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Ibrahim El-Salahi Pain Relief at The Saatchi Gallery, London

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Blinding sand storms, extreme heat, acute food shortages, rocketing prices, power cuts, intermittent water supplies, no internet access and ever more crowded and costly public transport  – just some of hardships facing Sudanese enduring lockdown. 

This months blogpost is dedicated to all our staff in Khartoum. They continue to work  long hours from home, organizing practical, material support to our literacy facilitators and sponsored elementary school pupils while preparing to resume our teaching and development operations as soon as it is safe to do so.

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“We are facing a really difficult situation these days as we have no electricity for more than ten hours a day – that’s every day –  throughout Sudan.  This started two weeks ago and will go on for another two weeks. Inflation stands at 114% and market inflation is now 700%.” 

“The poor are suffering more than ever as they depend on daily wages and they can’t go downtown to work. It is even more difficult when it comes to medicines because there’s an acute shortage of medical supplies and at the same time they can’t get into hospital if they are ill.  Many don’t even realize that they have Covid and they are dying because of this.” 

Mrs Neimat Issha, our Country Director, pictured above, and Mrs. Adila Osman, our Literacy Coordinator, below, on life in Khartoum under the Covid-19 lockdown over these past few weeks. 

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This is a literacy post for Women’s Education Partnership.  See At a Glance for more on our mission and impact.  

Covid-19 will severely curtail the life opportunities of women and girls. See Coronavirus Sudan Stepping Back from the Abyss 4 The Impact on Women

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Please consider giving to our life-changing orphans and women’s literacy work. It is never more needed than now. Just click on the link below to donate quickly and securely:

 Virgin Money Giving

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Children’s education has been severely disrupted by Covid-19. Many will never return to school when lockdown ends. 

Covid-19 Sudan July Update  

The Figures   The Context   Our Response 

The Figures 

Below, Coronavirus figures for late June/ early July. 

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Coronavirus in Africa Tracker

Health Minister, Akram El-Tom speaking in May this year, cautioned that official figures underestimate Sudan Covid-19 infection rates and warned “The undermining of the health authorities and the precautionary social distancing measures are the primary reason for the rapid increase of the pandemic”. (Sudan Reports 8,889 coronavirus cases, EU provides aid fund.)  

It is believed that 14 out of the 17 states outside Khartoum are now reporting rapidly increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The vast majority of cases, however, are in Khartoum (6,663 cases).  Sudan is claimed to have the highest incidence of infection and death in East Africa. 

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Khartoum before lockdown, late 2019. 

The Context 

“Unless people commit to social distancing and other preventative measures, they will simply die. Health Minister El-Tom, reported in Middle East Eye. 

As infections continue to rise in Khartoum, a health service already stretched to its limits battles acute drugs shortages.  Lockdown measures leading to border closures and severe disruption to exports have aggravated Sudan’s chronic hard currency shortfall, leaving pharmaceutical companies unable to secure supplies of even basic medicines. Out of the 27 factories covering 45% of Sudan’s drugs needs, only 19 are reported as still operational.  A country with a 55-million dollar monthly medical import bill has been importing only 9 million since the start of the year.  Sudan reels from Drugs Shortages as Virus Spreads.

“Our stores and hospitals have run out of stock of some life-saving drugs and after two weeks we will run our of most medicines, including infusion fluids….Our medical cadres are working without protective gear and other medical supplies. They are working in very tough circumstances, so there is a big risk to their lives.  Health Minister, El Tom quoted in Middle East Eye. 

Although there are now two Covid-19 only dedicated hospitals in Khartoum, high infection rates among medical staff threaten to feed further outbreaks and worsen frontline staff shortages. Many, especially the elderly, are suffering the collateral impact of Covid as hospitals and health centers stay closed and treatable conditions remain unattended. 

The realities outlined in Coronavirus in Sudan – Stepping Back from the Abyss The Health Context  remain unchanged and if anything, have become more alarming. 

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A Khartoum drinks stall before lockdown. 

Lockdown has intensified the pressures on a fragile economy, inflation is sky rocketing, as Neimat notes above,  and Khartoum is suffering severe food shortages, coupled with soaring prices in basic commodities.  For many, securing basic food supplies is the one and all-consuming reality. Lockdown has disrupted both internal supply chains and externally sourced foodstuffs and locust plagues throughout East Africa have worsened chronic food insecurity. (weforum.org) Fuel shortages, the withdrawal of fuel subsidies and rising oil prices are making transport prohibitively expensive.  

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See Coronavirus in Sudan Stepping Back from the Abyss Part 2 Economic Impact for a more detailed overview of the economic impact of Covid-19. 

As wealthier western nations prepare for growing social unrest upon the re-introduction of  local lockdowns and stifled economies,  Khartoum’s fragile government suffers faltering public confidence, mistrust and  growing disillusion. News is only available on line in a country estimated to have only 26% internet penetration, leading to increasing levels of misinformation.  Recent mass demonstrations throughout Sudan, rioting in Covid-infected prisons in eastern Sudan, violent unrest and incidence of ethnic and religious-based violence threaten to heighten tensions and further increase infection rates.  

Coronavirus Sudan Stepping Back from the Abyss 3 – Lockdown

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Khartoum market before lockdown measures were imposed. 

What We are Doing

Every day that lockdown continues, educational opportunities for the poorest shrink away.  With families no longer earning wages, many young girls will be unable to continue their schooling or go to university.  To counter this, we are working both to set up vocational training programs for young women and to bring in teacher training programs for the elementary school staff we support to ensure that our sponsored pupils stay in school and flourish.  More on these important projects in coming posts.  

In the meantime, we continue our community follow-up in all our literacy centres, providing  practical and Covid-19 prevention support. We are following up with all the elementary schools and pupils we support as we prepare for the easing of lockdown towards mid-July. 

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Learn more about our elementary school program in From Hardship to Hope Our Orphans Schooling Program, our Covid-19 prevention work in On the Front Line Coronavirus Prevention

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This is a literacy post for Women’s Education Partnership.  See At a Glance for more on our mission and impact.

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Please consider giving to our life-changing orphans and women’s literacy work. It is never more needed than now. Just click on the link below to donate quickly and securely:

 Virgin Money Giving

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