Sudan is situated in northern Africa, with a coastline bordering the Red Sea. It sits at the crossroads of sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, with fertile lands, abundant livestock, and manufacturing. However, the country has been beset by conflict for most of its independent history and, under the terms of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the southern states seceded to form the Republic of South Sudan in July 2011. The current conflict in South Sudan continues to strain and put pressure on Sudan, with more than 189,000 South Sudanese refugees having entered Sudan since December 2013 as well as a drastic reduction in cross-border oil flows. In addition, longstanding disputes in Darfur, South Kordofan and areas bordering South Sudan (such as Abyei) remain.

The near absence of inclusive public institutions that can adequately mediate demands for power and wealth sharing between the center and the periphery has been an underlying source of fragility and conflict in Sudan. The unequal allocation of public resources and access to natural resources are main drivers of conflict, feeding into a potent mix of ideology, ethnicity and socio-economic marginalization that threatens to pull the country further apart.

The secession of South Sudan induced multiple economic shocks. The most important and immediate was the loss of the oil revenue which accounted for over half of government revenues and 95% of exports. This has left huge macro-economic and fiscal challenges, much reduced economic growth, and double-digit consumer price inflation which, together with increased fuel prices, triggered violent protests in September 2013.

Sudan did not use the oil windfalls to invest in human development, diversify its economy, or promote private sector growth. Political instability, corruption and economic uncertainty compromise the enabling environment for business development, growth, and employment (2010 Investment Climate Assessment). Other constraints include inadequate infrastructure services (e.g., transport and electricity), access to finance and taxation policies.

Agriculture and livestock are essential to Sudan’s economic diversification (away from oil) and could contribute to medium-term macroeconomic stability. While these sectors presently contribute approximately 35 to 40 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), they could contribute significantly more with greater investment and better governance. Sudan now recognizes the need for greater attention to agriculture and livestock, as reflected in its Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (I-PRSP) and the Five-year Program for Economic Reforms approved by its parliament in December 2014.

However, Sudan remains a highly indebted country that has accumulated sizeable external arrears and has been in non-accrual status with the World Bank Group (WBG) since 1994. At the end of 2013, Sudan’s external debt stock stood at $45.1 billion in nominal terms, about 85% of which was in arrears. While the country is eligible for debt relief under the Highly-Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, it must come to an amicable understanding with its main creditors in partnership with South Sudan.

Poverty and Social Developments
Sudan has wide and deep swaths of poverty and stark inequality between regions. Poverty estimates set the average rate of poverty incidence at 46.5% (2009 National Baseline Household Survey), indicating that some 15 million people are poor. But the poverty incidence numbers mask significant regional disparities. Poverty in urban areas (especially Khartoum) is significantly lower than rural areas, which account for 60% of the country’s population and 80% of its poor. Poverty incidence in North Darfur is approximately three times that of Khartoum and more than twice that of River Nile State. Also of note are the disparities between settled and nomadic populations who constitute 9% of Sudan’s population and 14% of its poor.

Gender-based disparities are also substantial with Sudan scoring very low in global measures of gender gaps and female empowerment. Severe gender gaps exist across a range of sectors, with rural areas faring worse than urban. In education, for example, nearly two-thirds of Sudanese women have less than primary education, compared to just over half of their male counterparts.

Human development indicators remain low and Sudan ranks at 166 out of 187 countries in the 2014 UNDP Human Development Index. Net primary school attendance rate is only 67% with huge disparities across states and gender. The 2012 Education Status Report, as well as UNICEF’s 2014 Sudan Country Report on Out-Of-School Children, note the compounding negative impact of poverty, rural-urban disparities, and gender; poor girls living in rural areas are among the least likely to access educational opportunities. Indicators for nomadic and displaced populations are also poor.

The main determinants of poverty in Sudan include:

  • sustained and multiple conflicts, which undermine opportunities for economic and social development, which in turn feed longstanding grievances driving fresh conflict
  • a dependence on oil which has resulted in the neglect of agriculture and livestock sectors as well as alternative sources of energy
  • the unequal distribution of fiscal resources and access to natural resources, especially between the center and the periphery, and
  • governance failures as reflected in poor policy credibility and implementation as well as inadequate incentives for private sector investment and participation. 

Last Updated: Oct 01, 2015

The overarching goal of the World Bank Group (WBG) is to support extreme poverty reduction and enhance shared prosperity in Sudan. In this context, the WBG  Interim Strategy Note (ISN) has been structured around two pillars: managing the economic transition; and addressing the socio-economic roots of conflict, with a cross-cutting focus on governance and gender. In support of its strategy for Sudan, the WBG continues to build a dynamic portfolio of projects now approaching $140 million by mobilizing third-party financial resources (largely through Bank-managed multi-donor trust funds).  The World Bank Group’s portfolio includes investments in education, natural resources management/climate change, and public financial management. In parallel, the WBG’s technical analysis and assistance supports its deepening dialogue on economic diversification, poverty, and private sector development.

The WBG’s current strategy and portfolio lay the groundwork for a future strategy that will effectively target poverty reduction and enhanced prosperity in a sustainable manner once Sudan clears its arrears, reduces its debt burden to sustainable levels, and gains access to International Development Association (IDA) funding and other concessional development financing. While the short time frame of the ISN would not allow monitoring poverty outcomes over its life span, the WBG together with the African Development Bank (AfDB), will support the production of a new round of poverty data to be available in 2015/2016 as well as related analytical products to inform the development of the full PRSP.

The selectivity of WBG interventions is driven by:

  • alignment with the pillars of the Bank’s strategy;
  • compliance with the Government’s national development priorities; and
  • availability of resources through partnership mechanisms.

Given the ongoing economic transition, knowledge will continue to be key to helping Sudan identify a path towards inclusive and shared growth. Therefore, WBG engagement continues to have a strong emphasis on knowledge across the program, with particular attention to dissemination activities with government and non-government stakeholders in and, outside of Sudan. Examples include the recently-updated Diagnostic Trade Integration Study as well as a forthcoming Country Economic Memorandum. Given the current lack of access to IDA funding, the WBG program will continue to be resourced through trust funds, partnerships, and Bank Budget.

Last Updated: Oct 01, 2015

The World Bank Group’s (WBG) engagement with Sudan, mainly through the $590 million Multi-Donor Trust Fund-North (MDTF-N) from 2005-2013, has supported 15 projects that helped reconstruct or build basic infrastructure, provide services and revitalize national institutions. The WBG continues to leverage a $120 million portfolio through trust funds and partnerships with a primary focus on knowledge and technical support for extreme poverty reduction, stability and better economic governance.

  • Education: The MDTF-N has been instrumental in boosting school enrollment for nearly 0.5 million pupils (49% girls) following the construction or rehabilitation of over 514 schools, three teacher training institutes, and the training of more than 11,000 teachers.
  • Health: In four states targeted by MDTF-N activities, health facility data shows that between 2009 and the end of 2012: annual per-person outpatient consultations increased from 0.16 to 0.30; the share of pregnant women attending at least one antenatal care consultancy increased from 48 to 69%; and the proportion of total births attended by skilled health staff (including trained village midwives) increased from 19 to 51%.
  • Improving Gum Arabic production and marketing: Sudan is the world’s largest exporter of raw Gum Arabic, a food stabilizer used in soft drinks. It is a key sector for employment generation and poverty alleviation in Sudan’s rural areas contributing about 15 to 25% of household incomes. The Revitalizing the Gum Arabic Production and Marketing Project has supported some 130 Gum Arabic Producers’ Associations (almost 10% of the total number of GAPAs) and provided seed funds for production and marketing activities.
  • Livestock: This is an ongoing project supporting a series of pilot activities that address the priorities of pastoral communities in livestock production and marketing. As an example, six livestock markets and 28 watering points have been constructed/rehabilitated which has contributed to an increase of animal heads sold annually.
  • Microfinance: The MDTF’s Microfinance Development Facility Project has contributed to the creation of the microfinance industry.
  • Public sector capacity building: MDTF-NS activities also focused on increasing transparency and public sector accountability and addressing capacity gaps in key economic governance functions. Key outputs have been: 3,905 government officers trained on fiduciary, planning and related management issues; 327 senior government officers trained on intergovernmental fiscal relations, procurement, public finance, project management, monitoring and evaluation; and 156 administrative buildings were rehabilitated.
  • Community-Driven Development: Under the CDF, local communities in four targeted states have strengthened their systems for, as well as expanded, the delivery of basic services. This included 567 schools, 99 primary health care facilities, 163 water points, 26 community centers, as well as the construction/rehabilitation of 97 solar power installations benefitting more than two million people. 

Last Updated: Oct 01, 2015

Despite the December 2013 closure of the $590 million Multi Donor Trust Fund – North (MDTF-N)—active since 2005 and the main vehicle for implementing investment, financing up to 15 investment operations –the Bank’s footprint of investment and knowledge activities remains large. The current portfolio includes several investment projects financed through the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the Global Environment (GEF) Facility, and the State and Peacebuilding Fund Strategic Initiative (SPF –SI).

In addition, to replace the MDTF-N, the World Bank Group’s (WBG) Board of Executive Directors approved the new Sudan Multi-Partner Fund (SMPF) on April 10, 2014 which is now operational with initial donor commitments of over $11 million along with approximately $15 million in parallel government financing.

Last Updated: Oct 01, 2015


Sudan: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments