More than 30% of Sudan’s people are currently facing a food crisis because of the compounding effects of climate shocks, political turmoil, and rising global food prices.
Following a civil power crisis erupting in 2013 between the government and opposition forces, South Sudan plunged into conflict which spread across the country leading to most having to flee their homes. More than 4 million people – 1 in 3 - have been displaced; 1.8 million of those internally displaced, and around 2.5 million having fled to neighbouring countries such as Uganda and Sudan. This is one of the factors leading to the hunger crisis facing Sudan, as conflict in the south has led to people facing starvation. A joint report by the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization said 15 million people face acute food insecurity across all of the East African country’s 18 provinces.
The most recent large-scale climate emergency in South Sudan happened with flooding of both the Nile and Lol Rivers in May. This affected eight of the country’s ten states, and over 800,000 people as of November 2021, are still dealing with the fallout of a crisis that was largely absent from international news coverage.
Since late 2020, the continued fighting, coupled with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the continuous flooding within the surrounding areas meant that 5 counties within Sudan are on the brink of starvation with one county (Western Pibor) within a likely famine. In December 2020, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification’s (IPC) Famine Review Committee (FRC) released a report on Pibor County, South Sudan. It concluded that western Pibor (comprising of Gumuruk, Lekongole, Pibor and Verteth payams) was experiencing ‘Famine Likely’ conditions, characterised by households that have an extreme lack of food and/or other basic needs even after the full employment of coping strategies.
While the Civil war ended after the 2019 Sudanese coup d'état, where President Omar al-Bashir was overthrown by the Sudanese army after popular protest demanded his departure, the effects of the conflict remained as the food crisis is still ongoing. Conflict in South Sudan has reduced harvests, which has led to a lack of food, which in many cases means an increase in poaching and cattle theft, which in turn leads to more conflict and communal violence. An economic crisis due to a drop in oil prices and COVID-19 is also contributing to the country’s hunger crisis.
It remains unclear how Sudan can recover from this. Global food prices are not expected to lower anytime soon, largely due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Climate shocks such as flooding continue to plague the area and cannot be avoided through intervention and while the country has been out of direct political turmoil since 2019, communal violence has increased due to food scarcity and harsh conditions.