Sudan Humanitarian Update, February 2022
More than 18 million people are likely to be affected by localized dry spells and crop failure, conflict and the economic crisis and need urgent humanitarian assistance.
The total production of main cereal crops (sorghum, millet and wheat) in 2021/22 is estimated at 5 million tonnes. This is 30 per cent lower than the previous five-year average and 35 per cent below last year’s production (FAO).
There has been an increase in the number of requests issued by some state authorities for incentives and fees to be paid by humanitarian organizations.
Insecurity affecting access to affected people in some parts of Darfur.
Sudan continues to face a macroeconomic crisis. Continued increases in the prices of food and transportation and the local food basket are expected to continue impacting the purchasing power of poor households and likely drive an increase in the inflation rate, according to FEWS NET. The political crisis during the reporting period severely impacted the Sudanese economy, with challenges in exports and imports, blockades of national routes and deteriorating conditions disrupting market systems and food value chains. These factors continued to have a negative impact on people in need in February.
According to the World Food Programme (WFP) Consolidated Approach to Reporting Indicators of Food Security (CARI), the forecasted scenario indicates that 33 per cent of the general population are food insecure during the first quarter of 2022, and 39 per cent will be food insecure by the third quarter. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the performance of the 2021/22 agricultural season is poor. FAO estimate that 5.6 million people are affected by the dry spells in addition to the 9.8 million people that are food insecure due to the current economic crisis, as well as fuel and price hikes. In most states, the rain level in the current season is below the level of the previous season with long dry spells expected in July in all cropping areas, with localized dry spells in August and September negatively affecting crop growth. The dry spell and the subsequent crop failure have affected over 5.6 million people in Blue Nile, Central Darfur, East Darfur, Gedaref, Kassala, North Darfur, North Kordofan, Red Sea, Sennar, South Darfur, South Kordofan, West Darfur, and White Nile. More than 22 million people (50 per cent of Sudan’s population) live in the 115 dry spell-affected localities.
During the month, there have been reports of the return of Sudanese refugees from Ethiopia to Al Kurmuk, Blue Nile, following military advancements into the Tongo refugee camp in Ethiopia. Since the beginning of February, an estimated 739 Sudanese nationals have reportedly returned to Sudan through different entry points in Al Kurmuk locality. The official border crossing remains closed. A joint team from the Humanitarian Affairs Commission (HAC), Commissioner for Refugees (COR) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) went to Al Kurmuk to register the returnees. While UNHCR teams go on mission, COR has had staff on the ground registering the returnees since mid-February. Al Kurmuk has an endemic water problem, and as more returnees arrive the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) needs must be addressed by humanitarian partners. UNHCR has built two temporary toilets at the transit centre, but more are needed. The water supply also needs to be improved to be able to supply increasing demands.
In 2022, humanitarian partners aim to provide humanitarian assistance and support to 10.9 million of the most vulnerable people at the cost of US$1.9 billion. As of 10 March, thanks to several donor partners, the 2022 Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) received $148.6 million, which is 7.6 per cent of the requirement.
Humanitarian organizations in Sudan advocate for early and expedient funding for humanitarian operations as conflict, the economic crisis, inflation, food insecurity and other challenges increase the needs of vulnerable people.
In this regard, the European Commission (EC) on 20 February announced the allocation of €40 million (US$45.46 million) for humanitarian assistance to Sudan as part of the €294.2 million ($334.36 million) humanitarian funding to assist vulnerable populations in East and Southern Africa in 2022.
Dry spells and crop failure puts further strain on people in need
The combined effects of conflict, economic crisis, and poor harvests are significantly affecting people’s access to food and will likely double the number of people facing acute hunger in Sudan to more than 18 million people by September 2022, according to FAO and WFP (statement). According to a joint rapid needs assessment by the FAO and the respective state governments carried out in December 2021, Kassala, Red Sea and North Darfur are amongst the most affected states, while North Kordofan, Central Darfur, Blue Nile, South Kordofan and South Darfur have also been affected by dry spells. The crop failure is due to erratic and lower rainfalls last year, high agricultural input and production costs and sub-national violence preventing farmers from farming their lands and exacerbates the already precarious food security situation of vulnerable people. This is further compounded by the impact of the economic crisis, high inflation and diminishing purchasing power of people in Sudan.
According to the FAO, the total production of main cereal crops (sorghum, millet and wheat) in 2021/22 is estimated at 5 million tonnes. This is 30 per cent lower than the previous five-year average and 35 per cent below last year’s production. The sorghum supply shortage estimated to be 1.3 million metric tonnes is the highest in Sudan since the 1980s. The available 3.5 million tons of sorghum from last season’s harvest will cover the needs for people’s food and livestock feed for 10 months. The projected wheat production is estimated at 584,600 tons and would cover two and half months of Sudan’s wheat requirement. The estimated deficit of cereals (sorghum, wheat, millet) for the country is 4.3 million tons. By mid-January 2022, staple food prices continued increasing atypically in most markets, while remaining stable or slightly decreasing in other markets. Staple food prices are between 100-200 per cent higher than last year and three to four times greater than the five-year average. Cereal prices typically stabilize by February following the completion of the harvest, but are likely to begin increasing in April-earlier than normal.
FAO and state governments in the affected states indicate that there is an urgent need to provide food assistance until next growing season. In addition to rehabilitating existing natural ponds and hafirs, the assessment recommends providing water storage containers where needed. Preparation for the coming rainy season by providing farming inputs and tools using resilient responding practices (types of crops, water harvesting, proper storage if there is surplus, etc.) is essential. Provision of animal feed, like crop residues of sorghum and groundnut from surrounding areas to minimize the animal feed gap, is also recommended. Humanitarian partners will use a multisectoral approach to respond to this crisis to ensure that people receive the assistance they need and that the new caseload is incorporated in their programming for the year. Short to medium-term emergency life-saving assistance will be provided to prevent further deterioration of the humanitarian situation. Food, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and the protection sector will provide life-saving assistance in the 115 affected localities. Provision of food assistance, access to water for domestic use and livestock, nutrition services for under-five children, pregnant and lactating women, and access to protection services will be prioritized in the short-term. Humanitarian partners will also provide medium-term assistance to prevent further deterioration of the humanitarian situation. This includes the provision of agricultural inputs, provision of veterinary services, preventative nutritional assistance, strengthening nutrition surveillance, and rehabilitation of WASH facilities.
On 31 January, the WFP in Sudan said that one in four people in Sudan are facing acute hunger. According to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) released on May 2021, about 6 million people across Sudan are estimated to be food insecure between October 2021 and February 2022. The next IPC assessment will be done in May 2022. The impact of the dry spells is likely to see an increase in the number of food-insecure people.
Bureaucratic procedures for INGOs and the UN are increasing
Following the military coup in October 2021, there has been an increase in the number of requests issued by some state authorities for incentives and fees to be paid by humanitarian organizations. This has been witnessed in Blue Nile, Central Darfur, Gedaref, North Darfur, South Darfur, South Kordofan, West Kordofan and White Nile states. Requests range from an increase in existing incentives to fees for new services. These new requests will increase operational costs for humanitarian partners and add to bureaucratic and administrative impediments.
There has been a shift in some states from a requirement from HAC clearance, in line with the October 2019 agreement to multiple stamps from Military Intelligence and General Intelligence Services. This is occurring in Central Darfur, Red Sea, Kassala, West Kordofan and South Kordofan.
Access concerns in Darfur
Tensions and conflicts continue to be reported among various communities in parts of Darfur, however, no civilian displacement was reported in February 2022. The number of security incidents increased, with 27 incidents reported in February compared to 21 in January, according to UNDSS.
In February, humanitarian organizations were unable to access communities in some parts of West and Central Darfur due to insecurity. In West Darfur, some of the people displaced due to conflict in 2021 have yet to receive humanitarian assistance due to continuing conflict.
Despite challenges, humanitarian organizations were able to reach 5.6 million people in Darfur in 2021 with some form of humanitarian assistance.
COVID-19 cases decline
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the country seems to be on the decline with the Sudan Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) confirming 3,250 COVID-19 cases in February compared to 11,383 cases in January. Overall, 61,569 people across the country tested positive for COVID-19, including 3,912 deaths between 3 January 2020 and 4 March 2022.
Sudan’s COVID-19 vaccination target is 20 per cent of the population by June 2022 and 52 per cent by the end of 2022. As of 24 March, a total of 6.13 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administrated across the country bringing the percentage of people fully vaccinated to 5.8 per cent.
Sudan joined the COVAX facility in December 2020 and received the first shipment of AstraZeneca vaccine on 3 March 2021. Since then, vaccines have continued to arrive in the country. On 16 February, a shipment of 604,800 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines donated by the Spanish Government arrived in Khartoum. On 11 February, the United States dispatched 774,540 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
2022 Sudan Refugee Response Plan to assist over one million refugees and people from host communities
On 21 February, UNHCR and partners issued the 2022 Sudan Country Refugee Response Plan (here) targeting 925,000 refugees and benefitting 231,235 people from host communities at a cost of $517 million. Over 1.2 million refugees are expected to be in Sudan by the end of 2022. Refugees will need multi-sectoral interventions to address their needs and to improve self-reliance over the long-term. Investments in local infrastructure and strengthening of gender-sensitive education, health, nutrition and WASH services are also needed to ensure that local services have the capacity to serve the increasing needs of refugees and host communities. This will allow both communities to coexist peacefully.
Sudan is the second largest asylum country in Africa. The country hosts refugees and asylum-seekers mostly from South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Syria, Yemen and other countries such as Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The largest refugee populations in the country are South Sudanese and Ethiopian refugees. Sudan is one of the main hosting countries for South Sudanese refugees with over 800,000 refugees in the country, of whom 3,500 arrived in January 2022. In addition, Sudan hosts over 73,300 Ethiopian refugees across the country, of whom 51,000 refugees arrived in eastern Sudan (Kassala and Gedaref) and Blue Nile State since November 2020 following violence in the Tigray region.
Approximately 70 per cent of Sudan’s refugee population live outside of camps, with local communities which are hosting refugees on their land in towns and villages. This includes refugees in urban areas and more than 100 settlements across the country. Many out-of-camp settlements are in remote and underdeveloped areas, where resources, infrastructure and basic services are very limited.