Context of the Crisis
Sudan recorded the first COVID-19 case on 13 March 2020 and, at the beginning of July, the Federal Ministry of Health had confirmed that nearly 10,000 people had contracted the virus, including over 600 who died from the disease across the country. Although more than 70 per cent of the confirmed cases are in the Khartoum area, COVID-19 has spread throughout the country, with the highest numbers recorded in the central and eastern states. With extremely low testing capacity — around 800 samples per day, the lowest in the region — the official figures of confirmed cases likely underestimate the extent of the pandemic and the actual situation is unknown.
Despite the Government, humanitarian partners and local organizations' efforts to increase awareness about the risks of COVID-19 and how to prevent transmissions, social/physical distancing and other practices have not been widely adhered by the population. Stigma, denials, misinformation, and rumours have emerged as key challenges to the COVID-19 response, preventing positive health seeking behaviour in the affected populations.
The COVID-19 pandemic comes against a backdrop of increasing humanitarian needes, as communities grapple with multiple and simultaneous shocks. The ongoing economic crisis, years of conflict, back-to-back drougths and floods, and disease outbreaks continue to lead to displacement, high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition that affect the lives and livelihoods of many Sudanese.
The necessary COVID-19 containment measures adopted by the Government will inadvertently exacerbate the economic crisis , while the high inflation continues to erod families’ purchasing power. According to the IMF, the economy contracted by 2.5 per cent in 2019 and is projected to shrink by 8 per cent in 2020 as a consequence of the pandemic. Inflation is very high and rising—114 percent in May—, the Sudanese Pound continues to depreciate rapidly and there are chronic shortages of fuel, cooking gas and bread. The closure of borders reduced internal movements for goods and people and reduced remittances (estimated at about $3 billion per year) due to the COVID-19-induced global economic slowdown is likely to impact people’s wellbeing. The anticipated depreciation of the local currency and a reduction on exportations may lead to an increase in the cost of imported goods in local markets, including wheat and other essential commodities. Curfews and restrictions on movement will have a particularly high impact on the urban poor - many of whom rely on casual day labour to survive.