Publication: Psychological Distress One Year into the COVID-19 Pandemic: Results from the Fifth Round of the Household High-Frequency Monitoring Survey (HFS) in Sudan

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Farfán, Gabriela
Gayoso de Ervin, Lyliana
Osman, Eiman
Aziz, Azza Ahmed Abdel
The outbreak of COVID-19 coincided with a period of significant economic, social, and political challenges in Sudan. The most significant of these were related to the recent establishment of a transitional government in August 2019 after the fall of the ruling regime due to the revolution that started in December 2018 and succeeded in toppling the government in April 2019. But the optimism around the political developments were accompanied by marked fluctuations in the economy that were further exacerbated by the pandemic. Between March 2020 (the first wave of the pandemic) and June 2021 (the time of this survey) inflation went from 81.64 percent to 412.75 percent, and the Sudanese pound severely depreciated. While the government introduced a package of reforms aiming at restoring macro-economic stability, soaring commodity prices and shortages of power and fuel, are some of the economic challenges that fueled social and political unrest during this period. The first COVID-19 case in Sudan was confirmed on March 13 of 2020, and soon after, cases started to increase. As in many developing countries, evidence suggests that COVID-19 exposure was significantly more prevalent than that indicated by officially reported cases. The speed of propagation of the coronavirus and the uncertainty around how to prevent it led to the implementation of different preventive and control measures in the first quarter of 2020, including restrictions on activities and the promotion of preventative health measures. 3,4 The government implemented two lockdowns aiming to restrict mobility. The first lockdown implemented from March to June 2020 was strict. Initially it only allowed activity until 10am, and it gradually extended to 1pm and eventually to 6pm. The second lockdown (September - December) was more lax. Furthermore, adherence to the timeframes set by the government was highly correlated with socio-economic status. Middle-class segments of Sudanese society were able to comply more readily than their less economically privileged counterparts. As a result, only the major thoroughfares were empty. In contrast, gatherings, public prayers, social life, and market congregations were largely maintained in neighborhoods of lower socioeconomic status.
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Farfán, Gabriela; Gayoso de Ervin, Lyliana; Osman, Eiman; Aziz, Azza Ahmed Abdel. 2022. Psychological Distress One Year into the COVID-19 Pandemic: Results from the Fifth Round of the Household High-Frequency Monitoring Survey (HFS) in Sudan. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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