The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2009: Sudan

The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2009: Sudan
Nov 2008

Over the past few years, the Sudan has experienced considerable change. In eastern and Southern Sudan, peace accords have led to greater stability and encouraged the return of millions of IDPs and refugees to their places of origin. In the Greater Darfur region, continued violence and unrest have caused the displacement of many more people. Humanitarian and recovery needs thus vary greatly throughout the Sudan. Vulnerable households, already struggling with displacement or resettlement and coping with increased population pressures, have also faced natural disasters, disease outbreaks, soaring costs and lack of vital services in 2008.

The humanitarian crisis in Darfur, which houses the largest aid operation in the world, has intensified markedly in 2008. With a total population of six million, one-quarter of Darfuris have been displaced and three-quarters require relief or recovery assistance. The violence has killed hundreds of thousands and destroyed property, infrastructure and access to basic services. Despite volatile insecurity, humanitarian indicators have improved to some degree owing to the concentration and perseverance of aid efforts.

In 2005, the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between northern and southern factions formally ended over two decades of war that claimed two million lives and uprooted four million people. Relative stability has enabled half of the displaced population to return since 2004, far exceeding the south’s absorptive capacity after decades of structural and economic decline. Pockets of insecurity remain within and surrounding the region’s confines due to border disputes, tribal clashes and the proliferation of small arms.

Following the outbreak of violence between the Sudan Armed Forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in May 2008, some 50 000 people fled Abyei to Southern Sudan.  Abyei’s borders remain long disputed as they fall between the Sudan’s north-south boundary and the region is rich in natural resources. The elections scheduled in 2009 bear on the area’s administration and may heighten tensions. Unexploded ordnance, loss of homes and limited access to vital services, such as water and healthcare, have increased vulnerability in the area.

Needs remain high in Blue Nile, where life-expectancy for women is the lowest (51.2 years) in the Sudan. Southern areas had been cut off from humanitarian assistance prior to the signing of the CPA, such as Kumuk, which remains difficult to access and in a state of humanitarian emergency. Despite progress towards political unification of Southern Kordofan since the signing of the CPA, the dividends of peace remain obscure in some regions. Prospects of a failed harvest following extended drought have sounded the alarm of an imminent food crisis.

Security and disarmament have improved markedly in Gedaref, Kassala and Red Sea States since the signing of the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement in 2006. However, Kassala and Red Sea have the highest chronic malnutrition rates in the country. The problems of food insecurity, inadequate harvests and poverty are exacerbated by elevated influxes of IDPs and refugees through porous borders with Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Challenges facing food security and livelihoods

Decades of war, insecurity, natural disasters, land disputes and displacement have devastated the livelihoods of millions across the Sudan. Approximately 87 percent of the population depends on agriculture as a means to generate income and supplement household food requirements. Agricultural land, seeds, tools and equipment were damaged or lost during conflict, leaving rural households without the necessary means to resume their way of life or even subsistence.

In Darfur, crop production already lies below household subsistence levels. Mass population movements caused by conflict combined with poor rainfall have caused a reduction in yields and the overexploitation of the natural resources upon which rural livelihoods depend. Coping strategies to mobilize capital related to brick-making, charcoal production, firewood and grass collection rely on scarce and unsustainable resources. These activities also place women at greater risk of gender-based violence.

Lack of veterinary support has increased livestock morbidity, as herders in transit with their animals pass through disease-prevalent corridors. Flooding during July and August in Southern Sudan triggered animal diseases, and reduced livestock and crop productivity. In drought-afflicted and resource-depleted areas, access to grazing land and water remains a flashpoint for clashes.

Restoring the livelihoods and food production capacity of vulnerable households across the Sudan will be paramount to increasing their food security, nutritional status and resilience to future shocks.

FAO response

In 2009, FAO will address the region- and context-specific needs of households across the Sudan, with the aim to restore, improve and stabilize their food security and livelihoods.

Crop-based farming interventions will include the distribution of seeds, agricultural tools, animal-drawn implements and training in improved farming practices. FAO will help vulnerable communities to create homestead vegetable gardens and rehabilitate community nurseries producing fruit and local tree seedlings. FAO also aims to strengthen livelihoods by promoting alternative income-generation activities, such as beekeeping, food processing and blacksmithing.

Planned activities to promote sustainable resource management will focus on high-risk areas and will include: the establishment of nurseries for community reforestation; production and use of fuel-efficient stoves to mitigate deforestation; establishment of fodder banks to improve grazing and pasture protection during the dry season; and community-based negotiation and mediation mechanisms to address natural resource management and land use.

To safeguard the livelihoods of herders, FAO interventions also seek to improve livestock disease surveillance, conduct vaccination campaigns, provide training to CAHWs, establish veterinary community centres and to support the preparation of a Rift Valley Fever preparedness and control plan. The provision of livestock and cold chain infrastructure will add value to the livelihoods of herders. Planned activities also aim to equip fishers with basic gear and equipment.

Coordination remains an important aspect of FAO’s proposed response in the Sudan. It is essential to strengthen the impact of interventions by the various humanitarian and recovery actors in the fields of food security and livelihoods, by avoiding gaps and duplication of interventions, increasing advocacy and promoting the dissemination of information on food security.