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An estimated 3.2 million people are food insecure in Sudan today. With 80 percent of Sudan’s rural population relying on agriculture for their food and income, the sector plays a critical role in helping families cope with and rebuild their livelihoods after crises. Variable rainfall patterns, recurrent outbreaks of conflict and high food prices have left the most vulnerable people struggling to access enough food. FAO is supporting efforts to increase short-term food production, while building the foundations of longer-term food security.
Investing in local production
Dependence on rainfed production has left most of Sudan’s farmers vulnerable to the effects of increasingly variable rains. Poor rains in 2011/12 resulted in low yields and many families saw their food stocks run out earlier than usual – in March/April instead of May/June. While above-average rains in 2012/13 will contribute to a better harvest, flash floods in some areas washed out thousands of hectares of crops. Repeated crises 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 helping them to improve their yields. Assessments of local seed systems and investing in community seed production are ways that FAO is helping ensure that quality, locally adapted seeds are available to farmers at the right time. FAO is also providing seeds and tools to farmers who may be unable to access these inputs because of displacement in the wake of conflict or crop failure.
Stronger, healthier herds
Sudan’s livestock owners face similar difficulties. Erratic rains mean poor or no pasture and water for animals. Flash floods in 2012 have killed livestock and can increase the spread of already endemic diseases. In 2011, the closure of migratory routes meant that 8 million animals were gathered in smaller areas – in the wrong place at the wrong time − risking diseases spreading, damaging fragile natural resources and triggering conflicts with sedentary farmers. 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. At the same time, FAO is supporting community-based conflict management and negotiation. 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 people and women are learning food processing techniques (cheese-making, fish preservation), business techniques and other skills to improve their incomes. At the same time, FAO is supporting community-based conflict management and negotiation through improved natural resource sharing, such as fuel-efficient stoves which use less coal and provide a source of income for women who make and sell the stoves.
Moving from response to recovery
Through two major, multiyear programmes – the European Union-funded Sudan Productive Capacity Recovery Programme – Capacity Building component and the Canadian International Development Agency-funded Integrated Food Security Project – FAO is helping to build resilient, agriculture-based livelihoods in Sudan.