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Food security will improve during harvest and post-harvest period

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Sudan
  • October 2012 - March 2013
Food security will improve during harvest and post-harvest period

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Areas of Concern
  • Events that Might Change the Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • As of October 2012, an estimated 3.2 to 3.5 million people in Sudan face Stressed and Crisis (IPC Phase 2 and 3) levels of acute food insecurity, a 30–35 percent reduction compared to 4.6 million people in July 2012.  Food security is generally improving due to expectations for an above-average harvest at the national level, projected to be double last year’s poor harvest and 15 percent above the five-year average. However, harvests in some areas have been impacted by conflict, flooding, pest infestations, and labor shortages. 

    • Conflict, insecurity, and displacement in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states remain major challenges to food security. In SPLM-N-controlled areas, the impacts of prolonged displacement, asset depletion, and restricted access to humanitarian assistance and markets are compounding, though some slight to modest improvements in food security are expected. Most households were able to engage in jubraka (backyard garden) cultivation, which will provide food supplies for a few months. Furthermore, improved availability of own production and wild foods will provide an opportunity for households to build up food stocks and for the host community to support IDPs during the lean season. 

    • Food security in SPLM-N-controlled areas of South Kordofan will improve to Stressed and Crisis levels due to slight improvements in access to agricultural labor, decreased prices, support from the better-off, limited own production, increased income from cash crop sales, and improved availability of wild food.  Most residents will face Stressed levels, due to better access to cultivation and income opportunities, while most IDPs will face Crisis levels. In conflict-affected areas of Blue Nile state, food security will improve to Stressed levels due to less conflict during the cultivation season.

    • Although a considerable number of IDPs in Darfur have cultivated small to medium-scale farms this year, IDPs in conflict-affected areas (East Jebel Mara and parts of North Darfur), where access by humanitarian agencies to deliver humanitarian assistance is severely constrained, will face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity through March.     


    National Overview
    Current Situation

    As of October 2012, an estimated 3.2 to 3.5 million people in Sudan face Stressed and Crisis (IPC Phase 2 and 3) levels of acute food insecurity, a 30–35 percent reduction compared to 4.6 million people in July 2012.  Food security is generally improving due to expectations for an above-average harvest at the national level, projected to be double last year’s poor harvest and 15 percent above the five-year average, according to FAO estimates in October. The most significant reduction in the food insecure population is expected in Darfur, due to an increased number of IDPs – an estimated 50 percent of IDPs, approximately 5-10 percent more than last year – engaged in small to medium-scale cultivation this year. 

    Harvests of cash crops (e.g. groundnut, sesame) and early maturing vegetables (e.g. cucumber, okra and watermelon) have already started, and the harvest of main staple crops (e.g., sorghum, millet) began in mid-October.

    In response to the expected bumper harvest, cereal prices have started to decline since August in most markets, although September prices are still 150-170 percent higher than the five-year average due to inflation, local currency devaluation, costly agricultural inputs, and high transportation costs due to increased fuel prices. The GoS indicated willingness to resume sorghum exports (to Eritrea, Ethiopia, and South Sudan) this year, which is likely to keep prices above average despite the good harvest.

    Conflict and insecurity and the consequent displacement in Blue Nile, South Kordofan and Darfur states remain major challenges to food security.  As of the beginning of October, UNHCR reported the presence of over 174,000 refugees from Blue Nile and South Kordofan in South Sudan’s Unity and Upper Nile states and 38,700 refugees in Assosa region of Ethiopia. In SPLM-N-controlled areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile in particular, the impacts of prolonged displacement, asset depletion, use of unsustainable coping mechanisms, and restricted access to humanitarian assistance and markets are compounding, though some slight improvements in food security are expected over the next few months given the ongoing harvest.

    In late September, Sudan and South Sudan, under the mediation of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), signed agreements on several issues, including the resumption of South Sudan’s oil export via facilities in Sudan; cross-border trade; the “four freedoms” to reside, own property, move, and work in each other’s country; and the creation of a demilitarized buffer zone along the 1,800 km border between the two countries. In spite of these agreements, unresolved issues related to Abyei, the ongoing conflict in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, and the border demarcation are potential risks to security and peace.

    Assumptions

    Above average national harvest prospects: The expected national sorghum and millet production will be sufficient to cover domestic consumption. Above-average production and declining prices will provide an opportunity to build food stocks at household and commercial levels.  The strategic grain reserve is planning to procure over 550,000 MT of sorghum this year.   Sudan is expected to import over 80 percent of its wheat consumption (about 2 million MT/year), as occurs in a typical year.

    Localized pest infestations:  Pest infestations (e.g. birds, grasshoppers, tree locusts, and American worms) have been reported in parts of Blue Nile, South Kordofan, South Darfur, West Darfur, White Nile, and North Darfur states, and control measures are underway. According to FAO, control measures were taken in response to small groups and one small swarm of locusts northwest of Khartoum. Favorable conditions for locust breeding remain in Northern Darfur, Northern Kordofan, River Nile, Northern and Kassala states. There is a high risk of potential concentration of adult swarms in these areas, which could pose risks to crops during the harvest time (October – December). In some parts of Blue Nile State and Dindir locality of Sinar State, water logging is expected to lower sesame and sorghum production.

    Macroeconomic indicators: High inflation is likely to continue until oil export from South Sudan via Sudan resumes, reportedly in several months’ time. For the first time since February 2012, the national inflation rate declined slightly from 42.8 percent in August to 41.6 percent in September, due to reduced food prices. Furthermore, 11 out of the 17 states reflected a declining pattern of inflation since August.

    Labor shortages and costs of agricultural production: The cost of labor has more than doubled this year compared to last year, due to a shortage of labor because of insecurity, the border closure with South Sudan, and a shift among Sudanese laborers to work on traditional gold mining in River Nile, Northern, South Kordofan, North Kordofan and North Darfur states. For example, weeding in Blue Nile State increased from SDG 35 - 40 in 2011 to SDG 80 – 90 per fedan in 2012.

    Since the signing of the peace deal with South Sudan, there has been some movement of laborers from Upper Nile State of South Sudan to semi-mechanized farms in White Nile. The recent arrivals reduced the cost of labor from SDG 30 to SDG 20 per hilla (bundle) of sesame, and provided about 60 percent of the labor required to harvest sesame in Sinar state. Although some increased labor flows from South Sudan are expected, labor shortages will continue during the harvest period (October – December).  This is likely to delay the harvest, and potentially cause some harvest losses.

    Peace deal between Sudan and South Sudan: The September peace deal between the two countries has the potential to lead to positive developments in both countries. In addition to the increased revenues expected to follow resumption of the oil flows, South Sudan will pay Sudan approximately US$ 3 billion in installments to offset the financial shocks as a result of South Sudan’s secession. These events could counterbalance the national budget deficit, preventing further inflation, hard currency devaluation, and austerity measures. In addition, defused tension along the border associated with the “four rights” of the citizens and resumption of trade could allow traditional seasonal grazing patterns to resume, increase trade flows from Sudan to South Sudan, increase the supply of livestock from South Sudan to Sudan, and encourage seasonal labor movements between the two countries.

    Cereal and cash crop prices: Cereal prices will continue to decline during the harvest (October-December), though not as much as in a typical year, due to inflation, high production costs this year, and high demand for export to South Sudan. Prices are likely to stabilize or slightly increase during the post-harvest period (January-March). Cash crop prices in the main production areas have started to decline seasonally, in some cases very sharply, particularly in remote production areas such as South and East Darfur. Prices of groundnut in Ed Daein market (East Darfur) declined from SDG 120 to SDG 60 per Guntar (1 Guntar = 100 lb) due to the promising harvest and expansion in area planted – at the expense of cereals – due to high prices over the course of 2011. Net returns from cash crop sales do not therefore favor remote small scale producers.

    Favorable livestock conditions: The above average rains provided favorable water and pasture conditions for livestock in most parts of Sudan. Thus, access to livestock products (e.g. milk) will remain high during the scenario period.      

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    The scenario period covers the harvest and post-harvest period, when seasonal improvements in food security are expected due to greater food availability, abundant on-farm labor opportunities, lower food prices, and better access to livestock products. During October to December, most households in relatively secure areas will consume their own harvest and/or access sufficient cash from sale of cash crops, seasonal labor and sale of livestock to enable them access food from market. Consequently food security conditions will improve during the scenario period. In relatively secure areas of Sudan, the majority of people will have access to sufficient food, and will face minimal acute food insecurity (Phase 1).

    However in conflict-affected areas of South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur, only slight to modest improvements are expected. Food security in SPLM-N-controlled areas of South Kordofan will improve to Stressed and Crisis levels due to slight improvements in access to local agricultural labor, decreased market prices, support from the better-off, limited own production, increased income from the sale of cash crops, and improved availability of wild food.  Most residents will face Stressed levels, due to better access to cultivation and income opportunities, while most IDPs will face Crisis levels. In conflict-affected areas of Blue Nile state, food security will improve to Stressed levels due to less conflict during the cultivation season. 

    Although a considerable number of IDPs in Darfur have cultivated small to medium-scale farms this year, some IDPs who were recently displaced and/or failed to cultivate due to security reasons will face difficulties fulfilling their minimum food requirements without food assistance. Displaced populations in the most conflict-affected areas of Darfur (e.g. East Jebel Mara), where access by humanitarian agencies to deliver humanitarian assistance is severely constrained by prevailing insecurity, will face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity through at least March. 


    Areas of Concern

    South Kordofan

    Current Situation

    Conflict between the SPLM-N and Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) in South Kordofan has continued since June 2011, with major repercussions on food security in the state. As of October, 400,000 to 500,000 people have been directly/indirectly affected by the conflict, including 150,000 to 200,000 people now in SPLM-N-controlled areas, and 160,000 – 180,000 people in GoS-controlled areas.  In addition, there are more than 67,000 refugees in Unity State of South Sudan, and an unknown but likely considerable number of IDPs in other parts of Sudan, including Khartoum.

    The areas most affected by conflict include Um Dorien, Dellami, Talodi, Al Abssiya, Alleri, Kouda, Kalugi, Western Delinj, and some parts of Rashad and Kadugli localities. Restrictions on trade and humanitarian access from GoS to SPLM-N controlled areas continue.  However, WFP has distributed food to most IDPs in GoS-controlled areas.

    Assumptions

    2012/13 harvest: In conflict-affected parts of South Kordofan, cultivation was considerably affected by insecurity, mainly in Buram, Heiban, Dellami, western parts of Kadugli, parts of Dalenj, Rashad, and Talodi localities. 

    Access to food: Most households, including in SPLM-N-controlled areas, were able to engage in jubraka (backyard garden) cultivation, which will provide food supplies for a few months. Furthermore, improved availability of own production and wild foods will provide an opportunity for households to build up food stocks and for the host community to support IDPs during the next lean season.  Wild foods are an important source of food for IDPs, and will be abundant during the coming months, improving food access for the displaced. 

    Conflict: Conflict is likely to continue and worsen after the rains stop in October. The peace accord between Sudan and South Sudan is not expected to bring improvements to security conditions in South Kordofan.

    Market access and prices:  Conflict-affected areas in South Kordofan are expected to benefit from the good national-level harvest, as greater availability will allow traders to smuggle commodities into SPLM-N-controlled areas at lower prices than in the previous months.  Prices have already begun stabilizing or declining in markets across the country in response to the expectations of a good harvest.  Prices are expected to continue to decline through at least January, including in conflict-affected areas, as harvests come on the market.  Increased supplies of grains to markets will reduce staple food prices in all markets in South Kordofan, including SPLM-N controlled areas. In addition, the recent peace agreement with South Sudan is expected to lead to official exports of sorghum to the south via roads and rivers.  Some of this export could pass into conflict-affected areas in South Kordofan via traders. 

    Delivery of humanitarian assistance to SPLM-N controlled areas: The tripartite agreement, which will end in mid-November, is not expected to result in the delivery of humanitarian assistance to affected populations in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states as sufficient time is not available.  Delivery of humanitarian assistance by WFP and the GoS to IDPs in GoS-controlled areas of South Kordofan is likely to continue during the scenario period, particularly as road access improves during the dry season.

    Improved access to seasonal labor: Opportunities for agricultural wage labor are highest during the September to December period.  However, in conflict-affected areas of South Kordofan, wage labor opportunities remain limited, though some IDPs have been able to work on host community farms within SPLM-N areas in exchange for food or, less commonly, income.  Host community farmers will be able to sell limited amounts of staple and cash crops through traders smuggling goods from SPLM-N areas to other parts of the state or region.  Displaced households in GoS areas will also have more labor opportunities on the farms of host communities.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Overall the food security situation is likely to improve slightly compared to the peak lean season (May – September), when Emergency (IPC Phase 4) levels of insecurity prevailed. Food security in SPLM-N-controlled areas of South Kordofan will improve to Stressed and Crisis levels over the Outlook period due to slight improvements in access to local agricultural labor, decreased market prices, support from the better-off, limited own production, increased income from the sale of cash crops, and improved availability of wild food.  Most residents will face Stressed levels, due to better access to cultivation and income opportunities, while most of the 150,000 to 200,000 IDPs will face Crisis levels.

    In GoS-controlled areas, about 160,000 to 180,000 IDPs and conflict affected populations will continue to face Stressed levels of food insecurity over the Outlook period.

    Darfur

    Current Situation

    Protracted conflict has continued for more than eight years in Darfur as major rebel groups have not signed a peace agreement with the GoS. Although security conditions have considerably improved in some areas (e.g. West Darfur state), major insecurity continues in some parts of North Darfur and East Jebel Marra. Relative improvements in security in some areas, reductions in humanitarian aid, the sharp increase in food prices over the past two years, and the good rains this year have all encouraged both permanent and seasonal returns of IDPs to cultivate this year. An estimated 200,000 IDPs and refugees have returned to their home villages in different parts of Darfur over the past years. An increased number of IDPs (over 50 percent) engaged in cultivation this year, although humanitarian assessments indicate that returnees face a lack of basic services and viable livelihood opportunities. 

    In spite of these positive indicators, sporadic conflict and insecurity continue to endanger lives and livelihoods, disturb trade flows, cause new displacement, and reduce access by humanitarian agencies. The main areas of concern include East Jebel Marra at the junction of North and South Darfur states, and Kuttum, Fatabarno, Mellit, Kebkabiya and Dar Al Salam localities in North Darfur state. The most recent fighting between SAF and Darfur armed groups in Hassbaba area of Kuttum locality displaced over 10,000 people to Mellit town, El Fasher town, and Noam Valley. Some villages (e.g. Hashaba, Um Loata, Khasim Wadi and Tabaldiya) were reportedly abandoned.  In addition, recent fighting between SAF and armed groups in East Jebel Marra forced over 1,500 people to flee to Tawila, Dali and Zamazam camps in North Darfur. Repeated attacks on commercial convoys by rebel groups and armed militias along the road between EL Fasher and Nyala town for more than a month have created food scarcity and caused prices to sharply rise.

    Assumptions

    Above-average harvest prospects: A good harvest is projected in most parts of Darfur. According to field reports, farmers expanded groundnut cultivation this year at the expense of other crops to take advantage of a sharp increase in groundnut prices in 2012 and to reduce the risk of crop damage by animals, as groundnut fruit is underground. In South Darfur, the State Ministry of Agriculture projected a 10 percent increase in area planted this year compared to last year. Within Darfur, area planted comprises 31 percent for groundnut, 24 percent for millet, 19 percent for sorghum, and 26 percent for other crops. Expanded cultivation this year could trigger crop destruction by animals, potentially resulting in clashes between farmers and cattle herders. Numerous incidents of crop destruction by animals have already been reported in South and West Darfur.  

    Conflict: With the absence of a comprehensive peace agreement to accommodate all Darfur factions, sporadic fighting will continue to endanger lives and livelihoods, disturb trade flows, reduce access to seasonal agricultural labor during the harvest and disturb access by humanitarian agencies. The recent peace agreement with South Sudan stipulated that all support to rebel groups in Darfur would be suspended.  This has the potential to increase attacks by rebel groups on commercial convoys, potentially disrupting supplies and impacting prices.

    Population movement: Returns are likely to continue and humanitarian agencies are projecting 130,000 returnees in Darfur over the next year. Nevertheless, as conflict continues, new displacement is also likely to occur.

    Good pasture and water conditions for livestock: The above average rains resulted in good pasture and water conditions for animals in most parts of Darfur. However, the heavy rains/flooding damaged a considerable number of hafirs and dams.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Overall, food security conditions in Darfur are likely to improve through the scenario period, and most residents and mixed (IDPs and resident) communities are expected to have above-average access to food and cash income and to face minimal levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1). However, most of the 1.8 million IDPs in camps are expected to face Stressed levels (Phase 2) of food insecurity. Recently displaced people (e.g. Hashaba in Kuttum locality of North Darfur) and those in conflict-affected areas (e.g. East Jebel Marra) will face Crisis levels through the scenario period.      

    Blue Nile State

    Conflict between the SPLM-N and SAF in Blue Nile state has continued since September 2011. As of October, 50,000 to 100,000 conflict-affected people are located in SPLM-N-controlled areas, and about 100,000 people are displaced in GoS-controlled areas. In addition, about 109,000 and 38,700 refugees from Blue Nile fled to Upper Nile state of South Sudan and to Assossa region of Ethiopia, respectively.

    Conflict in Blue Nile has considerably declined in recent months due to rains and seasonal streams/wadis that blocked roads. Access to cultivation, seasonal agricultural labor, and trade supplies from GoS to SPLM-N areas is better than last year and better than in South Korodofan this year. Therefore, food security conditions in both SPLM-N controlled areas and GoS-controlled areas will improve. In SPLM-N controlled areas, food security conditions will improve from Crisis levels during the lean season to Stressed levels during the harvest period (October – December 2012) and through March 2013. In GoS-controlled areas, Stressed levels of insecurity will persist through the scenario period.

    Red Sea State

    Food insecurity in Red Sea state is mainly driven by climatic conditions, as rains do not support cultivation in most parts of the state, although the good rains have reportedly generated good pasture for animals and provided sufficient seasonal flooding of small Khors/seasonal streams suitable for small scale flood irrigation. In spite of the national bumper harvest this year, about 300,000 poor people in rural areas will continue to face Stressed levels of food insecurity through the scenario period, due to limited purchasing power as a result of marginal income activities and expected above-average prices throughout the scenario period.         


    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    Area

    Event

    Impact on food security outcomes

    SPLM-N controlled areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile states

    Improved access by humanitarian agencies

    Humanitarian assistance in these areas will increase access to food and other basic needs (health, water, protection etc.) and gradually lead to food security improvement from Crisis to Stressed levels of food insecurity

    North Kordofan, North Darfur and Kassala states

    Severe outbreak of desert locust without effective control measures

    Locust will cause severe damage to crops and reduce household’s food and cash crop’s production considerably. This will increase vulnerability of households in affected areas and lead deterioration of food insecurity to Stressed levels among resident and mixed communities and to Crisis levels among IDPs in camps  

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes, October

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, October

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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