Macroeconomic Policies for Poverty Reduction: The case of Sudan
Sudan is a low-income country, with income per capita of less than US$ 400. With its vast geographic area and varied natural resources, it holds great economic potential. So far, however, it has been a land of missed opportunity. It is also a land of great diversity: ethnically, geographically and ecologically and it faces the challenge of utilizing/capitalizing on such diversity to achieve development and eradicate poverty.
Sudan is the largest country in Africa and the ninth largest in the world in terms of area (2.5 million square kilometres). It shares extensive borders with nine countries. Because of its vast area, the country embraces many climatic and ecological zones. Diversity is also reflected in its people; and as a result, the country is multi–cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multireligious.
According to CBS/UNFPA estimate, the total population amounted to 32 million in 2001, the large majority of whom (about 70 per cent according to the 1993 census) live in rural areas. This might have changed due to substantial rural to urban migration in recent years, though it is unlikely that this would have significantly changed the overwhelming rural nature of the population. Given Sudan's size compared to its total population, the country is sparsely populated. Furthermore, the mostly arid climate and unpredictable weather conditions leave vast stretches of the country subjected to episodes of extreme drought and/or substantial flooding.
The low level of average per capita income masks wide regional disparities in economic and social development. Educational levels are low, health conditions are poor, and the burden of disease is heavy and widespread. Infrastructure (roads, river traffic, railways power, water, telecommunications, as well as irrigation facilities) is either non-existent or underdeveloped and inadequate. In this area as well, regional disparities are huge and the little that exists is run down due to prolonged neglect of necessary maintenance and upkeep. Large migrations of trained and skilled Sudanese to the oil-rich Gulf countries since the early 1970s contributed to the considerable deterioration in the quality and effectiveness of Sudan’s institutional capabilities, which are necessary when dealing with these structural problems. These factors have been further aggravated by a difficult political situation following independence, all contributing to a vicious cycle of political conflict, civil disturbances and underdevelopment. (IPRSP Draft, Jan., 2004).