World Food Day, 16 October 2022 - Speech by Mr. Eddie Rowe, WFP Representative and Country Director in Sudan
World Food Day is commemorated each year on 16 October.
This year’s day is marked under the theme “Leave No One Behind: better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life”.
Yet, this year, there is little to celebrate, as the global food crisis leaves hundreds of millions of people battling acute hunger. Along with known culprits—the fallout of conflict, COVID-19 and climate change —is another fearsome enemy: skyrocketing prices for food and other key basics, especially since the start of the war in Ukraine.
As we all know, food insecurity in Sudan is alarming, and the country is witnessing the highest number of people facing food insecurity in recent history. As per an FAO/WFP report, Sudan is among the hunger hotspots of very high concern with an estimated one-third of the population facing food insecurity. Sudan is also among 48 countries that are most affected by the global food crisis as per the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
For WFP Sudan, we are witnessing this across the country. Almost all families are spending at least two-thirds of their expenditures on food alone, leaving little left over to cover other basic needs – including education for their children.
Take Hauwa Mustapha, an internally displaced woman in North Darfur and her ten children, for example. Hauwa has been living in Al Salaam IDP camp in El Fasher for nearly two decades. Her children and now grandchildren are growing up in displacement, with little economic opportunities.
With Sudan’s food prices climbing more than 140% percent in a year, Hauwa can barely afford basics like oil, sugar and flour, even with the WFP cash assistance that she receives. She says that on days when she is lucky, she can land a daily wage job on the market or making bricks. Other than that, she has little opportunities to earn a steady income to feed her family.
Hauwa says the price of a simple cup of flour has doubled in just a few months and the prices for okra, bread, sugar and oil all just continue going up. Even though she receives support from WFP, she struggles to make ends meet and feed her family.
It’s precisely to support Sudanese like Hauwa and their families that WFP is here – not only to provide a life-line but also to help find long-term solutions to addressing food insecurity.
Yet, funding from international donors is not keeping pace with rising humanitarian needs across Sudan. As our needs outstrip available resources, WFP is forced to cut or stretch food or cash assistance to many hungry people, to prioritize the most desperate.
In the last year, WFP has had to make many heart wrenching decisions in Sudan. We have been forced to halve the rations for all refugees and IDPs across the country, meaning that people are only receiving the equivalent of around 1,000 calories per day, rather than the full 2,200 calories.
Our nutrition activities that treat and prevent moderate acute malnutrition for pregnant and nursing women and children under five are only 50 percent funded for the year.
Furthermore, our school meals programme, which provides lunch for children at school, is also deeply underfunded. WFP however remains committed to providing school meals, but we urgently need more resources to continue these programs next year.
I can tell you – these are incredibly tough decisions to make, when I meet women like Hauwa – who at no fault of their own are bearing the brunt of multiple crises in Sudan.
Yet, amid the challenges we are facing, there is also hope. Hope for longer term solutions that can address the underlying causes of food insecurity in Sudan, along this year’s World Food Day theme: Better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life.
Together, we must work hard to increase agricultural productivity, help people become more resilient to shocks, build social safety nets that can support the most vulnerable through trying times and most of all – ensure that the dietary and nutrition needs of children are met, so that the future generation of Sudan can thrive and flourish.
These solutions require every one of our collective efforts.
Let us continue working to put hope into action to ensure that no one is left behind.