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Sudan Referendum Impacts on Market Flows and Livelihoods May 2011

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In March and April 2011, FEWS NET conducted field assessments to analyze the impact of the January 2011 referendum on trade flows and livelihoods, particularly along the north/south border. This report provides a summary of the key findings from the assessment.

Key messages

--In 2010, over 80,000 MT of key food staples – sorghum, wheat flour, millet, wheat grain, and groundnuts – were supplied to southern Sudan by the north. These flows have the potential to increase to at least 150,000 MT annually, but only if security and stable north-south relations are maintained after the forthcoming July 2011 separation of northern and southern Sudan.

--The outcomes of the January 2011 referendum and apprehension over the July separation have negatively affected commodity flows from north to south to date by reducing the volume of food and non-food supplies by up to 40 percent. Supplies are likely to further decline given potential trade blockades (in May, 2011, the trade flow from north to south Sudan was blocked for almost three weeks) and growing security concerns along the border.

--The reduction in the flow of goods, especially staple cereals and fuel, has caused prices to increase in markets that are mostly supplied from the north. For example, the price of fuel has increased by 60-70 percent in Wau Town (West Bahr al Ghazal State) over the course of the month of May. The loss of the southern Sudan market led to depressed prices in the main supply areas of northern Sudan. Sorghum prices in Damzin (Blue Nile State) began to decline in May (the start of the lean season) due to decreased sorghum flows from northern to southern Sudan as a result of the trade blockade.

--Other negative impacts observed since the January referendum include reduced access to grazing lands for migratory pastoralists from northern Sudan; reduced seasonal labor migration from the south to the north; and reduced fish and livestock flows from the south to the north. These impacts are likely to worsen after the July 2011 separation.