Khartoum, Sudan, July 24, 2023 – The ongoing conflict in Sudan has severely disrupted production of crops, leading to a critical threat to food security in the region. Following 100 days of escalated violence in Sudan, over 19 million people; 40% of the population, are already experiencing hunger. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) warns that Sudan is on track to face an entirely man-made food crisis in the coming months, which coupled with global food price inflation, could potentially escalate into an even greater catastrophe early next year.
Eatizaz Yousif, country director of IRC Sudan said,
“The combination of disrupted farming including sowing and harvesting, limited access to essential resources like fertilisers, seeds, and the displacement of over 3 million people has created a perfect storm for a looming food security crisis. The consequences of these disruptions are becoming increasingly evident, with significant reductions in crop yields and a scarcity of essential food supplies across the country. The cumulative effects of continued disrupted agricultural seasons and limited food availability will lead to further malnutrition, starvation, and an increase in the prevalence of preventable diseases. Vulnerable populations, including children, women, and the elderly, will bear the brunt of this man-made catastrophe. The conflict has also exacerbated the existing socio-economic challenges faced by the country. Access to fundamental necessities such as food, clean water, healthcare, and education has become severely limited, leaving the 47 million Sudanese people in a state of extreme vulnerability.”
This crisis extends beyond Sudan’s borders, as the country traditionally exports various food commodities to neighbouring nations. The disruption in agricultural production will not only affect Sudanese citizens but also create a ripple effect, leading to food shortages in the wider region, destabilising neighbouring countries and straining international aid efforts.
The IRC calls upon the UN to re-energize its High-Level Task Force on Preventing Famine, prioritising countries in East Africa at risk. The task force’s membership should be expanded to include international financial institutions, local and international NGOs and civil society groups, countries like Sudan which are affected by food insecurity, and leading donors like USAID and emerging donors. The HLTF should focus on unlocking the political will to respond to a famine risk, mobilising investments at scale to respond to early warning systems, and coordinating collective action across the international community. A peaceful and secure environment is paramount to enable farmers to resume their agricultural activities without fear or disruption. It is vital that civilians are protected from harm and any form of abuse. There are increasing cases of abuse on women particularly and they are unacceptable.
Barriers to humanitarian response also need to be dismantled. This includes all barriers on movement of essential humanitarian supplies, movement and safety of humanitarian personnel, speeding up various administrative processes to further enhance speedy humanitarian response.
Additionally, efforts must be made to ensure access of adequate food aid and nutrition support to vulnerable communities, particularly children, pregnant women, and the elderly. Increasing the ability of acutely malnourished children to access lifesaving treatment by adopting simplified approaches that are effective and efficient. In Sudan, approximately 3 million children under five suffer from malnutrition annually. Despite a proven treatment existing via a fortified peanut paste, this lifesaving treatment does not reach 80% of children in need due to an overly complex and clinical approach to treatment and lack of sustained funding. To solve this problem, the IRC has developed a simplified treatment protocol, using a single product and simplified diagnosis and dosing, that can be delivered by community health workers.
In Sudan, the IRC supports people impacted by conflict and crisis, including women, children, the elderly, persons with disabilities, refugees, mixed populations and host communities. We provide an integrated health, nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) program and also provide child protection services and comprehensive women and girls’ protection and empowerment services including to gender-based violence (GBV) survivors.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic well being, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC works in more than 40 countries and in 28 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.