Poverty in Sudan

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Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world, according to Un Development report 2000. Most of the population live under hard conditions. One of the Sahel countries, Sudan is located in the Sahara desert. Hard climate conditions and political instability were always responsible for the poor life conditions. However, the country's internal conflict between north and south has increased poverty, even though the country has huge agricultural and mining potentials.

The southern parts of the country have ended a 21-year-long war with the north by signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Jan 2005 and still working on implementation of the agreement. The whole country is still suffering from war repercussions and disputes still exist between peace partners which are the National Congress Party (NCP) in the north and the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in south.

According to news reports, many people are dying of hunger or disease in certain parts of the country, especially in the south.

Many people have fled the country in order to escape difficult conditions. People with relative wealth in Sudan live in Khartoum, Port Sudan, and near the Nile River, where conditions are relatively better. Only small groups of people in the country would be considered "rich."

According to Human Development Report 2000, 26.6 percent of the population is not expected to survive to more than 40 years of age. Comparatively, in Egypt the number is only 9.9 percent while in China its 7.7 percent. The early death of so many Sudanese can be traced to the violence but also to the lack of basic necessities. About 27 percent of the population do not have access to safe water (in Egypt, 13 percent); while 30 percent have no access to health services (in Egypt, 1 percent). For children under the age of 5 years old, 34 percent are underweight (in Egypt, 12 percent). The World Factbook estimated that the GDP per capita at purchasing power parity in 2000 was US$1,000. All of these numbers underscore the difficulty that most people face in Sudan.

One of the problems is that after the country began to produce oil, agriculture was neglected. Nowadays Al-Jazeera agricultural project, which used to produce huge quantities of cotton and other crops such as sorghum and wheat, is no longer effective and people who used to live on this project are now suffering.

On Tuesday Nov. 10, 2009, the Ministry of Social Welfare announced that 25% of the Sudanese receive social support (Zakat), though Sudan began exporting crude oil in the last quarter of 1999. According to the latest figures, Sudan exports around 500,000 barrels per day. However, international classification to Sudan population below poverty line is 40%.

The poverty threshold, or poverty line, is the minimum level of income deemed necessary to achieve an adequate standard of living in a given country. In practice, like the definition of poverty, the official or common understanding of poverty line is significantly higher in developed countries than in developing countries.

In the meantime, the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, said that over one million people in southern Sudan might suffer food shortages by year 2010. Speaking to Miraya FM, the Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, Hilda Johnson, described the food situation in southern Sudan as bad. Ms Johnson expressed concern for the increased numbers of malnourished children in Jonglei Sate, in southern Sudan.

The United Nations World Food Program, WFP, has confirmed to Miraya FM that it has started airdropping food to feed over one hundred and fifty thousand people in areas not accessible by roads in southern Sudan. WFP Deputy Logistics Coordinator, Aldo Spaini, said the organization has already delivered over six hundred metric tones of food in three States. WFP said the airdrops of food assistance started on Thursday Nov 05, 2009 and will provide 4,000 metric tons of food to three of Southern Sudan states, namely Jonglei, Upper Nile and Warrap.

Conflicts, droughts, floods, disease and illiteracy are all factors contributing to poverty. Recent tribal clashes in some areas such as Jonglei, have directly led to many people leaving their homes and becoming refugees. Unless a lasting solution is found for conflicts, disease contained and illiteracy eliminated or reduced, observers believe Sudan will continue to be a poor country in the foreseeable future.