As part of the 2007 Work Plan for the Sudan, which outlines the international community's planned support to humanitarian, recovery and development programming, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is appealing for US$58 million to implement its agricultural assistance programmes in 2007. Agriculture remains the mainstay of the Sudanese economy, with some 87 percent of the population dependent on agriculture for their food security and livelihoods.
Decades of insecurity and lack of access to basic social services have undermined livelihoods, increased levels of poverty, reduced economic and educational opportunities and led to high rates of malnutrition. Supporting returnees seeking to resettle will be a top priority, and ensuring adequate materials and services to enable returnees to engage in agricultural, livestock- or fisheries-based livelihoods upon their return will be central to this process.
Over the past two years, the Sudan has witnessed significant changes that have left the country wavering between two extremes. Peace in the south has encouraged hundreds of thousands of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to return to their place of origin. On the other hand, tensions in Greater Darfur in western Sudan have heightened, provoking a severe humanitarian crisis in the region with nearly four million people affected.
The 2007 Work Plan focuses not only on humanitarian assistance, but also on expanding recovery and development activities central to the Sudan's future. Reflecting the shift from humanitarian aid to recovery and development, FAO's humanitarian assistance proposals are complemented by a number of recovery and development programmes. This includes introducing new techniques and training in improved methodologies for delivery of communitybased animal health services, agro-processing and local seed multiplication. Support to land tenure is another important issue, as disputes over land and property rights are a root cause of conflict in the country. Strengthening the operational capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources will also be an important focus.
Eastern Sudan continues to suffer from chronic food insecurity as a result of a series of droughts, combined with the widespread depletion of the natural resource base. The spread of livestock diseases, a lack of veterinary drugs and equipment, and limited access to grazing land and water resources have severely hampered livestock production activities in the region. As a result, pastoralist ommunities are marginalized and there is a continued risk of localized conflicts over access to scarce resources. In October 2006, the Government of National Unity (GNU) and the Eastern Front signed the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement, which, it is hoped, will provide the foundation for improved access and increased recovery and development activities.
Support for the Sudan's transition is, however, tarnished by the situation in Darfur in western Sudan, where violence and insecurity continue to prevail. Over the past two decades, the region has shifted from being a self-sufficient producer of major staple food crops to a situation whereby approximately half the population is dependent on food aid. Crop production has been severely hampered as farmers can no longer access their land and/or key inputs such as quality seeds and tools. In addition, an estimated two million people reside in IDP camps and require continued humanitarian assistance.
FAO's proposed assistance
In 2007, to help improve the household food security of vulnerable populations, FAO and its partners will seek to provide 1.2 million people with farming inputs, fishing equipment and food-forwork/ training opportunities. Animal health care services are also planned for 4.1 million animals. FAO will also seek the active participation of some 400 000 people across the country in various interventions related to natural resource management and sustainable land use systems. Other recovery and development strategies focus on the provision of training in livestock rearing and fishing and improved farming techniques such as ox-ploughing, small-scale irrigation schemes and postharvest conservation.