Situation Report
UNDP wheat
Farmers working to harvest more than 200 tons of wheat for the first time in the southern part of Sudan’s White Nile State, using farming machinery provided by Sweden and the Netherlands. Photo credit: UNDP Sudan.

COVID-19 impact on food security in Sudan

The number of registered COVID-19 cases continue increasing in Sudan, and the measures taken by the authorities to contain and reduce the spread of the pandemic have begun affecting the food security and livelihoods of vulnerable people. The measures restricting movements include lockdowns of cities and towns, closure of main markets, and suspension of inter-city and inter-state public transport.

The negative effects of COVID-19 on acute food insecurity are being driven by the indirect impacts of the pandemic, as governments and communities put in place control measures to suppress the spread of the virus, FEWS NET reported earlier. These control measures are restricting access to income-earning activities, resulting in real and immediate negative impacts on poor households’ abilities to cover daily food needs.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that the combined adverse impacts of COVID-19, coupled with the conventional food insecurity triggering factors, are being witnessed in all four-core dimensions of food security: availability, access, utilization and stability.

Food availability is affected due to labour shortage in the farms in addition to shortages and lack/or increased costs of transportation of food items. Access to food is affected because many of the micro-enterprises and small informal businesses were restricted or curtailed, causing loss of income sources that enable vulnerable people to purchase food and other livelihood necessities.

Meanwhile, food utilization is affected due to the restricted/limited food availability and access to food, whereby vulnerable families are resorting to low quality and quantity of foods that results in under-nutrition.

Above all, food stability is affected by restrictions and interruptions of the flow of goods and services that ensure safety nets and social protection measures of the vulnerable population; limited availability of water and sanitation services; disruptions of food chains and food production systems; and the depletion of food reserves that regulate and stabilize food availability, access and utilization.

Addressing the adverse impacts require major preparedness and response measures coupled with simultaneous multi-sectoral humanitarian, resilience -building and development interventions, FAO says.

According to the 2020 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO), 9.3 million people need humanitarian assistance, including 6.2 million people who need food and livelihood assistance. The Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) partners and sectors are working on an addendum to the 2020 HRP to reflect the new needs emerging as a result of the adverse impacts of COVID-19 on non-health sectors and additional priority funding to mitigate those impacts across food security, water and sanitation, education and other sectors. The addendum is expected to be finalized and submitted to donors by June.

As of 11 May 2020, the Sudan HRP is 21 per cent funded, according to the Financial Tracking System (FTS).

UNDP helps expand wheat cultivation in White Nile

In a bid to boost wheat production, create jobs for residents and refugees from South Sudan, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) spear-headed a commercial wheat farming project in White Nile State, contributing to efforts to tackle food security and livelihoods in the area that hosts over 260,000 refugees.

The UNDP-funded initiative, the first of its kind in the area, yielded about 202 metric tonnes of wheat showcasing one of the ways to boost local wheat production and reduce wheat import dependence.

In terms of main staple foods and food security, sorghum, wheat, and millet are the three main crops, according to the Sudan Staple Food Market Fundamentals by FEWS NET. Sudan produces surplus sorghum, is self-sufficient in millet, and is structurally deficit in wheat. For import-dependent crops like wheat, maize and rice, Sudan usually imports around 70 to 80 per cent of requirements, as local production is below the national demand and consumption. The 2019 FAO Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CFSAM) to Sudan report issued in February 2020 says that Sudan’s wheat production this year is estimated at 726,000 tonnes, about 25 per cent of the country’s total utilization of wheat (2.9 million tonnes). This year Sudan needs to import at least 2.2 million tonnes of wheat to meet requirements.

With irrigation canals and modern farming technology, UNDP is exploring and testing ways to increase domestic production in new, conflict-impacted locations, aiming to create jobs, foster peace and improve food supply.

For more on the UNDP innovative initiative please read the full story here: