War in Ukraine threatens to increase hunger in Sudan
FAIRFIELD, Conn. (March 24, 2022) – More than 80% of Sudan's wheat imports are at risk as a result of the conflict in Ukraine, exacerbating an already dire economic and humanitarian crisis, said Save the Children.
Fighting and sanctions have disrupted grain shipments from Russia and Ukraine, which account for over 80% and 7% of Sudan's wheat supplies, respectively. Concerns about the disruption of supply lines have already driven up the global price of wheat by more than 50%, and Save the Children warns that this could have a devastating knock-on effect on some of the world's most vulnerable children.
Bread is a staple food in Sudan, particularly in populated urban areas. The hike in wheat prices is likely to increase demand for other staple foods consumed in rural areas, such as sorghum, also driving up those prices. As a result, Save the Children fears the eventual impact of these price hikes will be on the poorest families who are least equipped to adapt.
Sudan is already in the grips of a protracted economic crisis, which has seen inflation rise to one of the highest levels in the world.
Humanitarian partners last year estimated that about 14.3 million people would need humanitarian assistance in 2022, but the UN's World Food Programme fears the recent devaluation of the Sudanese Pound, as well as the war in Ukraine, could drive this number up to 20 million - half of the Sudanese population.
The price for an average food basket in Sudan has already gone up by 700% over the past two years, with the price of a small bread loaf jumping from 5 SDG (around 1 cent USD) to nearly 50SDG (10 cents) within the past year.
The wheat crisis is adding additional stress on the population, which has also suffered a significant decrease in domestic production, with this year's agricultural yield in Sudan already 19% below average. This is in part due to the climate crisis impacting large swathes of East Africa, with an extended dry season ruining crops.
David Wright, Chief Operation Officer of Save the Children, who visited Sudan's Darfur region this week, said: "During my visit to Krinding displaced persons camps in West Darfur today, we heard directly from children and families who have been impacted by the economic crisis and ongoing conflict and cycles of displacement. In addition, we are concerned about the impact of the impending food crisis on these vulnerable communities.
"Every child has the right to eat and develop in a healthy way. Yet, due to multiple crises Sudan has been going through in the last years, including conflict, high inflation, and climate change, nearly a quarter of the population is facing hunger. The war in Ukraine is now adding further stress to an already volatile situation in the country. "In this situation, we cannot only look at the problem but need to address it and find solutions. There are some global issues we cannot change immediately, but we can help the children of Sudan right now. This needs the contribution and collaboration of everyone to reduce the reliance of families on food imports, strengthen their resilience and support them to become more self-reliant.
Amira, 30, is a widowed mother of ten children from North Darfur, Sudan. She said: "Before, I did not know how I can buy food for my children and at the same time pay for my children's education. Then, Save the Children gave me two goats. Now my children are drinking milk every morning, and they are more healthy and can focus on school. This has also allowed me to save some money to pay for the school fees."
Save the Children Sudan is running food security programs in five of the most affected states, including the distribution of seeds and agricultural inputs, goats for milk, and cash distribution. The organization has also supported more than one million Sudanese people in the last year with health and nutrition services, ensuring that children under five affected by malnutrition receive the help that they need.
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