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Food Security in the Sudan Sam L. Laki International Center for Water Resources Management The Sudan, with an area of one million square miles has a population of 26 million people, an annual GNP growth rate of 1 percent, and an inflation rate of over 70 percent. The country is heterogeneous in many respects including climate, geography, history, languages, and people. Eighty-five percent of the labor force is in the agricultural sector and agriculture contributes 30 percent to GNP. Ninety percent of the exports are agricultural raw materials that include: cotton, livestock, sesame, groundnuts, and gum arabia Despite these exports, the country faces an acute balance of payment deficits, large budget deficits, and government expenditures. Sudan's external debt rose from $ 3.8 billion in 1978 to $ 13.5 billion in 1990. The depth of poverty determines the impact of the famine. The effects of food shortages, and purchasing power collapse are not felt in higher income groups with good asset bases. The poor face long-term constraints in food production, access to education, health care, markets, credit, improved inputs, and information. Over half a million people have died between 1984 and 1990 due to starvation. The situation is worse in South Sudan because of the war (Teklu, Von Braun, and Zaki 1991). Food Security Problems Food security is defined as the "access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life" (World Bank, 1986). There are two important dimensions to the food security problem: l) food availability through production, trade, and food aid; and 2) food access orĀ©Northeast African Studies (ISSN 0740-9133) Vol. 1, Nos. 2-3 (New Series) 1994, pp. 119-128 119 120 Sam L. Laki entitlement through physical and financial resources. The food security problems could be short term (transitory) or long term (chronic). The short-term crises are characterized by the sudden appearances of large numbers of starving people weakened by undernutrition who may die of exposure to diseases. The root causes of food crises could be drought, wars, floods, political factors, and diseases. Examples of the transitory crises are the 1983-1985 drought in Western Sudan and the ongoing civil war. Chronic food crises are less dramatic and less obvious to the casual observer. Gradual changes in economic and ecological trends occur leading to the depletion of reserves in the food system. Examples of chronic crises include decreasing food production, increasing foreign debt and increased importation of staple foods (see Table 1). Table 1: Sudanese Cereal Balance Sheet, 1971-1987. Year Produce Wheat Import Consume Produce Sorghum Export Consume 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983* 1984 1985* 1986 1987 162,000 124,000 152,000 235,000 269,000 263,000 289,000 312,000 166,000 232,000 218,000 142,000 141,000 169,000 79,000 199,000 149,000 128,000 160,000 158,000 136,000 126,000 173,000 158,000 147,000 225,000 340,000 477,000 253,000 545,000 475,000 732,000 629,000 777,000 226,000 211,000 225,000 265,000 279,000 313,000 330,000 338,000 302,000 409,000 359,000 314,000 414,000 417,000 506,000 730,000 630,000 1,454,000 1,590,000 1,300,000 1,692,000 1,681,000 2,160,000 1,790,000 2,062,000 2,373,000 1,269,000 2,068,000 3,272,000 1,938,000 1,819,000 1,097,000 3,522,000 3,282,000 2,000 37,000 60,000 102,000 98,000 48,000 94,000 133,000 63,000 196,000 338,000 262,000 416,000 186,000 19,000 141,000 932,000 1,286,000 1,352,000 1,085,000 1,053,000 1,232,000 1,723,000 1,332,000 1,512,000 1,781,000 1,008,000 1,388,000 1,376,000 1,571,000 1,889,000 2,034,000 1,913,000 2,080,000 Source: World Bank, 1990b The decline in per capita food production, chronic...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-6574
Print ISSN
0740-9133
Pages
pp. 119-128
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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