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Political instability, conflict, and high prices drive food insecurity through the harvest period

  • Key Message Update
  • Sudan
  • November 2021
Political instability, conflict, and high prices drive food insecurity through the harvest period

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Humanitarian assistance needs remain high through November 2021, driven by political instability, above-average food prices, and reduced household purchasing power, along with the impact of increased conflict, tribal clashes, and protracted displacement in parts of Darfur, Kordofan, and Blue Nile state, along with Ethiopian and South Sudanese refugees. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely among IDPs in SPLM-N controlled areas of South Kordofan, IDPs and conflict-affected households in Jebel Marra, households recently affected by tribal clashes in North Darfur, urban poor households, and the most vulnerable poor households in parts of North Darfur, North Kordofan, and Red Sea states affected by low food stocks and poor purchasing power due to limited access to income and high food and non-food prices.

    • On November 21, 2021, Abdallah Hamdok was reinstated as Prime Minister, almost a month following the overthrow of the transitional civilian government on October 25. However, mass protests and civil disobedience campaigns have continued across the country. Following the overthrow, the declaration of a state of emergency and the dissolution of all boards of directors for government companies and national agricultural projects by the new government has disrupted ongoing economic reforms. Additionally, the continued demonstrations and lockdown in Khartoum and other towns have interrupted access to banks, cash transfers, and markets. Reduced access to income from daily labor and small business for urban poor households and increased prices of goods due to shortages has reduced household purchasing power.

    • In November, gasoline and diesel prices increased by 42 SDG to 362 SDG per liter and 347 SDG per liter, respectively. The price of locally produced and imported items increased by a similar rate between October and November. The SDG exchange rate has remained relatively stable, ranging between 439-446 SDG/USD in November, while the parallel market rate has traded at 440-448 SDG/USD. The poor macroeconomic situation is likely to persist through early 2022 as political instability continues and the economic support by the international community remains on hold. The high transportation costs are expected to be passed onto the consumer, reducing household purchasing power and household food access than is typical during the harvest period.

    • Through mid-November, attacks in West Darfur, North Darfur, and South Darfur resulted in fatalities, looting of property, displacement, and burning fires near many farms. Preliminary findings estimate over 9,800 people displaced, 34 fatalities, and 46 villages burned in Jebel Moon (West Darfur), over 2,700 people displaced and around ten fatalities in Serif and Tawilla (North Darfur), and over six fatalities and an unknown number displaced in Demso area (South Darfur). The burning of farms and grazing land and the looting of livestock have been confirmed across the affected areas. Attacks during the harvesting period are expected to impact the ongoing crop harvest and tobacco cultivation in affected areas, reducing agricultural labor opportunities and limiting household purchasing power and market access. According to UNOCHA and humanitarian actors, the priority needs for the impacted households are food, emergency shelter, and non-food items.

    • In October 2021, staple food prices are 60-120 percent above last year and almost five times higher than the five-year average. Sorghum prices in El Fasher, Nyala, Zalingei, Kassala, and Port Sudan increased by 35-70 percent compared to September, with millet prices increasing by 35-70 percent in most monitored markets. The increase in stable food prices is driven by seasonally reduced market supplies, increased demand for imported wheat, delays in the harvest due to insecurity and the high cost of labor, and high production and transportation costs. Following the reopening of the ports, there is some stability and a slight increase in wheat flour supplies; however, bread prices in commercial bakeries remain two times above respective prices for August and September 2021. In Khartoum state, a bread loaf is 40-50 SDG compared to 20 SDG in August-September 2021, with poor households shifting to sorghum flour as a substitute. Bread prices are higher in other states due to the high transportation costs of imported wheat flour. Although the harvest will likely result in seasonal price declines, staple food prices will likely remain 200-350 percent above the five-year average through the beginning of the next lean season in April/May 2022.

    • According to UNHCR, there are around 70,500 Ethiopian refugees in Sudan in November, with around 50,160 Ethiopian refugees in eastern Sudan. This follows a slight decline in the number of refugees crossing into eastern Sudan compared to the end of October. As of November 5, 2021, there are around 6,000 refugees in the Hamdayet Transit Centre and around 2,300 refugees in the Qemant asylum seekers. The remaining refugees are located in Khartoum and other states in eastern Sudan. UNHCR and partners continue to scale up contingency measures in response to the developing situation in Ethiopia, which could spark a new influx of refugees. These measures include a follow-up assessment of Fau 5 in Um Algura locality, Aj Jazirah state, as a potential site to accommodate non-Tigrayan new arrivals.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography. Learn more here.

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