2020 IN REVIEW
SUDAN HUMANITARIAN FUND AT A GLANCE
The Government has taken bold steps to advance Sudan’s economy, stability and peace, as the country underwent a period of transition following a peace accord that ended decades of conflict. Yet, humanitarian needs continued to grow as Sudan faced a series of crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
A decline in the economy drove food insecurity and further disrupted health services, including the availability of medicines, with only 15 per cent of required essential drugs available in the country. The severe decline in GDP, as well as a loss of approximately 42 per cent of fiscal revenues, had a concomitant impact on services.
Large, protracted displacement remained, with limited returns. At the end of 2020, 2.5 million IDPs and 1.07 million refugees and asylum seekers needed humanitarian assistance and protection support, both in camps and in host communities. Sporadic violence continued in Darfur and South Kordofan, and tribal frictions caused significant clashes in eastern Sudan’s Red Sea and Kassala states, leading to displacements and increased humanitarian needs.
Sudan is prone to various hazards, including localized conflict, floods and cyclical disease outbreaks, which drive humanitarian needs and affect thousands of people each year. The first case of COVID-19 was reported in March 2020, which coincided with a locust invasion. Later in the year, there was a vaccine-derived polio outbreak, which was soon followed by unprecedented floods and, in November 2020, by an influx of refugees from Ethiopia.
Transitioning towards durable solutions remains one of the main priorities of the Government, with a commitment, enshrined in the Constitutional Declaration, to “end the war by addressing the root causes of the Sudanese problem and handling its effects.” The Juba peace agreement signed on 3 October 2020 offered an opportunity to progress towards durable solutions and enhanced, coordinated life-saving support for new and protracted IDPs and host communities.
Impact of economic crisis The high inflation rate – recorded at almost 270 per cent in December 2020 – and rising prices for food, fuel, and other basic commodities, continued to stretch people’s ability to cope. Food insecurity increased, despite a “good harvest”, and about 25.5 million people – more than half the population – were suffering from some level of food insecurity between June and September 2020, the peak of the lean season. This included 7.4 million people in need of food and livelihood-related humanitarian assistance, 1 million more than the same period of 2019. From October 2020, this number reduced slightly to 7.1 million people, but still remained high compared to previous years.
Inflation caused serious challenges for humanitarian actors, affecting procurement processes, with suppliers changing or canceling offers. Humanitarian actors experienced serious losses as a result of a requirement to exchange foreign currency at the official exchange rate of 55 Sudanese pounds (SDG) to the US$, even though prices were determined by an informal exchange rate affected by inflation – SDG 270 to the US$ in December 2020. With a unification of both exchange rates on the horizon, but not yet implemented in 2020, SHF partners continued to push forward spending, causing some delays in implementation. The exchange rate losses resulted in changes to the response in terms of quality, quantity, geographical reach and beneficiary numbers.
According to the Sudan Metrological Authority (SMA), rainfall in Sudan was above average throughout most of the 2020 flooding season. The season, which normally ends in September, continued into October. In 2020, almost 900,000 people were affected by the worst flooding in 100 years—almost twice the number of people affected by floods the previous year. An estimated 2.2 million hectares of agricultural land was flooded, representing 26.8 per cent of cultivated areas in the 15 assessed states.
The unprecedented floods aggravated access challenges. Flooding and difficult physical terrain made roads in several states impassable, causing delays to aid activities particularly during August and September.
Deteriorating health system
Health-care, sanitation, protection, and education services were affected throughout the country. Inflation resulted in a 200 per cent increase in the cost of medicines and health services, while the level of medicines imported was 30 per cent lower compared to 2017.
Sudan experienced outbreaks of waterborne and vectorborne diseases, including Rift Valley Fever, chikungunya and malaria, in 2020. These outbreaks, coupled with low investment in basic services (e.g. poor water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), vector control and health infrastructure), resulted in excessive demand for provision of health care from an already strained health system.
Protection challenges and increased violence in Darfur
Protection risks remained in many parts of the country, with increased risks and violence reported, especially in Darfur. Many IDPs faced harassment when trying to farm, which contributed to food insecurity. Access to protection services remained a concern, coupled with weak rule of law and social protection mechanisms. Approximately 4.7 million people needed better access to protection services. IDPs and refugees were highly vulnerable, particularly at risk of not accessing basic services such as birth registration and at risk of harassment and direct violence triggered by displacement.
Community support networks have weakened and are not sufficient, and a lack of formal dispute resolution mechanisms influenced the escalation of localized clashes into larger inter-communal conflicts. The United Nations – African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) played a role in ensuring security; its withdrawal at the end of 2020 will leave a gap in civilian protection.
Humanitarian access improvements
In 2020, there were improvements in humanitarian access as the Transitional Civilian Government continued to facilitate and enable the humanitarian action in Sudan. This allowed humanitarian partners to reach people in areas previously inaccessible. The Government has committed to improve coordination between its agencies to remove obstacles to humanitarian procedures, facilitate access to areas under control of armed movements, and establish a notification system for the movement of humanitarian personnel.
However, administrative procedures continue to present obstacles to the provision of timely and quality humanitarian assistance. These measures vary considerably between federal- and state-level authorities, and among states.
This results in a disjointed administration of humanitarian access and makes it difficult for aid agencies to execute their programmes as planned.
As the COVID-19 pandemic spread, over 18,254 people contracted the virus, including 1,265 who subsequently died. Starting in March 2020, the Government introduced measures to contain the spread of the virus. In line with most other countries, Sudan closed international borders, banned public gatherings and interstate movement, while the states introduced curfews. The Government made provisions for the movement of humanitarian cargo, allowing most aid operations to continue. Despite difficulties in movement and suspension of face-to-face activities, such as monitoring visits and community engagement, humanitarians managed to continue their work and assist 7.6 million people in 2020.