Sudan has faced substantial changes as a result of the independence of South Sudan in 2011, including the loss of human and land resources and three quarters of the country’s oil wealth. Sudan’s land area today is 1.9 million km² and it has approximately 35.5 million people, of whom 65 per cent live in rural areas.
With oil reserves lost, growth has faltered and government revenues slumped, while the country’s debt problem remains unresolved. Poverty and undernourishment, already serious, have worsened.
Unemployment is 19.8 per cent in rural areas, and 24.7 per cent for women. Nationwide the poverty rate is estimated at 47 per cent, but that reaches 58 per cent in rural areas.
So enhancing the performance of agriculture, including crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry, is vital for poverty reduction. Agriculture generates 35-40 per cent of GDP, according to the World Bank, and employs 70-80 per cent of the labour force in rural areas. But productivity is low and variable because of erratic climate conditions, degraded soils, low poor technologies and lack of knowledge.
In livestock husbandry productivity is low because of disease and parasites, sub-optimal breeding, reduced access to traditional range resources.
Ongoing armed conflict also impairs farming in some areas.
The main constraints on rural livelihoods are access to markets, access to financial services, unpredictable water shortages, and barriers to livestock migration.
The Government of Sudan is committed to structural reforms and tackling the roots of poverty, introducing several measures to benefit farmers and the poor.
In Sudan, IFAD loans help to increase agricultural production through environmentally sustainable practices and distribution of improved seeds.
Activities target the needs of rural poor people in the rain fed farming sector and help them build resilience against climate change. IFAD also supports improved access to services and markets in rural areas through infrastructure and is developing partnerships with private-sector and service-provider networks.
In line with government decentralization policies, IFAD projects help empower local communities and promote good local governance.
Key activities include:
- fostering community dialogue around sensitive topics including natural resource management;
- promoting land reform;
- harmonizing resources for nomads and farmers; and
- promoting equitable distribution of resources through participation of local communities in decision-making.
In addition, projects financed by IFAD integrate measures to ensure representation of women and youth in grass-roots organizations and on project management teams, as well as ensuring access to microfinance for women in remote rural areas.
Sudan remains a highly-indebted country that has accumulated sizeable external arrears. At end-2014, Sudan’s external debt was $43.6 billion in nominal terms, of which about 85 per cent was in arrears.
Sudan has been a priority country for IFAD for more than 20 years.
Two out of three Sudanese, or almost 24 million people, are estimated to live in rural areas.