Sudan | FAO and Belgium assist food-insecure farming households impacted by the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and floods

The Sudan | FAO and Belgium assist food-insecure farming households impacted by COVID-19 and floods

23/11/2020

The Sudan is suffering one of the world’s largest protracted humanitarian crises. About 9.3 million people in the Sudan were already in need of humanitarian assistance prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and floods. Since the economic shock of South Sudan’s secession in 2011, the Sudanese economy has been in a downward spiral suffering from structural trade and fiscal deficits, mass poverty, high inflation, high levels of inequality, untargeted fuel subsidies, limited public expenditures on basic services and low fiscal effort that relied on regressive indirect taxes. The COVID-19 pandemic has further aggravated and compounded the already fragile situation, which in addition to the economic crisis, conflict, displacement and a lack of basic services, is exacerbated by climate-induced shocks. 

Beginning in July 2020 and continuing through mid-September, torrential rains and flooding combined with the historical overflow of the River Nile and its tributaries have affected 17 out of 18 states in the Sudan, with the exception of South Darfur, causing devastating damage alongside riverbanks in the northern, central and eastern regions of the country. This has caused widespread damage in a number of sectors, including and most significantly the agriculture sector. 

According to the joint needs assessment carried out by FAO, the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the Ministries of Production and Economic Resources, approximately 2.2 million ha of cropland have been damaged. Horticulture, seeds, tools, equipment, machinery and agriculture-related infrastructure were either lost or damaged in the disaster. Affected communities have begun to borrow money and sell their productive assets to access food. Levels of debt are escalating and affected communities need to access cash as soon as possible to repay their debts.

The recent floods have exacerbated and intensified the food insecurity, malnutrition and livelihoods impoverishment of already vulnerable populations and further put them at risk of falling into more severe phases of food insecurity – such as IPC Phase 4 (Emergency) and Phase 5 (Famine).

Blue Nile, North Darfur and Sennar states are among the states with the highest level of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 and 4). They are also amongst the states most affected by the floods. Blue Nile is the second most affected state with 617 419 ha destroyed, followed by Sennar and Kassala with 112 579 and 109 048 ha respectively. Since more than 70 percent of rural people in Blue Nile, North Darfur and Sennar states depend on agricultural production as the primary source of their livelihoods, the replacement of agricultural inputs, rehabilitation of irrigation schemes, as well as provision of support to livestock and fishery subsectors is crucial to ensure that affected populations can continue agricultural activities in the coming seasons. FAO is adapting its humanitarian and resilience programming to ensure the continued delivery of assistance where there are already high levels of need, while meeting new needs emerging from the impact of the floods and COVID-19. This includes providing smallholder farmers and pastoralists with key inputs to continue to produce food for their households and communities. Stabilizing incomes and access to food, as well as preserving ongoing livelihood and food production assistance to the most acutely food insecure communities is crucial.

Through the Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities (SFERA), the Government of Belgium contributed USD 500 000 to FAO to mitigate the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent floods on the food security of vulnerable farming households in Blue Nile, North Darfur and Sennar states. With Belgium’s generous support, FAO will assist 1 700 households (8 500 people) by providing them with a COVID-19 protective kit and training on transmission prevention measures to enable them to safely restart their livelihood activities. Households will receive season-sensitive agricultural inputs, accompanied by cash transfers and trainings in good agricultural practices, to improve their food security and nutrition. Households will also receive assistance to rehabilitate their irrigation systems damaged by the floods