Emergency food assistance needs are above average due to high staple food prices and lower than normal income resulting from the ongoing macroeconomic crisis in Sudan. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist among IDPs in conflict-affected areas of Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile and among poor households in chronically food insecure areas of Sudan. During the June to September lean season, food security outcomes are likely to deteriorate further, and IDPs in SPLM-N controlled areas of South Kordofan and SPLA-AW controlled areas of Jebel Marra are expected to be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in the absence of humanitarian assistance.
The Sudanese Pound on the official market was devalued from 52 SDG/USD in February to 55 SDG/USD in March, while on the informal market it depreciated from 97 SDG/USD in January to 125-130 SDG/USD in February/March. Ongoing macroeconomic difficulties and the decreasing value of the Sudanese Pound have continued to result in higher prices of staple foods. Prices of sorghum and millet increased atypically by 10 to 20 percent in most markets between February and March 2020, reaching levels 75-120 percent higher than this time last year and 250-350 percent above the five-year average.
Reports of increasing cases of COVID-19 in Sudan are concerning for potential impacts on household livelihoods, market functioning, as well as direct impacts on health. As of March 30, 2020, WHO reports 6 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2 deaths. In mid-March, the government of Sudan closed all official land border points in Sudan, mandated a nationwide curfew, and suspended bus transportation between cities and states in Sudan.
Should COVID-19 or measures implemented to control the outbreak significantly disrupt trade or prevent households from accessing typical sources of income (such as labor migration), further increases in the severity and scope of food insecurity would be expected. In the coming months, restrictions on trade could also limit already difficult access to inputs for the upcoming agricultural season. This, in combination with restrictions on population movement, could constrain planting and labor during the agricultural season. Moreover, COVID-19 would likely further increase the risk of mortality for those populations whose health status is already compromised by acute malnutrition.