Sudan faces worsening hunger crisis: FAO

4m people likely to be suffering from food insecurity in coming months

Farmers and herders in Sudan need urgent support to help prevent the food security situation in the country from deteriorating further, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations warned on Thursday.

Some 3.3 million people are currently suffering from food insecurity with numbers likely to rise to 4 million in the coming months due to a combination of increased conflict and displacement in Darfur, refugee movement from neighbouring South Sudan, poor harvest and spiralling food prices.

In some areas of Sudan, existing crisis levels of food insecurity are expected to deteriorate to emergency levels in the coming few weeks, bringing an even higher degree of acute malnutrition with devastating consequences for vulnerable groups.

"Sudan is a forgotten crisis that is only getting worse," said Abdi Adan Jama, FAO Representative in the country. "We urgently need to ensure vulnerable herders and farmers affected by the situation are in a position to regain their livelihoods, feed their families, reduce their dependency on food aid and rebuild their lives."

United Nations agencies and partners have so far received only 3.5 percent of the $995 million that they requested to carry out urgent humanitarian interventions set out in the Strategic Response Plan for Sudan in 2014.

The current food security situation in Sudan has multiple causes, including a poor 2013-2014 harvest due to late and below-average rains in main cropping areas, with cereal production dropping to 65-70 percent of the last five-year average.

Staple food prices are expected to continue to increase rapidly from February to June 2014 by an average of 10-15 percent, FAO said.

About 80 percent of Sudan’s rural population relies on agriculture for their food and income, and if we do not recognize the magnitude of what is happening and act in time the situation will get much, much worse," said Jama.

FAO is calling for $19 million for a series of urgent interventions in the country targeting a total of 5.4 million people. So far it has received only $7 million, leaving a funding gap of $12 million.

The Organization plans to provide 900 000 of the most vulnerable households with livelihood-saving support. This includes multipurpose crops which not only respond to the nutritional needs of families but also protect soil, provide fodder for livestock to sustain milk production, and offer good prices on markets.

High quality and early maturing seed will be provided for the two staple crops, sorghum and millet, and FAO will work to diversify the food basket of affected families by promoting legumes, sweet potato, milk production, and vegetables that can be grown in the rainy season, enabling vital access to supplementary income.

The Food Security and Livelihoods Cluster, co-led by FAO, plans to vaccinate 11.7 million heads of livestock and ensure supplementary feeding and improved access to pasture and water, which will secure the survival of these important productive assets.

The $19 million FAO needs for urgent interventions forms part of an appeal for almost $388 million for support to food security and livelihoods throughout 2014 made by the Food Security and Livelihoods Cluster as part of the Strategic Response Plan.

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