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Title:Indigenous institutions and adaptation to famine: the case of western Sudan
Author:Sukkary-Stolba, Soheir
Book title:African Food Systems in Crisis. Part 1: Microperspectives
Geographic term:Sudan
Subjects:food policy
Abstract:This paper describes the dynamic processes that were adopted by individuals vis--vis indigenous institutions as they were faced with food scarcity and famine in western Sudan, Kordofan and Darfur during the years 1981-1985. It is shown that, faced with this major crisis, rural populations in western Sudan used numerous strategies to survive. Indigenous institutions and leaders played a crucial role in providing money, support, and food in the early stages of the crisis. However, with depleted resources, local leaders redefined their roles from that of provision of financial support to provision of emotional support, and advice to people migrating in search of food. Moreover, the traditional values of hospitality and sharing were tested because of the continuation of the drought. The decrease in rainfall forced farmers to change their traditional diets and utilize their knowledge of the edibles in their habitat. Roots, wild berries, and tree bark played a more significant role in individuals' daily food intake. The paper draws on data from fieldwork in Sudan in 1985 and from nutritional surveys done by Oxfam/UNICEF, League of Red Cross, etc. Note, ref.