More than 9 million children in Sudan â€“ just under half of all children in the country â€“ will face severe food shortages in the coming months due to conflict disrupting crop production.
This is an increase of 1.7 million children facing hunger since fighting flared up two months ago when already 7.6 million children were experiencing food shortages. The increase of 22% in just two months without a correlating increase in support is going to lead to more suffering and young lives lost, according to the humanitarian agency, Save the Children.
The month of May typically represents the start of the planting season in Sudan, when farmers take out small loans, purchase seeds, and plant crops to yield harvests in October and November. These crops form the basis of all family meals throughout the winter when harvests are scarce.
The conflict has forced thousands of farmers off their land, and the collapse of the banking system has drastically reduced the availability of loans. Many agricultural companies that usually sell fertilizer and pesticides have shut down, and a lack of fuel makes it impossible for farmers to operate tractors and plows.
The price of a local food basket, which was already 28% higher than normal in March 2023, is expected to increase by a further 25% in the next three to six months if the conflict continues. Staple grain prices are also expected to increase by between 200-700 % over the coming year, compared to the five-year average.
Save the Children said this crisis could cost more young lives as families struggle to put food on the table, with Sudan already facing one of the highest rates of food insecurity and malnutrition in the world.
The child rights organization said that thereâ€™s no doubt that the potential for cultivation and thus the overall food stock in Sudan will drastically shrink â€“ in a country where already 12 million people were living in severe food insecurity and over half a million children facing severe acute malnutrition.
â€œLocal farmers are critical in the countryâ€™s food chain and provide most of the food consumed in Sudan. Yet it is looking more likely that farmers will not cultivate their farms this year, causing a huge deep in the overall food basket and massive food shortages across the country,â€ says Adil Abdelrahman, School Meal Programme coordinator at Save the Children in Sudan.
Nearly two months on, Sudanâ€™s conflict is sending hunger shockwaves across an already fragile region, as hundreds of thousands of people continue fleeing to neighboring countries â€”pushing up already alarming food insecurity and malnutrition levels, the World Food Programme (WFP) further noted.
â€œThe humanitarian needs in Eastern Africa were immense even before the conflict in Sudan,â€ said Michael Dunford, WFPâ€™s Regional Director for Eastern Africa, describing drought, floods, fighting, and economic crises that have devastated nearby countries in recent months.
â€œNow, more than a million people have been displaced in Sudan and many others have sought safety in neighboring countries already struggling with high levels of food insecurity,â€ he added. â€œThis increases the needs even more and creates the potential for further destabilization in the region.â€
The conflict in Sudan has entered its eighth week with fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) continuing.
The unrest is expected to push another 2.5 million people into hunger â€” swelling the overall total to a record 19 million, or 40 percent of the countryâ€™s population.
Hunger numbers are also growing elsewhere. So far, roughly 425,000 people have fled Sudan to neighboring countries, including South Sudan, Chad, and Egypt, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The United Nations predicts the exodus could soar to a million more people leaving the country over the next six months.