Skip to main content

Conflict and below-average harvests sustain high needs during the harvest season

  • Key Message Update
  • Sudan
  • November 2023
Conflict and below-average harvests sustain high needs during the harvest season

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Humanitarian needs remain high during the main harvesting season, driven by eight months of fighting between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), below-average harvests, high food prices, limited income-earning opportunities, and reduced physical and financial access to markets. Widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persist across most of the country with Emergency (IPC Phase 4) expected, particularly in urban localities directly affected by the fighting in Greater Darfur, Greater Kordofan, and Khartoum. Urban conflict-affected populations are experiencing severe disruption to income sources, markets, and trade flows, as well as looting and destruction of assets and property. Of highest concern are populations in El Geneina of West Darfur and in Omdurman of Khartoum – In El Geneina, severe atrocities were again reported in early November, with the massacre of over 1,300 mostly Masalit men and injury to an additional 2,000 people, sexual assault of Masalit women, abduction of children, and displacement of thousands; In Omdurman, the heavy presence of RSF, intensification of shelling, and targeting of civilians has greatly restricted household movement with reports of some neighborhoods under siege-like conditions resulting in food shortages. 
    • In November, the overall incidence of violent conflict declined marginally in Khartoum, but the intensity remained high with a shift towards increased shelling and artillery fire, particularly in heavily contested Omdurman. On November 20, Jabal Awlia in southern Khartoum was seized by RSF and the main bridge across the Nile was damaged. On November 11, the Shambat Bridge connecting Omdurman and downtown Khartoum was also destroyed, further impeding the movement of people and goods. Media reporting and FEWS NET information indicate high reliance on community sharing of food and remittances particularly in Omdurman, although some neighborhoods are reportedly inaccessible. In Greater Darfur and Greater Kordofan, the RSF has expanded its territorial control, seizing four of the five capitals in Darfur, and expanding attacks to some semi-urban areas. The fighting continues to involve the targeting of civilians and massive looting and destruction of both public and private properties including hospitals, government institutions, and markets. An increasing number of tribal, ethnic, and communal armed groups are also engaging in the conflict across Greater Darfur and Greater Kordofan amid the growing security vacuum. Furthermore, significant damage has been done to some oil fields in West Kordofan and to the main oil refinery in Khartoum, likely to aggravate fuel shortages and rising transportation costs. The RSF is also positioning to move towards previously relatively calm locations in eastern Sudan, updates on which will be provided in FEWS NET’s December report. 
    • According to DTM Sudan, an estimated 6.7 million people have been displaced inside and outside Sudan since the start of the conflict in April 2023, the largest displacement crisis globally. Of these, 5.4 million individuals have been internally displaced, with 65 percent originating from Khartoum State and fleeing predominantly to 7 states in the north, east, and southeast of the country. An additional 34 percent fled from locations within Greater Darfur and have largely remained displaced in the Darfur region. The highest proportions of the newly displaced people have been observed in South Darfur (13%), River Nile (12%), East Darfur (11%), Al Jazirah (9%), and North Darfur (8%). Sudanese refugees also continue to cross international borders at unprecedented rates. Of the 1.4 million that have fled the country, 38 percent crossed into Chad, 29 percent to South Sudan, and 24 percent to Egypt. In West Darfur, the atrocities committed in El Geneina led to some of the highest cross-border movements within the course of a few days – while UNCHR reported registering 8,000 people, it acknowledged the figure was likely much higher due to the challenge of registering so many, with some media reporting upwards of 20,000 displaced to Chad. Those fleeing conflict have also reported experiencing high levels of violence, while reportedly others are being prevented from leaving. This has been reported in both West Darfur and parts of Khartoum and constitutes another grave violation of the Jeddah agreement.  
    • Humanitarians continue to deliver assistance in extremely challenging and dangerous conditions. In November, WFP reported reaching 1.8 million people with food aid, cash transfers, and nutrition assistance. Two convoys were reported to have crossed the border with Chad, one reaching an estimated 95,000 people in West Darfur, and the other reaching 105,000 in Central Darfur. In Khartoum, the first convoy in three months reached the outskirts of Omdurman and Al Thalwa, reaching 107,000 people. However, humanitarian assistance continues to face serious obstacles including persistent insecurity, threats, roadblocks, financial exploitation, politicization, looting, and bureaucratic hurdles resulting in inconsistent and limited deliveries. The agency is seeking to increase cash-based assistance particularly in hard-to-reach and provided cash assistance to 90,000 people in November alone.
    • The harvest of millet and sorghum is currently underway and is expected to be below last year and below the five-year average. According to recent analysis by NASA Harvest/Arizona State University in collaboration with FEWS NET/USGS, the cropped area in the irrigation schemes of Al Jazirah and Rahad is estimated to be 36 percent lower than last year, translating to a reduction in cropped land of approximately 424,000 hectares. In El Gedarif, a major area for semi-mechanized production, the reduction is estimated at 25 percent, which translates to a loss of approximately 1 million hectares compared to last year. While information is limited for other areas of the country, it is expected that areas proximate to heavy fighting will have below-average harvests with some experiencing significantly below-average harvests. 
    • Cultivation of the winter wheat is ongoing in the main wheat production areas across the country in the main irrigation schemes of Al Jazirah, Halfa Al Jadeeda and Al Rahad schemes. Targeted areas this year is estimated at about one million feddan (420,000 hectares). Most of the targeted area is under the main-irrigated schemes in addition to areas under small-scale cultivations in Northern, River Nile, and White Nile states. The area cultivated as of end November is reportedly far below targeted areas as cultivation is constrained by shortage and high cost of agricultural inputs, fertilizers, seeds, fuel, and agricultural finance. Hotter than typical weather conditions are among the difficulties facing the winter season cultivation. Overall, below-average cultivation is expected this year.
    • Key trade routes and market functionality around the country remain seriously disrupted due to conflict and insecurity, with the main routes into and out of the capital mostly inaccessible. The only roads linking Khartoum to most of the rest of the country are along the Dongola-Omdurman route. In the east, routes face some disruption and reduced activity from Port Sudan down to El Gedarif, Sennar, and Wad Madani, but deteriorate further south into Blue Nile and parts of White Nile. The primary routes from central Sudan to Greater Kordofan and Greater Darfur and all routes between Darfur states also remain severely disrupted due to ongoing insecurity. 
    • Staple food prices continue to vary across markets, driven by the impact of the conflict on market functionality and trade flows; the deterioration of economic conditions characterized by high inflation rates and depreciation of the local currency; and high production and transportation costs. This is further aggravated by expectations of below-average harvests. Prices remain significantly elevated in heavily affected or inaccessible areas such as Omdurman market in Khartoum and Kadugli and El Obeid markets in North Kordofan, while remaining largely stable in the relatively secured areas in eastern Sudan. Sorghum and millet prices in markets in the west have been continuously high and rising, given that inventories are tighter than usual due to trade interruption. In Greater Darfur and Greater Kordofan, cereal prices in November were either slightly below or similar to that of September, the peak lean season, despite harvests. Wheat prices have remained relatively stable in recent months in the country’s main wheat production markets of El Damer and Dongola due to the relatively better harvest from the last March/April 2023 harvest. However, average grain prices remain 200-250 percent above the five-year average driven by the high cost of production and local currency devaluation. 

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Sudan Key Message Update November 2023: Conflict and below-average harvests sustain high needs during the harvest season, 2023.

    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.

    Get the latest food security updates in your inbox Sign up for emails

    The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

    Jump back to top