The killing of protestors by security services during large-scale demonstrations in Sudan’s capital Khartoum in June underscores the ongoing political tensions in the country. Against this backdrop, the UN is committed to sustain and build peace in Sudan, say UN Resident Coordinator Khardiata Lo Ndiaye, and Elizabeth Spehar, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support.
“The military coup of 25 October 2021 plunged Sudan into a political crisis with profound implications for the country’s development and peacebuilding prospects.
It also presented donors with a difficult question: how do we uphold our commitment to supporting Sudan’s most vulnerable without legitimizing an unconstitutional change?
While political crises clearly present challenges for international donors, the UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) is working to respond to such crises in a targeted and strategic way to ensure that essential support continues to reach those who need it most.
Peacebuilding projects expand
Against a backdrop of political tensions, inter-communal conflicts, large-scale displacement, economic crises, deepening inequalities, rising unemployment, devastating floods and popular protests for democratic reforms, the PBF has remained active in Sudan.
The PBF has the advantage of being an agile, adaptable and demand driven fund, enabling it to provide desperately needed funding even in high-risk environments like Sudan. Since the coup, the PBF’s active portfolio and project pipeline has grown to cover twelve states, demonstrating that when crises strike, its commitment does not falter – it strengthens.
Alongside other projects – including its flagship programme which works to strengthen the rule of law and support local peacebuilding across the five Darfur states – the PBF added six new projects to the portfolio in 2021, with four more in the pipeline.
These pipeline projects include a new initiative in the disputed territory of Abyei and a USD 10 million investment in East Sudan, both of which adopt an area-based approach to stabilizing conflict-affected communities and enhancing their resilience to future crisis.
Based on an assessment of conflict hotspots and key conflict drivers for each area, the projects leverage the expertise of four UN agencies – UNICEF, UNDP, IOM and FAO to help restore access to basic services, including water and sanitation, roll out livelihoods support and job creation schemes, and strengthen community-level conflict resolution and natural resource management bodies.
Empowering local communities
So how do we navigate the complex political landscape to ensure support reaches those who need it most?
Part of the answer lies in the PBF’s community-based approach, which empowers local communities, promotes inclusive participation and strengthens the capacities of local governance and other community structures. In addition, this approach helps to improve relationships between different actors; fosters local ownership; directs funding to community-based organizations by expanding partnerships with CSOs; and foregrounds women and youth as agents of peaceful change and inclusive development.
With Sudan’s peacebuilding trajectory remaining fragile and uncertain, support from the international community – at the right time and in a targeted way – is critical. The question, then, is not whether development and peacebuilding partners should remain engaged, but how to remain engaged. Through its investments, the PBF is empowering local stakeholders to respond to the rapidly evolving situation on the ground in Sudan and ensuring relevant and reliable support to those who need it most”.
The UN Resident Coordinator
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This blog was written by Elizabeth Spehar, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support and Khardiata Lo Ndiaye, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan.
Learn more about the UN Peacebuilding Fund and the work of the UN in Sudan.