Conflict and Fragility

Policy briefs

From Catastrophe to Famine: Immediate action needed in Sudan to contain mass starvation

08 Feb 2024 - 15:26
Source: Food distribution Omdurman - Sudan / Reuters

The conflict in Sudan has a substantial impact on the country’s food system and hinders people’s ability to cope with food shortages. As the country shows the worst hunger level ever recorded during the harvest season (from October to February), which is usually a period when food is more available, the severity and scale of hunger in the coming lean season (mid-2024) will be catastrophic. This policy brief argues that rather than the inevitable consequence of war, this food crisis is the result of the generals’ deliberate destruction of Sudan’s food system and the obstruction of people’s coping mechanisms. Based on available data and famine literature, accounts from hunger sufferers, as well as discussions with experts in and on Sudan, this policy brief outlines scenarios that look several months beyond currently available food insecurity forecasts. According to the most likely scenario, seven million people will face catastrophic levels of hunger by June 2024 (IPC5), with mass starvation being the prospect. The window by which to significantly reduce the impact of what is becoming the world’s largest hunger crisis in decades is rapidly closing. Besides increasing diplomatic and economic pressure to stop the war, the EU, its member states, the US, the UK, and Norway, as well as the UN and INGO partners must urgently and massively scale up meaningful assistance by:

i. Declaring the risk of famine for Sudan;

ii. Injecting mobile cash directly to local producers, as well as to consumers and local aid providers (Emergency Response Rooms);

iii. Immediately scaling up food aid and WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) support.

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