these populations, large numbers of people are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, meaning households are able to minimally meet their basic food needs but are unlikely to fulfill all of their livelihoods protection needs. Moreover, these households are at further risk of facing food consumption gaps and requiring humanitarian assistance, should food security conditions worsen.Assumptions
The most-likely scenario for June 2020 to January 2021 is based on the following national-level assumptions:
- The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to continue in Sudan throughout the projection period and we anticipate an increasing number of cases and geographical spread of the pandemic across the country.
- It is assumed that current COVID-19 prevention and control measures will be eased but remain in place during the scenario period. This includes restricting the throughput of people and goods through airports, seaports, and land crossings, and as well as bans on public and private transportation of people between states within Sudan. These measures are anticipated to disrupt typical income-earning opportunities for some populations, and it is anticipated that the effects on food and income sources will persist throughout the outlook period.
- Likewise, exemptions to these restrictions, including for imports of humanitarian assistance, essential health supplies and medicine, imports of wheat and wheat flour, exports of meat and live animals and some agricultural products, and transportation of essential goods between the states are likely to continue.
- Compliance with control measures is expected to remain low, but will be more strictly enforced in urban centers compared to rural areas, as farmers and pastoralists continue to migrate livestock and conduct cross-border activities, though at slightly below-normal levels.
- Sudan is likely to continue facing severe macroeconomic difficulties associated with low foreign exchange reserves in the official banking system and the informal market through January 2021. Shortages of foreign currency are likely to continue, and will be exacerbated by increased demand for imports of medicines, sanitizers, personal protective equipment and other essential food and non-food items as part of measures set to control COVID-19. However, some additional income from export of oil crops, animals, and animal products is expected during the post-harvest period.
- Based on FEWS NET’s integrated projections, the Sudanese Pound (SDG) is likely to depreciate further on the parallel market and will likely be between 120 and 150 SDG/USD during the scenario period (Figure 3).
- Based on FEWS NET’s integrated price projections, retail prices for sorghum and millet are expected to continue increasing into the peak of the lean season in August and September 2020. Overall, sorghum and millet prices are expected to be over 200 percent higher than last year and 400-500 percent above the five-year average during the scenario period. Prices for locally produced wheat will also continue to increase and will remain about 150 percent higher than last year’s prices and more than 350-400 percent above the five-year average.
- Sudan is expected to import 1.6 million MT of wheat, compared to 2.5 million for last year and 1.8 million for the five-year average. In addition, Sudan is expected to import 60,000 MT of rice and 23,000 MT of maize overall. Levels of imports will remain below average as a result of the growing shortage of foreign exchange and COVID-19 measures.
- Shortages and high prices of fuel (diesel) are expected to persist across Sudan through January 2021. Fuel prices in remote areas of Darfur, South Kordofan, and Northern states will remain arround 50 percent above those in central Sudan, while fuel prices on the informal market will likely be more than twice as high as official prices across the country.
- Internal and cross-border trade flows are expected to be negatively impacted by restricted transportation and population movements resulting from COVID-19 control measures. Flows of locally produced and imported commodities between main production, collection, and consumption markets are likely to be reduced while these measures are in place. Formal trade flows are likely to remain restricted while informal flows are likely to continue at higher than normal costs.
- Poor households’ access to food and cash income is expected to be negatively impacted by restricted population movements. Of high concern are poor groups in urban centers dependent on daily wage labor and petty trade, as well as poor households from pastoral and agropostoral communities whose access to cash and in-kind payments would be significantly reduced.
- Remittances by migrant family members in areas of seasonal migration and traditional gold mining in Sudan, as well as remittances by family members abroad, represent a major income source for poor and middle groups in most livelihood zones of Sudan. Remittance levels are likely to be limited and remain below average due to COVID-19-related reductions in population movements, closure of borders, repariation of Sudanees from some countries , and curfews in areas of migration that restrict household members’ access to labor opportunities.
- Livestock prices are expected to slightly increase during the first half of the scenario period and remain relatively stable during the second half of the scenario period. Goat prices are expected to remain relatively stable or start to decrease between May and September, when market supply increases as households sell additional livestock to fund food purchases, at a time when exports to Saudi Arabia are expected to be below average given limitations on the Hajj. Overall, goat prices are expected to remain 30-50 percent higher than last year and 150-180 percent above the five-year average.
- Based on projected cereal and goat prices, goat-to-cereal terms of trade are expected to decline 5 to 10 percent between June and September 2020, and remain on average 20-30 percent lower than last year and 15-20 percent below the five-year average throughout the scenario period.
- Cumulative rainfall during the June to September 2020 rainy season in Sudan is likely to be average and well distributed, with an on-time start and end to the season. This is likely to support planting and development of crops, as well as regeneration of pasture and water resources.
- According to the June 2020 Desert Locust Situation Update, locust swarms in northeast Kenya are expected to move across South Sudan to Sudan and Ethiopia where breeding will occur in July. According to the update, a moderate number of swarms from Kenya and Ethiopia are likely to arrive from early July onwards in Kordofan, White Nile, Blue Nile and Sennar states, while some swarms are also expected to reach the Darfur states. It is also expected that swarms will find good breading conditions once they arrive in Sudan and hatching and band formation are expected from end-July onwards.
- Given above-average cereal prices and low closing stocks this year, farmers are likely to increase their area planted in cereals compared to last year. However, shortages of labor and agricultural inputs, as a result of macreconomic difficulties and COVID-19 restricts, are likely to constrain further increases in planting. Area cultivated is likely to remain near average in the traditional and the semi-mechanized rain-fed sectors.
- Agricultural labor opportunities and wages, which are currently at the range of 200-250 SDG per day of work on land preparation and sowing, are expected to increase to 300-400 SDG in the semi-mechanized sector, 150-200 per day for the traditional sector during the weeding (August-September) and harvesting (November to January) periods. Labor wages are anticipated to be 20-50 percent above last year’s and more than twice the five-year average due to expected labor shortage as a result of current closure of borders and as laborers demand higher wages in response to continued local currency depreciation and rising prices of other goods and services. Nevertheless, labor-to-sorghum terms of trade are expected to be 30-40 percent lower than last year and 50-60 percent lower than the five-year average.
- Low levels of conflict are expected to be maintained across Sudan during the outlook period. However, sporadic tribal clashes are expected in some parts of western and eastern Sudan. Accordingly, low levels of new internal displacement are expected. Overall, the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Sudan is expected to remain around 1.9 million, mostly in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile states. Meanwhile, the number of refugees from neighboring countries, primarily South Sudan, is expected to remain near 1 million.
- WFP and implementing partners are likely to provide emergency food assistance to over four million beneficiaries, including IDPs and conflict-affected people in Darfur, Kordofan and Blue Nile, and refugees from South Sudan. A scale-up in assistance to an additional 2.2 million people is possible under plans to reach households affected by COVID-19 measures. Although no regular humanitarian access to SPLM-N-controlled areas of South Kordofan and parts of Jebel Mara and Blue Nile is assumed for this scenario period, ongoing peace talks and efforts by the government and SPLM-N could lead to increased access and assistance in these areas.
- Between June and September, the typical lean season in Sudan, access to food and income normally declines as households exhaust their food stocks and rely on market purchases to access food while prices are at their seasonal peak. This year, households’ food stocks from own production are estimated to be exhausted earlier. Access to agricultural labor opportunities are expected to remain lower than usual. Increases in rates for wage labor and prices for livestock have failed to keep pace with increases in staple food prices, which are extremely high. Particularly among conflict-affected households, IDPs, and households who chronically face food consumption deficits during the lean season, food security outcomes between June and September 2020 are expected to be more severe than usual. Accordingly, increased localities in pastoral and agropastoral zones across greater Darfur, greater Kordofan, states of western Sudan, Kassala, Red Sea and northern Gadarif in eastern Sudan as well as some localities in urban and semi-urban areas in central Sudan are expected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between June and September 2020. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is likely among IDPs in SPLM-N controlled areas of South Kordofan, IDPs and conflict-affected households in Jebel Marra in Darfur and poor households in northern Red Sea state and southern Kassala during the August-September peak of the lean season. During this time, large numbers of people are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes, in the absence of humanitarian assistance.
- Between October 2020 and January 2021, the pre-harvest and harvest period, overall food security outcomes are expected to start to improve gradually as agricultural and agropastoral households begin to access food from their own production and in-kind payments from agricultural labor. Increased wages from agricultural labor, the sale of goats, increased consumption of milk from livestock and the sale of livestock products, help will support access to food. Nevertheless, very high staple food prices are expected to continue leading households to face difficulty meeting their basic food needs, particularly as COVID-19 measures continue to limit economic activity. As a result, While many areas will improve from Crisis (IPC phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2), most conflict-affected areas in greater Darfur, and greater Kordofan currently hosting IDPs and refugees, including parts of Jebel Marra and South Kordofan, southern Blue Nile, some pastoral and agropastoral areas of northern Kassala, and northern Red Sea states will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
Events that Mould Change the Outlook
Impact on food security outcomes
Increased support from international community, significant improvements in macroeconomic conditions.
Improved macroeconomic conditions would improve availability and reduce prices of essential food and non-food items, and improve household purchasing power. This is likely to result in reduced numbers of people facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity.
Significant increase in the spread of COVID-19, increased numbers of cases, implementation of further strict measures
This would further reduce income-earning opportunities, driving,significant increases in the number of people facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes, including growing numbers of people facing large food consumption gaps consistent with Emergency (IPC Phase 4).
Worse than anticipated increases in staple food prices and/or decreases in labor opportunities during the outlook period.
Worse than anticipated increases in staple food prices, arising either from further deterioration in the macroeconomy or restrictions on trade and population movements due to COVID-19 would be likely to drive even higher increases in the number of people facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse, including notable increases in the number of people facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse.
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About Scenario Development
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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