Number of Sudanese Facing Hunger Doubles as Food Crisis Deepens Amidst Ongoing Conflict
The number of Sudanese facing hunger has doubled over the past year.

The number of people facing hunger in Sudan has doubled over the past year, with nearly over 42% of the country’s 46 million people facing high levels of food insecurity, a senior Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative in the country said Friday.

“The food situation in the country is deeply alarming,” Adam Yao, FAO deputy representative in Sudan, told a press briefing in Geneva.

According to the latest IPC [Integrated food security report] the July-September 2023 projection is nearly double the number of food insecure people compared to the last analysis conducted in May 2022, said Yao, speaking remotely from Port Sudan after a tour of the affected regions.

“That means 20.3 million people in Sudan face a high level of acute food insecurity, making this one of the most food insecure countries on the planet.”

Some 14 million people, or 29% of the population, are at a food “crisis” level, he added, while more than 6.2 million people are a few steps away from famine.

In some south and western states, including parts of Darfur, more than half of the population is facing acute hunger, he said. “The situation is critical….  Families are facing unimaginable suffering and I’ve seen this with my own eyes.  They are destitute; they need help.”

Adam Yao, FAO deputy representative in Sudan, speaking to a Geneva UN press briefing from Port Sudan.

Emergency access ‘increasingly complex’ 

Since the conflict between rebel and government forces began in April, roughly 1.6 million people across Sudan have received World Food Programme assistance, with roughly 150,000 people on the outskirts of Khartoum currently receiving aid.

But access everywhere remains challenging. Getting emergency food supplies to people trapped in conflict-ridden rural regions is becoming “increasingly complex,” said Eddie Rowe, Country Director of the World Food Programme (WFP) for Sudan, also speaking from Port Sudan.

He described the situation around Darfur as “catastrophic” with women and children, abandoned by husbands and fathers who had been killed, injured or gone missing, too scared to flee to safer areas. Only last week, WFP reached West Darfur for the first time and assisted over 15,000 people, via a route from Chad, he said.

Supporting small farmers

On the brighter side, FAO had nearly completed its ambitious goal of distributing emergency crop seed to an estimated one million farmers. “With over 650,000 farmers reached, the 2023 November harvest is well positioned to meet the cereal needs of millions of people across Sudan,” Yao said. Beyond the current campaign, FAO aims to reach 1.3 million pastoralists with livestock services and inputs to strengthen the nutrition and food security of 6.5 million people.

The success of the campaign is a reminder of the importance of agriculture as a cost-efficient frontline humanitarian intervention to reduce vulnerability and strengthen food and nutrition security, Yao stressed. It also underscored the importance of localised solutions to hunger and food insecurity.

Image Credits: World Food Programme.

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