Threats to Food Security

  • Ongoing conflict
  • Extremely low level of basic infrastructures
  • Internally displaced populations
  • Extreme environmental conditions


Sudan is the largest country on the African continent and arguably one of the most complex. It is a microcosm of humanitarian challenges: in the western region of Darfur about 2 million people (one third of the population) have been displaced by a conflict that broke out in 2003; meanwhile, South Sudan is struggling to rebuild and recover from more than two decades of civil war; and in the East chronic food insecurity, underdevelopment and sporadic conflict are major concerns.

Sudan is categorized by the UN as a low-income, food-deficit country and ranks as number 147 out of 177 countries and territories on the 2007/8 Human Development Index. According to the report, among Sudan ’s 36.9 million people, life expectancy at birth is 58.9 years for women and 56 for men. Almost half of Sudan ’s women, 48%, are illiterate, as are 29% of the men.

The Sudan Household Health Survey in 2006 found 31% of children under five were moderately underweight. Of Greater Darfur's estimated population of 6 million people, more than half are directly or indirectly affected by a conflict that has destroyed the region's infrastructure. The conflict intensified in the second half of 2006, despite the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement in May of that year. In 2008, up to 3.6 million people a month are expected to need food assistance.

The volatile security situation means that many people lack access to food and in farming areas many fields cannot be harvested.

The ongoing conflict has also caused a breakdown of trade and markets. Darfur's humanitarian crisis shows no sign of abating, with banditry and insecurity worsening in early 2008. By the end of June, two truck drivers delivering food for WFP had been killed, 41 drivers were missing, and 83 trucks had been hijacked, with 55 still missing.

In 2008 there was little expectation of livelihood recovery or sustainable returns of the displaced population. In the South, 20 years of conflict left an estimated 2 million people dead, 4 million displaced and more than 600,000 living as refugees outside the country. The war wrecked the southern infrastructure and economy. Food production was hampered by fighting and displacement, as well as by recurrent droughts.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in January 2005 and the establishment of a Government of National Unity by October 2005 brought hope to the population of South Sudan.

There are, however, still huge humanitarian issues to be addressed. In 2007, WFP provided food assistance to help more than 350,000 people returning to their home areas in the South and the Three Areas; however many of the millions displaced during the years of conflict are yet to return, discouraged by a lack of basic services. Security remains a real concern. A serious outbreak of fighting in Abyei in mid-May saw thousands flee their homes, while in separate incidents, five WFP-contracted drivers or assistants were killed in the first half of 2008 alone.

WFP stresses that recovery and development-oriented assistance is essential at this critical juncture to secure the fragile peace and encourage development. Large areas in East Sudan , are chronically food insecure.

The combined impact of conflict, persistent drought and annual flooding in some areas have undermined traditional livelihoods and pushed people from their homes. There are some 68,000 displaced Sudanese and 85,000 Eritrean refugees, and WFP targets vulnerable households. Malnutrition rates in the Eastern states of the Red Sea and Kassala are consistently above emergency levels.

WFP Activities

WFP is working to connect farmers in Sudan to markets through the Purchase for Progress initiative. Learn more

Sudan is WFP's largest operation in the world. In 2008, WFP provided food assistance to over 6 million vulnerable people. WFP works in Darfur , the south, east and transitional 'Three Areas' (Abyei, Blue Nile and South Kordofan ).

Darfur is currently the largest humanitarian emergency in the world and represents more than 70 percent of WFP's budgeted activities in Sudan . WFPprovides monthly food rations to approximately 2 million internally displaced people – about one third of Darfur's population. Throughout the rainy season (May-October), also known as the pre-harvest "hunger gap", WFP also provides food rations to vulnerable people in communities and rural areas. During these peak months, food distributions in Darfur reach more than 3 million people. Supplementary and therapeutic feeding is given to approximately 120,000 people, while school feeding is also planned for more than 360,000 children in Darfur this year.

South Sudan
WFP is committed to supporting the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the 21-year north-south civil war in Sudan , with programmes to assist returnees to reintegrate into their communities, build their livelihoods and plan for the future. The programme in South Sudan targets 1.4 million people with recovery activities. This includes a three-month reintegration package for people returning to the South from displacement camps in other parts of Sudan or neighbouring countries. In 2008 WFP also plans to support increased enrolment by providing food for education (school feeding and take-home rations) to some 500,000 children. Food for work and food for recovery programmes work with communities to identify and carry out much-needed infrastructure projects such as feeder roads, dams, dykes, schools, health clinics, wells and water collection ponds. Food for training programmes support vocational training for adults.

Central, East and the Three Areas
The combined impact of persistent drought and conflict have undermined traditional livelihoods in eastern Sudan . Malnutrition rates in the states of Kassala and Red Sea are consistently above emergency levels. In the Three Areas (Abyei, Blue Nile and South Kordofan) and in White Nile state, former frontline of the North-South conflict, communities face significant challenges due to lack of infrastructure and questions over the use of land and water resources. The existence of landmines also delays the recovery of the economy. WFP provides assistance to returnees to this area, targeted food assistance to the most food insecure people and offers food for recovery programmes to support the peace process. WFP's Country Programme, distinct from the emergency operation, targets about 306,000 people and plays an important role in strengthening recovery and development in Sudan . It aims to improve food security and enable households to invest in capital through education and training. The programme is fully harmonised, in its objectives and timing, with the United Nations Development assistance Framework (UNDAF) and targets about half a million people. The two core elements of the country programme are school feeding and Food for Work. The total cost of the programme for the period 2002-2008 is US$66 million. Through school feeding for 270,000, the Sudan Country Programme aims to improve access, quality and level of education for primary and secondary school children, particularly girls. The programme also makes it possible for poor families to gain and preserve assets through food-for-work activities targeting 36,000 people.

Special Operations

  • WFP's Humanitarian Air Service is used by the entire humanitarian community in Sudan to reach the field. On a budget of US$77 million in 2008, WFP plans to carry about 15,000 humanitarian passengers each month, with a fleet of up to 24 aircraft. In June, funding shortfalls forced WFP to reduce services, including to Darfur . In 2007 WFP-HAS carried 160,000 passengers from about 170 humanitarian agencies and non-governmental organizations.
  • The South Sudan emergency road repair and mine clearance project aims to repair and clear nearly 3,000 km of roads, at a cost of US$252 million between 2004 and 2009. As of March 2008, the project had rebuilt and maintained more than 2,300 km of roads and cleared 230,000 unexploded ordnance and mines. The improved roads allow WFP and other agencies to deliver assistance in a timely and cost-effective way, while at the same time the project has provided a tangible benefit to the South Sudan economy.


WFP Offices

Head Office