The 2020/21 millet, sorghum, and cash crop harvest is complete across most traditional rain-fed sectors while still ongoing in the semi-mechanized and irrigated central and eastern Sudan sectors. Some challenges facing the harvest are the high cost of labor and shortages of both harvesting inputs and labor. Overall, a near-average harvest of staple foods and cash crops is expected. However, crop yields, particularly sesame and millet, were affected by flooding, waterlogging, and pest infestations across much of the rain-fed sector.
Sudan continues to face a macroeconomic crisis due to low foreign exchange reserves, while the Sudanese Pound's value continues to weaken in the parallel market. The Sudanese Pound depreciated from 260 SDG/USD in November to 315 SDG/USD by the end of January 2021. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), in December 2020, the national inflation rate increased to 269.33 percent, an approximately 15 percent increase compared to November 2020, and a 72 percent increase over the last six months. The increase in the inflation rate is mainly driven by price increases in the local food basket, particularly transportation and food and beverages, impacting the purchasing power of poor households.
Between December 2020 and January 2021, despite it being the harvest period, staple food prices continued increasing atypically and were more than double compared to last year and over five times greater than the five-year average. The high cereal prices are being driven by the continued depreciation of the Sudanese pound, high production and transportation costs, and lower than expected harvests. Livestock prices have seasonally increased and remained almost double compared to last year and over three times above the five-year average. The high food prices are negatively impacting food access, particularly for poor pastoral and urban poor households.
Ethiopian refugees fleeing fighting in Ethiopia's Tigray region continued arriving in Sudan's bordering states but at decreased daily arrival rates compared to the beginning of the conflict in early November 2020. As of January 27, 2021, UNHCR and COR have registered 60,122 Ethiopian refugees in Sudan. Over 20,500 refugees have been relocated from Hamdayet and Abderafi border points to Um Rakuba camp in Al Gadaref state. WFP and humanitarian partners are providing emergency food assistance to the refugees.
A second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has been ongoing since late October 2020, with the cumulative number of confirmed cases and deaths doubling in less than three months. According to Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) data, over 12,792 new COVID-19 were recorded between November 1, 2020, and January 26, 2021, approximately 48 percent of total confirmed cases since March 2020. The rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases is reducing income-earning opportunities for poor households engaged in casual labor as better-off households seek to reduce their risk of exposure.