Rising costs of transportation, groceries and basic necessities are putting immense pressure on Sudanese consumers as the Sudanese pound continues to weaken against major international currencies. Reports of deaths from malnutrition and starvation are trickling across the country, confirming a food crisis repeatedly highlighted by aid agencies.
The US dollar is sold on Khartoum for SDG578 parallel market todaywhile it is still around SDG447 according to the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS).
The Khartoum Chamber of Transport and Communications has set a new, fixed fare of 25 SDG per kilometer for public transport in the state. People in the Sudanese capital criticized the decision, saying it will result in a 50 percent increase in transport tariffs for some lines.
Economic analyst Hafiz Ismail told Radio Dabanga he expects this decision to be worse than similar instructions before and most likely will not be implemented. He said that public transport vehicles are already no longer complying with official transport tariffs and have been pushing prices higher for some time due to very high running costs, especially fuel and spare parts.
The Sudan Teachers Committee says the monthly cost of living for a family of five is about SDG 580,000.
In a report published on its Facebook page earlier this week, the committee said monthly expenses include rent, water, meals, clothing, electricity, transportation, medical treatment and education. Research focused only on basic needs.
The report found that Sudan lags behind Arab and African countries on the minimum wage, which is $21.50. According to the report, the average teacher salary in Sudan covers 13.3% of a family’s monthly needs.
Gamariya Omar, a member of the Sudan Teachers’ Committee, said that Sudan today Broadcast on Radio Dabanga that the committee conducts research on the minimum cost of living every year.
Reports of starvation have surfaced in Sudan in recent months, highlighting a growing food emergency that is spreading from rural to urban areas.
It is estimated that almost 12 million people – a quarter of the Sudanese population – are currently suffering from acute hunger. That number could reach as high as 18 million when the “lean season” ends this month, according to aid agencies – twice as many as in 2021.
Economic and political disorder, exacerbated by a coup in October 2021, is adding to the high levels of hardship. But conflict, climate shock, and an exploitative political economy that has long fueled hunger are also driving the crisis.
“We don’t have basic services and children are dying from malnutrition,” said Ahmed Adam from East Kassala, which has one of the highest rates of malnutrition in Sudan. “We want the government and international organizations to help us.”
Adam, 48, was speaking from a health clinic in Kassala, which The New Humanitarian visited last month to better understand how hunger is affecting people. His wife suffered from anemia, a blood disease often caused by malnutrition.
Reports from aid agencies suggest food insecurity will remain high in the coming months: the next harvest season could be marred by delayed planting due to delayed rains and rising operating costs, while recent flash floods have damaged farmland.
In the past, hunger in Sudan has mostly hit the rural population and war victims who have moved to the outskirts of the cities. But the current economic crisis – amplified by the Ukraine war – has deepened food insecurity in urban areas as well.
“Sudan has faced hunger before, but never in the last century has it faced such widespread, sustained and acute levels of hunger as it does today,” says a recent report by the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University.
Abdelrahman Mohamed, a resident of the capital Khartoum, is one of many struggling to survive. “In the current living conditions, life is impossible,” he told The New Humanitarian. “There is a lack of fuel, cooking gas and flour.”
Hasan Mahmoud, a 44-year-old plumber from Khartoum, added that incomes have not been able to keep up with soaring prices in local markets. “A life of dignity for the underclass, even the middle class, is almost impossible,” Mahmoud said in an interview in April.
Several leading Sudanese researchers argue that humanitarian aid will not solve food insecurity. They say change requires structural reforms in a political system where rulers have long placed survival ahead of the needs of rural populace.
Sudan’s foreign exchange, for example, comes mainly from exports derived from rural production. But the money raised has historically funded bread imports for city dwellers – a more important constituency for Khartoum than rural sorghum eaters.
Military and political elites have also maintained their rule by waging vicious counterinsurgency campaigns in rebellious peripheries. These wars have led to starvation crimes and the destruction of rural livelihoods.
Decades of displacement have created a pipeline of landless laborers working on commercial farms across the country. They often don’t have enough money to buy the food they produce.
“The deeper crisis is that Sudan’s political economy is structured in an unequal and exploitative manner that produces both widespread chronic hunger and intermittent humanitarian emergencies and famines,” the Tufts University report said.