Life for many of Sudan's population of 43.85 million (2020) is harsh. The country has suffered from years of civil war, and millions are displaced with many living in refugee camps both within and outside of the country. With a life expectancy of 65.31 years (2019) and AIDS/HIV rampant with many more dying from water related diseases, 64.75 % of the population in 2020 live in rural areas according to the World Bank collection of development indicators, compiled from officially recognized sources, and 80% of those seek out a living on the land although just 6.7% of it is arable. In recent years, Sudan has had one of the highest economic growth rates amongst Sub-Saharan African countries however there are wide discrepancies with poverty in Khartoum state affecting 26% of the population compared with 70% in North Darfur. Overall the povery rate is believed to be around 47%. The population is predominately Sudanese Arab however along the Red Sea to the east of the country are the Bedawiye (Beja) people; to the west the Fur and Zaghawa peoples; to the north the Nubian people who live and farm along the Nile whilst the south is home to the Nuba.
Historically in Sudan men and women have remained segregated although that is now changing especially in urban areas and in the south of the country, however the north remains more traditional in outlook with men and women leading virtually separate lives. In most rural areas electricity is unheard of (just 1% of the nine million in the south have access) while overall in rural areas 17.8% have access rising to 62.1% in urban areas according to the latest World Bank figures from 2016). In poorer areas just 10% of the population have access to sanitation facilities. Rural employment itself includes the production of cotton, peanuts and sugar especially along the Nile where pumps bring water to the fields from the river. Lemons, mangoes, grapefruit, paw paws and oranges are also grown. Further afield from the Nile, farmers live something of a nomadic lifestyle concentrating on rearing cattle, camels sheep and goats. These nomadic tribes include the Kababish who live in the northern Kordofan province of Sudan and the Baggara who live in Darfur and also the North and South Kordofan provinces of Sudan. Some five million others are engaged in the production of gum, making Sudan the world's largest gum exporter.
Despite being home to the White Nile, the Blue Nile and the combined River Nile, much of the Sudan is desert, particularly in the north of the country and there are frequent droughts, not only causing thirst, but destroying harvests. Water is a serious issue in Sudan where small boreholes are the main source with people walking miles, then queuing for hours to get supplies. For many women living in refugee camps, even walking to water wells presents significant dangers with many reporting rape and violence on leaving the relative security of the camps and villages. Ironically embedded within Sudanese culture is the practise of Sabeel; a tradition whereby householders will leave a jar of water outside their homes for passers by to drink from. Ironically, Sudan has the largest source of freshwater in the world, but it's underground and no real effort has been made to tap into these natural resources by the government, although many charities who are able to operate in Sudan are establishing water projects there, not only to provide essential water supplies, but to prevent social tensions, many fuelled by water access.
Sudan is a predominately Sunni Muslim country and praying five times a day, regardless of what you are doing, is an important part of daily life. Most families in Sudan have 7-8 children and the HDI (Human Development Index) which is measured by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and the World Bank based upon the life expectancy, literacy, access to knowledge and living standards of a country has Sudan in 170th place out of 189 countries and territories in 2019 (compared with 173th place for Ethiopia, 116th place for its northern neighbour Egypt but significantly ahead of South Sudan in 185th place.) Nevertheless levels of poverty and living standards in Sudan are significantly below that of other Arab states and the country is in the low human development category.
Life in Sudan: Volunteer in Sudan
Life in Sudan: Children in Sudan
Life in Sudan: Child Sponsor Sudan
Life in Sudan: Sudan Country Profile
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