Poverty in Sudan

Poverty in Sudan

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Poverty in Sudan

Although Sudan has some of the largest deposits of natural resources and minerals, the country has encountered immense poverty and human suffering since the 1970s. Faced with a wide variety of issues ranging from the failure of public policies, food shortages, droughts, political unrest, unemployment, and the civil war, the situation in Sudan makes it one of the poorest countries worldwide. From both a practical and theoretical perspective, this essay aims to examine the poverty situation in Sudan. It will also discuss how proper governance is integral in promoting effective and sustainable ways to deal with extreme poverty in the oil-rich nation.

An Overview

Sudan, located in the sub-Saharan Africa region was the largest country on the continent until 2011 when Southern Sudan attained its independence through a referendum. According to recent statistics, Sudan came third as the largest producer of oil in the sub-Saharan region behind Nigeria and Angola―making it one of the countries in Africa with a promising economic outlook. The country has also shown great improvements in terms of per capita income, recording a per capita GDP of US $1,500 as of 2010. However, the country has equally suffered immense political unrest, economic struggles, and ethnic violence in the last four decades― resulting in the loss of more than 1.5 million lives, destruction of property and economic instability. This has led to the reduced infrastructure development, inequality, high unemployment rates, sectarianism, resource course, and poor quality of life for millions of Sudanese (African Business, 2010).

The long period of civil war paralyzed many development projects in towns and rural areas, something that contributed to increased food shortage, poor sanitation, social unrest, and lack of access to basic public amenities such as schools, markets and hospitals (Farah & Sampath, 2001). With a total population of at least 37 million people as of 2011, the country has one of the highest growth rates in the sub-Saharan region. However, high rural poverty rates, low educational levels, HIV/AIDS prevalence, food shortages, high illiteracy rates  and the unequal distribution of resources contributes to the widening gap between the rural middle and upper class with the rural and urban poor populations (Carlson, 2011).

A number of structural issues have marred the road to sustainable development and democracy in the country, specifically the long-term armed conflict and political instability. According to Abdalla (2008), many development projects in both urban and rural areas have often been undermined by the uncertain and highly sporadic armed conflict in most parts of the country. Combined with an external debt of about US$38billion as of 2010 and overreliance on oil, these country-specific issues pose immense challenges of social development, governance, and poverty reduction in the country. Other challenges such as gender discrimination in employment, housing, and political participation continue to disadvantage the participation of women in the overall developmental framework of the country (Carlson, 2011).


While the implementation of efforts to promote employment and productivity in the country has improved in the last subsequent years, such interventions have failed to produce holistic, mass-scale results. Many of the poor in the urban and rural areas have no access to clean water, proper sanitation, electricity and other basic services. The informal settlements around the cities represent a haven of crime and other human suffering, with children and women being the most affected groups (Sweetman, 2002).

Proper Governance

Good governance is instrumental in developing and implementing appropriate institutions to promote peace and development. Such interventions are also integral to ensure proper shift of resources and attention from the conflict to investing in the future of the country and its people. There is a need to improve education and training opportunities across the country to promote literacy and public knowledge (Ghosh, 2010). This can help to strengthen unity, peace, and economic development― thus creating an environment viable for constructive democracy in Sudan. Institutional reforms in Sudan are also significant in redefining its position in global affairs. Institutional changes can help the country currently recovering from a civil war to deal with different intractable challenges and political uncertainty. This could be achieved through peace building, promoting national cohesion, support of entrepreneurship, good leadership, fight against corruption and other forms of political opportunism (Dagdeviren, 2006). Restoring the rule of law is critical in attracting both domestic and international investments, and one that can contribute to increased equality before the law, accountability, and one that can contribute to increased equality before the law, accountability and human development (Mbaku, 2013).

Significant Sources

Carlson, S. (2011). Struggling in Sudan and South Sudan. Network News, 31(2), 11-12.

The article reports on the harsh economic and political conditions in Sudan and South Sudan―one of the newest nation and the fourth poorest in the world. The researchers noted that the various economic difficulties in the country are driven by various factors including sporadic armed conflict, food and fuel shortages, and lack of infrastructural to support development. Information in this report will help in examining the overall poverty situation in the country.

Abdalla, A.M., (2008).Poverty and inequality in urban Sudan: Policies, institutions and Governance, PhD thesis. Retrieved on 03/02/2014 from: https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl /bitstream/handle/1887/ 13106/ASC-075287668-1015-01.pdf?sequence=2

This article provides critical background information on the poverty problem and economic inequality in Sudan.  The article argues that the challenge of poverty in Africa emanates from the lack of proper institutional frameworks to support sound policies for improving governance, public participation, and economic stability. This research will provide essential background information on poverty as a multi-faceted issue, which requires all stakeholders to implement efficient and sustainable livelihood framework to address its impacts on Sudanese.

Mbaku, J. (2013). Evaluating Poverty Elimination. Harvard International Review, 35(1), 72-77.

The report covers the various top policy priority in Africa to support peace and economic stability in most of the poverty-stricken countries. One of the key strength of the article is how it highlights the importance of the rule of law and proper governance in ensuring positive political and economic development. The article will prove useful in adopting a poverty-alleviation framework for the case of Sudan.




Abdalla, A.M., (2008).Poverty and inequality in urban Sudan: Policies, institutions and

Governance, PhD thesis. Retrieved on 03/02/2014 from:



African Business, (2010). Sudan at the crossroads. (cover story). (2010). African Business,

(362), 12-18.

Carlson, S. (2011). Struggling in Sudan and South Sudan. Network News, 31(2), 11-12.

Dagdeviren, H. (2006). Revisiting privatization in the context of poverty alleviation: the case of

Sudan. Journal of International Development, 18(4), 469-488.

Farah, A. M., & Sampath, R. K. (2001). Poverty in Sudan. Journal Of Asian & African Studies

(Brill), 30(3/4), 146.

Ghosh, B. (2010). Birth Pains. Time, 176(13), 40-4

MBAKU, J. (2013). Evaluating Poverty Elimination. Harvard International Review, 35(1), 72-


Sweetman, C. (2002). Gender, development, and poverty. Oxford: Oxfam.