More than 1.1 million Sudanese children are hungry due to impact of COVID-19
Some 1.1 million children in Sudan are facing severe hunger, as the country is suffering from one of the worst food crises in recent years, according to a recent report by the international NGO Save the Children, based on the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis. The number of children with extremely low access to food—the emergency IPC level 4, the food security stage before famine—has doubled since 2019, due to a combination of spiralling food prices, inflation, and job losses exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, over 9.6 million people in Sudan are severely food insecure (IPC 3 and 4) and half of them are children, according to UNICEF’s estimates.
COVID-19 is compounding an already extreme situation for children in Sudan, where nearly 1 million of the country’s kids were displaced in 2019 and 3.6 million are out of school, following decades of conflict and underdevelopment. According to UNICEF, before the pandemic, approximately 120 children were already dying every day due to undernutrition and related causes. Sudan has the largest numbers of malnourished children in the world and the situation has not improved over the past 30 years. Over 38 per cent of children under age 5 are stunted (too short for their age), 17 per cent are wasted (too thin for their height) and 2.6 million children need humanitarian assistance.
The increasing hunger in Sudan requires an urgent scale up on humanitarian operations. The Transitional Government of Sudan initiated the Family Support Programme, with support of the World Food Programme (WFP), to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19-related restrictions on vulnerable families. The programme will provide 600,000 families—about 36 million people, nearly 80 per cent of the population—with US$5 per person per month. An estimated $582 million was pledged by donors for this programme during the Sudan Partnerships Conference that took place in Berlin on 25 June.
In 2020, humanitarian partners have reached over 2 million people every month with life-saving food assistance and are now calling on the international community to increase their support to the country. The 2020 Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) is only 34 per cent funded, as of 22 July, according to the Financial Tracking Service.