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How a Metastasizing Food Crisis Threatens Sudan’s Stability: A Dispatch from Khartoum


Vegetable Market – Khartoum Bahri-Sudan (2012) Photo by, Asim Al-Rasheed Al-Tom

By Peter Schwartzstein, Journalist in Residence

At 10am on a midweek summer morning, the village of Hasa in Sudan’s River Nile state feels all but abandoned. Stray dogs idle in the shade; vultures peck at what remains of a cow carcass. Only in the Nile-side fields, where a few elderly farmers labor, is there any kind of activity. “This is the time when we need to prepare the land. There should be more of us,” the head of the local agricultural association said. “But everyone’s stopped farming. It’s just not possible.”

The scene is similarly disconcerting at the Souk Al-Shaabi, the main market in Omdurman, just across the river from Khartoum. Vendors here struggle to sell anything other than their cheapest produce. Shoppers barter extra furiously, ultimately coming away with many fewer goods than before. At the souk’s entrances, growing crowds of beggars plead for alms – or at least the odd morsel of fruit or vegetable. (more…)

Four North African Nations Sign Water-Sharing Agreement Plan

Photo by DAVID HOLTFour nations, Chad, Egypt, Libya, and Sudan, have signed a Strategic Action Programme (SAP) over the sharing of the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System.  The aquifer lies beneath the four nations and is the largest known “fossil” or non-renewable system in the world.  According to a press release by the International Atomic Energy Agency: (more…)

A Flood of Flood Reports: A global list of recent events

Mandakini-left-bank-broken-bridge-rudraprayag-sangam-gIn the past few weeks, we’ve noticed an unusual number of articles about significant flood events that are occurring, or have recently occurred, around the world.  Though it is far too soon to determine whether or not these floods are associated with climate change, projections for global rainfall variability suggest that more extreme and unpredictable flooding is likely in our future. The first step in preparing for such a future is recognizing and calling attention to these extreme events, and their real human security implications. Such reports are easily lost in the shuffle of the daily news cycle, so we’ve compiled a comprehensive list below. (more…)

Fragile States Add Climate Change and Ocean Acidification to List of Woes

A new report by Oceana shows just how connected our oceans are to human well-being, and how even small changes in the ocean’s pH levels, coupled with climate change, can have profound consequences for security. According to the report, by the middle of this century climate change and ocean acidification may dramatically heighten food insecurity among nations and territories that are heavily dependent on the oceans for sustenance. The report gauges a country’s likely “vulnerability to food security threats from climate change and ocean acidification” by assessing the exposure of its fisheries to climate change and ocean acidification, its dependence on fisheries as a source of sustenance for its population, and its adaptive capacity. (more…)