3.4 million Sudanese children under five years suffering from acute malnutrition and at risk of long-term health complications and death, amid 10-month-old escalating tribal conflict. - GOAL Global Skip to content

3.4 million Sudanese children under five years suffering from acute malnutrition and at risk of long-term health complications and death, amid 10-month-old escalating tribal conflict.


February 29, 2024 • 3 min read

Mass MUAC screenings halted across Sudan for most of 2023.

Talodi, South Kordofan, Sudan – February 29th, 2024 – Eissa Hassan, GOAL’s Area Health and Nutrition Coordinator based in South Kordofan, Sudan, echoes the alarm raised on the escalating crisis facing children under the age of five in conflict-affected regions of Sudan. Hassan reports alarming indicators of rising SAM (Severe Acute Malnutrition) rates among young children, with admissions to GOAL-supported stabilisation centres in Rashad and Talodi increasing from 546 in 2022 to 607 in 2023, marking an 11% surge despite significant obstacles in conducting large-scale community nutrition screenings due to the ongoing conflict.

Speaking about the expected increase in severe malnutrition, Eissa Hassan, GOAL Sudan’s Area Health and Nutrition Coordinator, said:

“Malnutrition is certainly underreported. Records from GOAL’s inpatient Stabilisation Centres (SCs) and Outpatient Centre (OTPs) have revealed that the majority of SAM cases were admitted as result of self-referrals, as community-based, mass MUAC screenings could not be conducted for most of 2023. GOAL teams in South Sudan are now starting to conduct screenings in South Kordofan and expect to see cases increasing dramatically in 2024.”

“The malnutrition crisis in Sudan is further exacerbated by widespread cases of severe diarrhoea reported across the country. The destruction of water and sanitation facilities heightens the risk of water-borne diseases, amplifying the humanitarian emergency. Young children who are already malnourished are more vulnerable to these diseases and at severe risk of illness or death and it is estimated that 3.4 million children are already malnourished, of whom 690,000 are severely malnourished, continued Eissa Hassan.

In North Darfur, recent nutrition screening data paints a dire picture, indicating that nearly one in three children under five years may already be malnourished. Rates of SAM and GAM (Global Acute Malnutrition) among the children GOAL has screened are at 4.5% and 29%, respectively. Compounding the crisis, treatment centres have been forced to close due to the conflict, resulting in severe shortages of life-saving therapeutic food supplies.

Children receiving treatment for acute malnutrition in a health facility in Talodi, funded by ECHO and BHA

Also speaking about the impending humanitarian disaster in Sudan, Nathan Kennedy, GOAL Sudan’s Programme Director, said:

“Six million people have already been internally displaced by this conflict which erupted in April 2023, and it is estimated that eighteen million people are acutely food insecure as livelihoods have been shattered. Now, families are dealing with limited access to nutritious and optimal food, basic health services, safe and adequate water, and sanitation services. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one out of eleven health facilities supported by humanitarian agencies in Sudan no longer function due to access issues stemming from the constant violence, further impeding the delivery of essential medical supplies and services.”

GOAL is intensifying efforts to address the escalating crisis, recommencing screenings in South Kordofan with the expectation of a surge in cases in 2024. Urgent international intervention is required to alleviate the suffering of millions of vulnerable children at risk of death and lasting health complications.

The GOAL-supported health facility/stabilisation centre in Talodi, Kordofan, Sudan, is supported by USAID’s BHA (Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance) and ECHO (European Commission Humanitarian Aid).