February 23, 2010 (KHARTOUM) – The US Agency for International Development (USAID) will reopen a food secuirty analysis system in North Sudan that had been closed since 1992. Today the US signed an implementation protocol that will end up costing it nearly US $1 million.
The protocol for US $950,000 re-establishes the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) project in the fifteen states of northern Sudan. “The provision of timely and analytical food security information will help to predict and manage the threats of food insecurity,” said a statement from the US Embassy in Khartoum
The US government has already spent some $4 billion on humanitarian aid in Sudan since its fiscal year 2004.
Sudan’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry joined with the Ministry of International Cooperation in signing the deal. The agriculture ministry will be the primary focal ministry to work with FEWS NET, with particularly close collaboration envisioned with the newly formed inter-ministerial food security coordinating body, the Food Security Technical Secretariat.
State-level ministries are also supposed to become involved with the famine warning network, “and will look for opportunities to help build their capacity for monitoring and analyzing natural and manmade impact on food security.”
“The U.S. Government looks forward to a long and productive relationship with the Government of National Unity in support of the FEWS NET project, which aims to improve information sharing and analysis on critical issues related to food security,” stated the embassy.
This follows a period of high-level engagement between Sudan and the U.S. including a visit by US envoy Scott Gration on Sunday at the presidential palace. Gration met with Vice President Ali Osman Taha and saidin remarks afterwards, “It is wonderful to be able to meet with the people that I have gotten to know as the leadership but also as friends. I have just completed a meeting with Vice President [Ali Osman] Taha, where we reviewed the status of the progress between Chad and Sudan, efforts in Darfur to bring a lasting peace, and efforts to fully implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.”
FEWS NET is a system that is used elsewhere in east Africa including Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti and Ethiopia. It is used in South Sudan already.
In January the FEWS NET issued a warning for South Sudan, saying “the food insecure population in south Sudan has significantly increased since the beginning of the year following escalated inter?tribal/clan and cattleraiding conflicts during 2009, combined with poor rainfall and crop performance across the country.”