WFP expands emergency response to avert famine in war-torn Sudan

Judy Ndunge South Sudan June 6, 2024

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is  expanding its emergency food and nutrition assistance in war-torn Sudan amid the looming threat of famine, as conditions for civilians deteriorate and fighting intensifies in battle zones like El Fasher and Khartoum.

The UN food agency is scaling up to provide food and nutrition assistance to an additional 5
million people by the end of this year, doubling the number of people WFP had planned to support at
the start of 2024.

“Sudan is in the grip of widespread hunger and malnutrition. WFP continues to expand its food and
nutrition assistance to reach millions more people who are living through the daily horrors of war. The
situation is already catastrophic and has the potential to worsen further unless support reaches all those affected by conflict,” said Michael Dunford, WFP’s Regional Director for Eastern Africa.

As part of the scale up of assistance, WFP will provide support in cash to 1.2 million people in 12 states. This also gives a vital boost to local markets and food producers. It is also increasing how much food or cash it provides to people facing the most severe levels of hunger – more than two million people across more than 40 hunger hotspots identified by WFP. Certain communities in these areas – mostly in regions where fighting is ongoing, like the Darfurs, Kordofans, Khartoum and Gezira – are at a high-risk of slipping into famine-like conditions if they do not receive urgent and sustained support.

Expansion of access to new humanitarian corridors is already underway to get food supplies moving to communities in all parts of the country – across frontlines from eastern Sudan via Dabbah in Northern State, from Kosti into the Kordofans, and across borders from Chad, Egypt and South Sudan. There is also pre-positioned  food at key border crossings and along supply routes because the imminent rainy season will make roads in the Darfurs and Kordofans impassable.

“The situation in Sudan is not so much forgotten as neglected. It is already the largest displacement crisis in the world, and it has the potential to become the world’s largest hunger crisis. As global leaders focus elsewhere, it is not receiving the necessary attention and support to avert a nightmare scenario for the people of Sudan. The world cannot claim it doesn’t know how bad the situation is in Sudan or that urgent action is needed,” said Dunford.

Additionally, WFP is working with smallholder farmers, many displaced by conflict, to boost wheat
production. The first harvest supported through this programme – financed by the African Development
Bank – gave 170,000 farmers climate-adapted wheat seeds and fertilizer, boosting their production by up to 70 percent over the last year and offering them a vital safety net as Sudan’s lean season begins.

Against the backdrop of the ongoing war, humanitarian agencies are struggling to support everyone in
need. Food security is drastically deteriorating and could hit levels not seen in Sudan since the early
2000s. Famine-like conditions are caused not only by a lack of food, but also a lack of medical care and clean water – all a devastating reality for Sudan’s population. People in Sudan are resorting to desperate measures like eating grass and wild leaves just to survive. Malnutrition among children in Sudan has also hit shocking levels, leaving an entire generation at risk. Children are already dying of malnutrition-related causes.

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