Food prices in Sudan triple over past year: UN
AFP, , Thursday 1 Oct 2020

Food prices in Sudan have tripled over the past year, while the cost of health services increased by 90 percent, the UN has said, painting a bleak picture of conditions in the country.

"The dire economic situation in Sudan, marked by soaring inflation, is compounding chronic underdevelopment and poverty, recurrent climate shocks, disease outbreaks, violence and conflict to generate rising humanitarian needs," the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Wednesday.

"The average price of the local food basket increased by nearly 200 percent compared to 2019, and the cost of health services increased by 90 per cent in 2020," it added, quoting the World Food Programme.

OCHA said that inflation, according to Sudan's central bureau of statistics, had reached 170 percent in August.

Inflation, the UN agency added, was pushing up costs of basic foods such as sorghum, the price of "which is now 240 percent higher than one year ago and more than 680 percent higher than the five-year average".

Furthermore, the depreciating Sudanese pound is "eroding families' purchasing power and ability to provide for themselves", OCHA said.

"Over 9.6 million people are severely food insecure at the peak of the lean season (June to September)," OCHA added, citing the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report.

To make matters worse, "fuel shortages have also affected timely transportation and delivery of aid, which could lead to fewer people being assisted by the end of the year," the agency said.

Sudan declared a state of economic emergency earlier this month to avert a downturn due to the dramatic fall of its local currency against the US dollar and soaring inflation.

Economic hardship, which triggered protests in December 2018 that led to the ouster of long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir, remains a pressing challenge in Sudan.

This year, the country's economic struggles were compounded by floods that affected around 860,000 people, according to figures published Thursday.

In September, the EU, several members states and the World Bank signed a deal for almost $190 million in direct financial aid to poor families in Sudan, the official SUNA news agency reported Monday.