FEWS Bulletin: Feb. 99: Sudan
Planting of the 1999 crops in southern Sudan is expected to start in April, and a major UNICEF-coordinated operation to supply free seeds and tools is underway. Following an excellent response by donors, UNICEF expects to distribute approximately 1,100 MT of seeds and NGOs an additional 2,700 MT, well above the original total estimated requirement of 2,590 MT. Addressing the lessons of last years’ program, the majority of seed needs to be distributed by late March before the rains begin. A large proportion of the seeds is being procured inside southern Sudan, including 600 MT by UNICEF, to provide well-adapted local varieties. Better targeting of the poorest households during distributions will be required this year. However, planned deliveries to Upper Nile are still below assessed needs due to the small number of NGOs active in the region.
The price of sorghum in northern Bahr-el-Ghazal has fallen dramatically since the peak in May 1998 (figure 3), in response to the 1998 harvest and continuing relief distributions. However, prices are expected to rise in the coming months as harvested stocks are depleted. The nutritional status of children in Bahr-el-Ghazal has also improved. A January survey conducted in Ajiep by Doctors Without Borders-Belgium reported that global malnutrition rates there declined from 80 to 15 percent between July 1998 and January 1999. Similarly, severe malnutrition fell from 48 to 2 percent during the same period. Despite these improvements, continuing admissions to supplementary feeding centers underscore the extremely fragile situation of the beneficiaries, and recent gains could easily be reversed.
A substantial need for relief food is anticipated until the next harvest in October 1999. The WFP 1999 Emergency Operations Program (EMOP), combining both the northern and southern sectors, requests 173,000 MT of food to feed 2.3 million people. The total projected cost is $219.7 million but only $142.3 million is required as new commitments. The remaining $77.4 million is covered under last year’s EMOP (April 1998-April 1999), which had secured contributions for distributions to the end of April 1999. The new EMOP has been converted into a calendar-year cycle, to harmonize with other Operation Lifeline Sudan budgets.
WFP has requested 91,000 MT of food for 1.2 million people in the southern sector, compared to the 83,000 MT distributed in 1998 (an amount that proved tragically inadequate to meet needs during the first half of 1998). Based on an annual assessment by the WFP Food Economy Assessment Unit, 36,000 MT is estimated as needed "to prevent hunger" while 55,000 MT is programmed as "agricultural production support" to maximize the 1999 harvest. In the northern sector, 66,000 MT of food is requested for specific needs, while the balance of 16,000 MT is a contingency against the uncertain security situation.
Southern sector deliveries in January 1999 were 7,100 MT, a 23 percent decrease from December 1998. Deliveries may be further reduced, given the improved post-harvest food availability, but needs are expected to increase in April with the onset of the hunger gap. In Upper Nile, only 18 percent of the planned 1,600 MT of food was delivered to 47 percent of the targeted beneficiaries; the shortfall in deliveries persists.
The FEWS bulletin is published for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Africa Bureau, Sustainable Development Office, Crisis Mitigation and Response Division (AFR/SD/CMR) by: The FEWS Project, No. 698-0491 (Contract No. AOT-0491-C-00-5021-00), Contractor: Associates in Rural Development, Inc., Burlington, VT.
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