Poor harvest and an early start of the lean season put the Blue Nile and South Kordofan on alert in the first semester of 2019
Erratic rains, scarcity of seeds and insecurity hampered the planting of crops and have undermined the harvests across the two states. Nearly 520,000 people � more than 50 per cent of the population � are moderately food insecure, according to the FSMU August-October quarterly report. Around 40,000 people are facing severe food insecurity � an improvement if compared to previous months and 2017, mainly due to the jibraka (near farm) harvest.
The gains are, although, very fragile and the current reduced food production will certainly require a scale-up on the humanitarian assistance in the regions to avoid a further deterioration of the situation.
In South Kordofan, where the main harvest that started in December is still ongoing, insufficient yield is being reported in Thobo (Buram), in Western Kadugli, as well as in large parts of Western Jebels. In Blue Nile, communities mainly planted in near farms, due to insecurity and scarcity of seeds. The erratic weather and consequent pest affected the production and the harvest is reportedly being poor. Wadaka payam, in Southern Kurmuk county, is one of the most affected of the monitored areas. According to local secretariats, only 10 per cent of the crops are being harvested. In Komo Ganza, although the situation is slightly better, only 40 per cent of the crops are being harvested, which is not sufficient to improve access to food among the population.
Lean season could start earlier
After an early start to the season, erratic rains during planting forced farmers to shift to short cycle crops. According to FSMU, in October jibraka crops of short duration such as sorghum, vegetables and maize. This is far below the figure registered in October 2017, when 81 per cent of the families were harvesting. Farmers were upbeat about the main sorghum harvest beginning in November, although they still predicted lean season shortfalls.
Due to the shortcomings, including pests hampering the production, the start of the lean season for communities is predicted to be as early as February in Blue Nile. In Western Jebels in South Kordofan, only two payams are expected to be surplus areas in this main harvest season, while the rest of the region yield is expected to last until March only. In Western Kadugli, only sorghum is available in the market, and an increase in prices of groundnut and cowpeas were seen between November and December in Dellami and Heiban. The CU is closely monitoring the situation.
Renewed political and economic crises compound the fragile humanitarian situation
Growing insecurity and inflation of more than 70 per cent has pushed people to return, adding pressure on existing food stocks. At least 900 families have reportedly returned to different parts in Southern Kordofan, fleeing the conflict and the dire economic situation. New refugee movements were also reported. At least 200 of those families returning came from refugee camps in South Sudan to Thobo county and West Kadugli. According to UNHCR, although the number of new arrivals to settlements in Unity in December 2018 was significantly lower than in December 2017, the total number of refugees in the camps is over 115 000 and is the highest since 2013.
This fragile humanitarian situation urgently requires a broader approach to address the food security situation in Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
Source: Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust