A Report on the Relationship Between Nutrition and Climate Change in Sudan and South Sudan

8 October 2021

The countries of Sudan and South Sudan are both extremely venerable to food insecurity and malnutrition. They separately suffer from climate compromises that have drastically worsened due to climate change and show little to no signs of improvement. Sudanese food stability relies on successful agricultural yield, and due to a tropical climate with already intense rainfall variation, climate change presents a severe threat to this stabilisation.

Sudan and South Sudan are conflict-burdened, with war forcing families to flee their land or give up labour to fight. Opposing sides can also use food restriction as a weapon to weaken their opposition, which leaves a traumatised mindset around food access even after the conflict ceases. Recent nutritional surveys have reported severe food and nutrition insecurity.


In South Sudan specifically:

34% of South Sudanese women aged 15-49 years suffer from anaemia (not having enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body, leading to tiredness and weakness).

31.3% of children under 5 years old suffer from stunted growth.


In Sudan specifically:

Approximately 2.7 million children under five suffer from malnutrition.

Two million children are out of school, meaning widespread misinformation regarding nutritional needs and harmful taboos are directly affecting the upcoming generation. More than 19,000 of these children have been recruited into armed forces.

Sudanese health is still affected by disease outbreaks such as Measles, pneumonia and Malaria.


How does climate change specifically threaten nutrition and food stability?

Climate change, caused by worldwide human and industrial influence, make weather conditions more extreme and drastically affects earthly landscapes. These fluctuations directly threaten food stability (a region’s reliable access to food for its citizens). People need a variety of foods to get the necessary nutrients for healthy living. Malnutrition- caused by food insecurity- leads to frequent infections and disease, taboos and poor feeding practices, hazardous weather and sanitation and inadequate health services.

For South Sudan, there is an unpredictable annual variation of already extreme weather events. Flooding and droughts can halt agricultural production and severely restrict mobility, stopping households from accessing necessary food and resources.

Female-headed households are especially venerable as they almost entirely rely on agriculture to sustain their families. The extreme climate threatens natural supplies of water and firewood, and as such, these families are at increased risk to disease and malnutrition.

The tension caused by increasingly extreme climate conditions worsens pre-existing communal conflicts between herders and farmers over land, water and grazing space. With restricted resources and access, these conflicts weigh heavily on the agricultural communities.

Flooding and droughts weaken agriculture-dependent communities and heighten competition over resources, leading to crimes such as cattle rustling/ raiding. This is a stock-theft common in South Sudan and has lead to the death of hundreds.

In Sudan, there are hazardous rainfall patterns. Droughts and flooding are both increasingly common and severe, threatening the regions rainfed crops and pastoral systems. These agricultural zones are the primary source of income and food for most of the Sudanese rural population.

Ongoing conflicts in Sudan have displaced more than 2.4 million people, exposing them directly to the harsh and worsening weather. Finding new homes can be incredibly difficult in a region so affected by war and conflict.

Due to rising sea levels, ecosystems in key coastal zones are decimated by increasingly common cyclones and storms. The disruption of the ecosystems natural balance can have unforeseen consequences on the region’s food supplies.

All of these factors contribute to two regions sharing similar severe food instability. These difficulties all go hand-in-hand with other disasters that the countries are often subjected to, as well as regionwide civil war, extremely dangerous conditions and violence. Spreading awareness and being conscious of your own carbon footprint are good ways to start helping the crisis in Sudan and South Sudan, as well as keeping up to date with the news on climate change and humanitarian access.

By Amber Hogan, HART Volunteer




‘Country Nutrition Profiles’ Global Nutrition Report,

‘Climate, Peace and Security Fact Sheet- South Sudan’ Sipri,

‘Malnutrition in Sudan’ Unicef,

‘Risk of malnutrition and starvation among children in South Sudan’ Scaling Up Nutrition,

‘Cattle rustling: from cultural practice to deadly organised crime’ Releifweb,

‘Risk of malnutrition and starvation among children in South Sudan’ Scaling Up Nutrition,

‘Climate Risk profile: Sudan’ Climate Links,


Although all blog posts are reviewed by an editorial team, our blog authors all write in a personal capacity and the views expressed are not necessarily those of HART.

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