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About 4.6 million people are food insecure in the Sudan. Above-average harvests and good pastures by the end of 2014 helped to improve food security in much of the country, though food insecurity is expected to affect millions of Sudanese in 2015. In the coming year, the Sudan will face steep rises in staple food prices, floods destroying field crops, pest infestations, continued blocking of internal and transboundary transhumance routes, localized disease outbreaks, as well as environmental factors such as desert encroachment and soil degradation. In response, FAO is supporting efforts to increase short-term food production, while building the foundations of longer-term food security.
An estimated 80 percent of the country’s rural population relies on agriculture-based production for their food and income. In some areas, however, production is severely constrained by persistent insecurity, a lack of quality agricultural inputs, unpredictable rainfall, restricted livestock movement and over-stretched natural resources. In 2015, an estimated 5.4 million will be targeted for humanitarian assistance across the country. Vulnerable families in the Sudan need help to increase food production in the face of further displacement, insecurity and seasonal floods and dry spells.
In conflict-affected areas of South Kordofan and Darfur, new waves of displacement continue to undermine food security as families are forced to abandon agricultural land, leaving them reliant on external assistance. Some 3.1 million people are internally displaced in the Sudan, with 2.5 million displaced in Darfur alone. More than 2 million people are acutely malnourished, and over two thirds of children in Darfur are stunted owing to malnutrition. The conflict in South Sudan places further stress on resources as more than 120 000 South Sudanese refugees are in need of humanitarian assistance in the Sudan.
Investing in local production
Persistent insecurity and continued constraints on resources mean farmers cannot fully recover and are always on the precipice of food insecurity. By training farmers in improved crop production techniques, FAO has been assisting them to improve their yields. Assessments of local seed systems and investments in community seed production are ways that FAO is helping ensure that quality, locally adapted seeds are available to farmers at the right time. Seeds and tools are also being provided to farmers unable to access these inputs owing to displacement in the wake of conflict or crop failure.
Stronger, healthier herds
The Sudan’s livestock owners are also facing serious difficulties. Erratic rains mean poor or no pasture and water for animals. Blocked transhumance routes in the country and at international borders have helped increased the spread of already endemic diseases. In response to these challenges, FAO has been rehabilitating hafirs (small water reservoirs) that capture and store water. Herders thus have a safe source of water and pasture for their animals during the dry season. By training local people to treat and vaccinate animals in their communities, and providing equipment to local laboratories, FAO is strengthening local animal health services.
Providing new opportunities
FAO is also helping people to expand their livelihood opportunities, making them better able to cope with crises. Ex-combatants, displaced persons and women are learning business skills, food processing techniques (cheese-making, fish preservation), and other skills to enhance their incomes. At the same time, FAO is supporting community-based conflict management and negotiation, such as campaigns to promote peaceful co existence between farmers and herders, focusing on their mutual interests in protecting crops and livestock transhumance routes. In addition to decreasing crop destruction by livestock, the campaigns have helped restored trust, community dialogue and dispute resolution through inter-ethnic village committees. Further initiatives include environmental activities aimed at improving natural resource sharing practices, such as training women in the manufacture, use and sale of fuel-efficient stoves to provide a source of income.
Moving from response to recovery
FAO Sudan is helping vulnerable rural communities, including herding, fishing and farming families, IDPs and returnees, to regain their livelihoods and strengthen their food security. Emphasis is placed on durable solutions and strengthening local systems as a means of reducing aid dependency and facilitating early recovery, as well as improving preparedness on the ground.