Very poor economic conditions and flooding drive high food assistance needs through May 2021
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
An atypical high number of people will require emergency food assistance in Sudan throughout the scenario period. Poor macroeconomic conditions, very high staple food prices, and the loss of assets from the worst flooding the country has seen in 30 years will limit household food access despite the upcoming average harvest. The worst-affected areas will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), including parts of Jebel Marra and South Kordofan, Red Sea and Kassala states. An increasing number of the households in western Sudan and urban centers, including Khartoum, will face increased difficulty meeting their food needs due to reduced purchasing power-driven by the loss of assets in flooding, poor macroeconomic conditions, and very high staple food prices and are expected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
Sudan continues to face a deteriorating macroeconomic situation that has been exacerbated by COVID-19 restrictions and flooding. In September 2020, the government declared a State of Economic Emergency and announced the formation of a joint mechanism to protect the Sudanese economy. However, Sudan continues to face severely limited foreign currency reserves in the official banking system and reduced access to sufficient foreign exchange resources due to structural economic factors and export losses from smuggling and speculation. The Sudanese Pound value continues to weaken in the parallel market, depreciating from 170 SDG/USD in August to 240 SDG/USD by mid-October 2020. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), the national inflation rate increased by around 45 percent from approximately 167 percent in August 2020 to 212 percent in September 2020. The macroeconomic crisis is continuing to negatively impact households' purchasing power, particularly poor households in flood-affected areas. The macroeconomic crisis is exacerbated by a significant increase in the need to import essential food and non-food items (agricultural inputs, health and medical equipment, etc.) to mitigate the loss of assets and infrastructure from flooding and meet emergency health care and COVID-19 pandemic needs.
On October 27, 2020, Sudan's government removed all fuel subsidies, leading to a 400 percent increase in fuel prices. On October 28, a liter of gasoline will be sold at 120 SDG instead of 28 SDG previously. The price of a liter of diesel increased from 23 SDG/liter to 106 SDG/liter, and the in petrol increased from28 SDG/liter to 120SDG/liter. The rise in fuel prices has led to a more than 100 percent increase in Khartoum transportation tariffs and is expected to lead to a steep increase in food and non-food items.
In October, Sudan continues facing severe wheat and wheat flour shortages due to the Sudanese Pound's FOREX shortage and rapid devaluation. According to the Strategic Reserve Corporation, Sudan needs over 1 million MT of wheat to cover consumption needs through March-April 2021, the next local wheat harvest. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and WFP are expected to initially provide around 430,000 MT and 80,000 MT of wheat, respectively, as part of a broader commitment by the UAE and WFP to provide 200,000 MT and 450,000 MT, respectively. Sudan is expected to import over 400,000 MT to cover the anticipated wheat deficit through April 2021.
Prices and term-of-trade
Retail prices of sorghum and millet (the main staples) had mixed trends between September, the peak of the lean season, and the pre-harvest period of October 2020. Across most major monitored markets, prices increased by 5-15 percent. Still, there were reported 40-50 percent price increases in Om Dorman (the primary consumption market in Khartoum) and Kadugli markets due to relatively high demand and transportation costs. However, retail sorghum and millet prices decreased by 5-10 percent in Geneina and Kosti markets and the main market of El Obeid due to the increased supply from last year's carry-over stock. On average, sorghum sold for 75 SDG/kg in October compared to 70 SDG/kg in September. The mixed trends in prices were attributed to the availability of early maturing crops seasonally decreasing prices, the high cost of production and transportation, and the rapid depreciation of the Sudanese Pound, which kept prices high or increasing. In October, across main markets, sorghum and millet prices are 200-300 percent above respective prices last year and five to six times the recent five-year average for September. Border closures and high sorghum prices in Sudan have significantly reduced formal and informal cross-border sorghum exports. The July-September 2020 informal cross-border exports of sorghum, primarily to Eritrea, were estimated at just 352 MT compared to approximately 3,350 MT to Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2019.
The retail price for locally produced wheat increased seasonally by 10-20 percent in most main wheat production and consumption markets across the country between September and October 2020, with 50 percent price increases in Khartoum and Madani's main consumption markets. In Khartoum, the largest wheat consumption market in Sudan, locally produced wheat sold for 92.5 SDG/kg in October compared to 60 SDG/kg in September 2020. In October, the national wheat price is, on average, 150 percent above respective prices last year and 400 percent above the five-year average. Seasonally tightened supplies drive the high prices on top of current national shortages, high transportation costs, and high demand driven by the lean season and flood damage to household food stocks.
Goat and sheep prices either remained stable or decreased 5-10 percent across most markets between September and October 2020 due to increased market supplies as export demand, particularly from Saudi Arabia, remains low. However, livestock prices remained 90-100 percent above last year and 200-300 percent above the five-year average. The high prices are mainly attributed to the rapid depreciation of the Sudanese Pound, the continued deterioration of the macroeconomic situation, and the high transportation costs between areas of production and main markets.
Livestock-to-cereal terms-of-trade (TOT) remained lower than last year and the five-year average, as food prices continue to increase at greater rates than livestock prices. In September, the goats-to-sorghum TOT dropped by 11 and 14 percent compared to August in the El Obied market and Zalengi market, respectively. In El Obied, the goats-to-sorghum TOT fell from August to September from around 123 kg/head to 109 kg/head (Figure 1). However, in Zalengi, prices fell from around 76kg/head to 66kg/head from August to September, driven primarily by stable goat prices and a 10-20 percent increase in September sorghum prices. In September 2020, the national goat-to-sorghum TOT was 15-40 percent lower than September 2019 and 40-70 percent lower than the five-year average.
June to September 2020, rainfall performance was above average across most of Sudan. Average rain in July and above-average rainfall in August and September caused flash floods and waterlogging across most of the country, with Khartoum, Sennar, Northern, River Nile, and North Darfur the most affected states. Torrential rainfall and overflow of the River Nile and its tributaries during August and September resulted in the worst flooding in decades, affecting almost all 18 states of Sudan. According to the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) and OCHA, as of mid-September 2020, the flooding had killed about 155 people and directly affected over 875,000 people through the destruction or damage of over 175,000 houses, submerging around 1,400,000 hectares of cropped land and killing over 35,000 head of livestock. In mid-October, the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) showed dense vegetation conditions (over 140 percent of median) across central, western, and southeastern Sudan. NDVI also remains above the median across most parts of Northern and River Nile state, northern Red Sea state, and southern parts of South Kordofan and South Darfur states (Figure 2).
Cropping and Vegetation Conditions
According to the recently conducted mid-season assessment, the total area planted for sorghum, millet, groundnuts, sesame, and cotton by the end of August was around 54 million feddans (22.7 million hectares), approximately 86 percent of the targeted area. As planting of some crops continued during the assessment, mainly in the semi-mechanized and irrigated sectors, the planted area is expected to increase to around 61 million feddans (25.6 million hectares) by the end of September, approximately 95 percent of the targeted area. By mid-September, an estimated 96 percent of the 2020/21 planned sorghum crop was planted across 25.4 million feddans (10.7 million hectares). Additionally, around 1 million feddans (420,000 ha) of sorghum were planted through September to replace sesame impacted by waterlogging and sesame gall midge infestations.
Field reports indicate a good establishment of crops in both the rainfed and irrigated sectors, with most crops between the flowering and filling stages. Most of the sesame and groundnuts are at the filling and early maturing stage and expected to be harvested in November while late-planted sorghum and millet, particularly in areas affected by flooding, particularly Gedarif, Blue Nile, Sennar, and East Darfur states, are at the advanced vegetative growth stage and expected to be harvested in December and January.
According to the October 2020 Desert Locust Bulletin, mature solitarious adults and groups of desert locusts were observed on the Red Sea coast north of Toker Delta in September. However, more immature and mature adults and swarms were observed from northern Haiya to South of Dordaib in Red Sea state where egg-laying has occurred, and hatching and band formation has commenced. Scattered immature and mature solitarious adults were present in North Darfur, near El Fasher and North Kordofan near Sodari, the River Nile between Shandi and Atbara, and along the Atbara river. The infestation of desert locusts between October and December in these areas will remain a potential threat to summer season crops during the harvest period and the winter season crops during germination and early growth stages.
The above-normal rains have driven favorable pasture regeneration and improved water availability for livestock across most pastoral and agropastoral areas. As of mid-October 2020, vegetation conditions as inferred by NDVI remain above 140 percent of normal across much of the main grazing areas in eastern and western parts of the country, including most of Darfur and North Kordofan states and parts of Gadaref, Sennar, and Kassala states. According to the USGS water point viewer, there are good water conditions across most monitoring points. However, in August, heavy rains resulted in increased flooding and waterlogging, which led to average to below-average pasture conditions in parts of Blue Nile, South Kordofan and Kassala, and Darfur states. Destruction of some open water sources (Bout dam) by the flooding is expected to result in water shortages during the post-harvest (December/January) livestock migration to summer season grazing areas in parts of Kordofan and Blue Nile state
Improved livestock body conditions and production are being driven by the above normal vegetation and improved pasture and water access in most pastoral and agropastoral livelihood zones in western, central, and eastern Sudan. Near normal seasonal movements of transhumant pastoralists into wet season grazing areas in the northern parts of the country have been reported along most traditional animal migratory routes.
COVID-19 related information
By October 22, 2020, the number of officially confirmed cumulative COVID-19 cases was 13,724. However, the number of daily cases continues to decline. In mid-October, the bi-weekly number of newly confirmed cases was approximately 51 compared to 105 cases during the last week of September. The rate of positive cases from tested samples has also declined from 1 percent to 0.4 percent; however, testing remains limited and primarily undertaken for certified travelers departing the country. Over 80 percent of cases in October have been reported in Khartoum state.
As of October 2020, Sudan has eased most COVID-19 control measures, including opening all economic activities and interstate travels, reopening airports for international travel, and allowing free movements of goods through seaports and land crossings. On October 17, all border crossings between Sudan and Ethiopia were officially reopened for trade, while population movements across most borders remain controlled. Nevertheless, field informants reported active informal cross border labor movement from Ethiopia towards agricultural schemes to join the harvesting season. The improved cross-border labor movement will likely improve the availability of harvest labor in the semi-mechanized agricultural areas. Still, available labor is likely to remain below average due to labor shortages and high transportation costs, high cost of leaving, and below the average rate of cross-border labor movements from Ethiopia.
Opportunities and wages for agricultural labor have significantly increased in September and October due to continued replanting and weeding activities caused by flooding and waterlogging in earlier harvested cash crops. Agricultural labor wages increased by 20-30 percent between June and October 2020. Wages were 400-600 SDG/day in October 2020 compared to 250-350 SDG/day for the same period last year, a 60-70 percent increase, while remaining 230 percent above the five-year average. Despite the increase in wage rates, the labor-to-sorghum TOT dropped 24 percent between June to October 2020 as sorghum prices increased by 40-60 percent compared to the 20-30 increase in labor wages.
The easing of COVID-19 related restrictions over the past few months has likely improved rural poor household access to non-agricultural income to near-normal levels, particularly income from remittances sent by household members working in traditional gold mining, migrant labor, and domestic labor main towns, along with income from the collection and sale of forest products. In urban centers, following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, poor households are dependent on petty trade and daily labor opportunities at markets and industrial areas, domestic work, and migrant labor.
Conflict and Displacement
On October 3, 2020, after a year of intensive negotiations, the Sudanese government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front rebel alliance (SRF) signed a comprehensive peace agreement. The agreement includes eight protocols for Darfur, South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and central, eastern, and northern Sudan. A federal regional system of government will be re-established, and the signatories will be represented in the Sovereign Council, Ministerial council of the transitional government, and the Transitional Legislative Council. The agreement is expected to slowly improve humanitarian access and improve trade flows, food prices, and food availability to former SRF-held areas.
Despite the recent signing of the peace agreement, sporadic tribal clashes and civil unrest continued in some parts of western and eastern Sudan. However, limited new internal displacement has been reported since January 2020. The number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Sudan has remained at around 1.8 million, located mostly in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile states. In late September, there were approximately 729,500 refugees from neighboring countries, primarily South Sudan.
In September 2020, WFP and implementing partners provided approximately 2,725,159 million beneficiaries with 16,144 MT in-kind assistance of food commodities and 829,882 USD in cash vouchers, representing 55 percent of the planned quantity and 109 percent of the planned cash voucher equivalent value, respectively. Most beneficiaries reached by humanitarian assistance were IDPs and conflict-affected people in Greater Darfur, government-controlled areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, refugees from South Sudan, and flood-affected people in addition to chronically food-insecure areas of eastern and western Sudan. WFP is planning to distribute a total of 78,852 MT of food commodities and 10 million USD in cash vouchers to over 2.6 million beneficiaries between October and December 2020.
Summary of Food Security Outcomes
In October, household food security has begun to improve seasonally, driven by the increased availability of own production of earlier maturing crops from the ongoing 2020/21 agricultural season, in-kind and cash payments from agricultural labor, and improved income from the sale of early maturing crops, allowing market purchases. However, the persistent macroeconomic difficulties and continued above-average prices of essential food and non-food items exacerbated by the widespread flooding are driving worse food security outcomes than are typical during the harvest period. Moreover, the high need for reconstruction from flood damage combined with extremely high prices of construction materials, and food production and transportation costs, has significantly limited poor households' ability to maintain their typical access to food and income. These challenges are driving Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes across many areas of the country, while Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes exist in conflict-affected areas and areas hosting IDPs in Jebel Marra; SPLM-N controlled areas of South Kordofan; in addition to the northern parts of north Darfur, parts of North Kordofan, northern Kassala, and Red Sea states.
The most likely scenario for June 2020 to January 2021 is based on the following national-level assumptions:
- The total number of cases of COVID-19 is expected to increase during the projection period. Compliance with control measures is expected to remain generally low across the country.
- COVID-19 prevention and control measures are expected to remain at minimum levels throughout the scenario period. Monitoring and controlling people and goods through airports, seaports, and land crossings is expected to continue. Social distancing control measures such as restricting big gatherings are expected to remain in place. They are anticipated to have minimal effects on food and income sources during the outlook period.
- 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 May 2021. Shortages of foreign currency are likely to continue and will be exacerbated by increased demand for imports of essential food and non-food items. However, some additional income from the export of oil crops, animals, and animal products is expected during the post-harvest period of January to April 2021.
- Based on FEWS NET's integrated projections, the SDG is likely to depreciate further on the parallel market and be between 225 and 280 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 seasonally begin gradually decreasing in October 2020 with the beginning of the harvest period of the ongoing 2020/21 main agricultural season through March 2021. Overall, sorghum and millet prices are expected to be over 200 percent higher than last year and 400-600 percent above the five-year average during the scenario period. Prices for locally produced wheat are expected to continue to increase or remain stable between October 2020 and February 2021. In March 2021, wheat prices are anticipated to decrease seasonally with the beginning of the winter season harvest but will remain over 150 percent higher than October 2019 prices and more than 300-400 percent above the five-year average.
- Sudan is expected to import around 2 million MT of wheat between October 2020 and May 2021, compared to 2.5 million MT for the same period last year and 1.8 million MT for the five-year average. Also, Sudan is expected to import 60,000 MT of rice and 23,000 MT of maize. Levels of imports will remain below average because of the growing shortage of foreign exchange.
- Shortages and high prices of fuel (diesel) are expected to persist across Sudan through May 2021. Fuel prices in remote areas of Darfur, South Kordofan, and Northern states will remain around more than double the prices in central Sudan, while fuel prices on the informal market will likely be more than six times as high as official prices across the country.
- Remittances by migrant family members in areas of seasonal labor migration and traditional gold mining in Sudan and remittances by family members abroad represent a significant income source for poor and middle groups in most livelihood zones of Sudan. Remittance levels are likely to improve compared to the last six months due to improvements in household members' access to labor opportunities in areas abroad due to the partial lifting of COVID-19-related restrictions on population movements and border closures curfews, and the repatriation of Sudanese from some countries.
- Livestock prices are expected to remain relatively stable or increase by 5-10 percent in most markets during the harvest and post-harvest period (October 2020 through March 2021) due to improved animal body conditions from favorable pasture conditions and an expected decline of cereal prices during the post-harvest period. Livestock prices are likely to start seasonally decreasing by the beginning of the lean season (April/May 2021) as households sell additional livestock to fund staple food purchases and build household food stocks. Overall, livestock prices are expected to remain almost double compared to last year and 300-400 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 October 2020 and May 2021 and remain on average 15 percent lower than last year and 30 percent below the five-year average throughout the scenario period mainly due to the high increase in the price of sorghum relative to the price of a goat.
- The destruction and damage from heavy rains and floods to homes and infrastructure and the high loss of household assets and cropped areas are expected to compromise the expected harvest and weaken poor households' capacity to meet their essential food and livelihood needs. Stagnant water and poor sanitation and hygiene in most affected areas will increase household vulnerability to waterborne diseases.
- The above-average rainfall of the ongoing 2020/21 agricultural season is likely to support favorable crop yields in both rainfed and irrigated agricultural areas of Sudan. However, portions of cropped areas in some of the rain-fed semi-mechanized and irrigated agricultural sectors have been impacted by flooding and waterlogging, particularly cash crops. This is likely to compromise the forecasted above-average harvest, particularly for sesame and cotton.
- According to the October 2020 Desert Locust Bulletin, hatching and band formation are likely to occur in eastern Sudan between Kassala and Haiya until mid-October, with fledging and the formation of immature swarms from early November onwards. In the summer breeding areas, a few small groups may form west of the Nile Valley as vegetation dries out. In the winter breeding areas, breeding is expected to start on the Red Sea coast from October onwards and may be supplemented by groups and small swarms from Eritrea.
- Agricultural labor opportunities and wages are expected to increase from 450-550 SDG per day to 700-800 SDG in the semi-mechanized sector and 500-600 per day for the traditional sector during the harvesting period (December-February). Labor wages are anticipated to be 70-100 percent above last year and 200-300 percent above the five-year average due to an expected labor shortage due to the current border closures. Laborers are expected to demand higher wages in response to continued local currency depreciation and rising prices of other goods and services. The labor-to-sorghum terms of trade are expected to be 250-300 percent lower than last year and 100-150 percent lower than the five-year average.
- The recently initialed comprehensive peace agreement between the Sudanese government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front rebel alliance is expected to reduce conflict and contribute to stability in the conflict-affected zones of Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile as well as reducing tribal clashes in eastern Sudan and increase the voluntary return of IDPs throughout the outlook period. However, sporadic tribal clashes are expected in some parts of western and eastern Sudan. Low levels of new internal displacement are expected. Overall, the number of IDPs in Sudan is expected to remain around 1.5 million, mostly in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile states. The number of refugees from neighboring countries, primarily South Sudan, is expected to remain near one million through the outlook period.
- 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 scaleup 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.
- The above-average June to September 2020 rains has generated good pasture conditions in main grazing areas and improved livestock access to water, improving livestock body conditions. However, the reported wide expansion of cultivated areas into grazing lands in western and central Sudan, the closure of some main animal seasonal migratory routes, and flooding are expected to delay livestock movements to summer season grazing areas in the southern part of the country. This is likely to increase conflict between nomads and farmers in areas where late cultivation/replanting occurred, and animal graze before the harvest.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
Between October 2020 to January 2021, the main harvest season is expected to significantly improve access to food and income from own production, in-kind payments for agricultural labor, and in-kind support from relatives compared to the lean season (June to September). Likewise, income from agricultural labor and cash crops' sale will support market purchases of food when staple food prices typically decrease. Despite the expected improvements in household food access, overall food security outcomes are expected to remain worse than is typical driven by significantly above-average food prices, reduced household purchasing power, and high food and reconstruction needs impacted by the recent flooding. Nevertheless, food security outcomes for many areas will improve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2). However, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcome are likely among IDPs in SPLM-N controlled areas of South Kordofan, IDPs and conflict-affected households in Jebel Marra in Darfur, and among poor households in parts of North Darfur, North Kordofan, Red Sea, and Kassala states, as the high staple food prices and lower than normal purchasing power drive higher than usual food assistance needs.
February to May 2021 marks the post-harvest period and the beginning of the lean season. During the post-harvest period, food security outcomes typically stabilize but will begin to deteriorate in April as household food stocks begin to diminish. In-kind payments from agricultural labor, cash crops, and livestock are also typically at seasonal lows from February through May. More households will increase their dependency on market food purchases as staple food prices begin to increase seasonally. The anticipated above-average prices of food and non-food items, along with low household purchasing power-driven by the persistent macroeconomic difficulties and impact of the flooding on harvest and infrastructure, will continue to drive higher needs than in a typical year. IDPs and poor households in conflict-affected areas in parts of Jebel Marra of Darfur and SPLM-N area of South Kordofan, and increased numbers of poor households in parts of North Darfur, northern Kassala, and much of Red Sea states will begin to face food consumption gaps by April and likely be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Many areas in North Darfur and parts of North Kordofan, southern Blue Nile, northern Kassala, and the Red Sea will likely remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between February and May 2021.
EVENTS THAT MIGHT CHANGE THE OUTLOOK
Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario.
|Area||Event||Impact on food Security Outcomes|
|National||A significant increase in COVID-19 cases leading to the reinstatement of COVID-19 control measures including lockdown, and the closure of borders and land crossings.||This would disrupt typical income-earning opportunities for some populations, contributing to further deterioration of the macroeconomic situation and will affect access to food and income for most households. This is likely to increase the number of people in need and facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and worse outcomes.|
|National||Reintegration into the international economy; increased support from the international community; or significant improvements in macroeconomic conditions.||Improved macroeconomic conditions would improve availability, reduce the prices of essential food and non-food items, and improve household purchasing power. This is likely to reduce the number of people facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity outcomes.|
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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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