Voice of America (Washington, DC)

10 April 2014

Sudan: Four Million Sudanese Face Food Insecurity

Last updated on: April 10, 2014 12:33 PM

Food insecurity in Sudan could affect as many as four million people in the coming months. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization blames conflict, displacement and poor harvests.

The FAO says currently there are 3.3-million food insecure people in Sudan. That figure is expected to rise by 700,000 due to a lack of availability and access to food.

Rosanne Marchesich, the agency's representative in Sudan, said, "The numbers are quite astonishing."

Sudan is facing - what she calls - an early lean season.

"When the harvest is finished and the amount of locally available food is diminished. That's what the lean season is."

Marchesich said food support is needed for millions of households in Sudan. The reasons are many.

"We have the issue of conflict. You see that in the Blue Nile, [Southern] Kordofan [States] and especially in Darfur right now. And you see huge displacements. There were about 380,000 people displaced just in 2013. And in the new year, up until the figures of April 7th, we see an additional displacement of 280,000 people just in the Darfur region alone," she said.

And livelihoods play a role, as well.

"Lack of economic opportunities for the people, which results in conflict - [the] issue of natural resource management - conflict between farmers, agriculturalists and herders, for example. And then you also see drought and flood. So, it's really a nation of human disaster and natural disaster - a combination of the two," she said.

The lack of availability of food in many places in Sudan has caused food prices to jump.

Marchesich said, "You can see an increase in food prices at about 84-percent for meat - 45-percent for sugar - 40 percent for vegetables - and 70 percent for transport, which is very much linked to access and availability of the food."

The conflict in South Sudan only adds to the situation, as refugees cross the border seeking safer haven.

"It is very, very important that we continue to provide the people and the host communities - and the returnees - and also those people in IDP camps - with seed so that they can plant. And many are leaving the camp and returning back to their homes. And they're returning to nothing. So these people need to have seeds and tools so that they can plant and have a harvest," she said.

Besides thousands of metric tons of seed, the FAO official said nearly one-million farming tools need to be distributed.

What's more, Sudanese herders need help, too.

"We need to ensure that the herders' livestock is vaccinated - that they are receiving fodder to keep their animals healthy. Because having livestock is not only a very important status symbol for the families, but it is a way of ensuring nutrition security, as well as food security, because it is a source of protein and its by-products, either through dairy or through eggs or through the meat that is consumed," she said.

More than 11-and-a-half million livestock would be vaccinated under the FAO plan. The U.N. agency said its interventions would cost $19-million. So far, donors have provided $7-million. So, animal vaccinations and farming tool distribution are far short of the target numbers.

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