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Evaluation report

2003 SUD: Analysis of Nine Conflicts in Sudan



Executive summary

Background:
In 2002, UNICEF and UNDP, in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE), commissioned a conflict survey and analysis, with the objective of mapping out the various grassroots conflicts in 12 States of Sudan. The states covered by this analysis have over 32% of Sudan's 32 million population lying mostly in the central part of the country, with the exception of Equatoria. The two UN agencies had a common interest in their attempt to address grassroots conflicts in Sudan in accordance with their mandates. They also faced a common problem: inadequacy of data on conflict and peace, especially in areas of/at risk of violent conflicts. The study identified a number of grassroots conflicts in the nine focus states in northern Sudan targeted by the MICS survey and in accessible areas in South Sudan. Several indicators suggest that a number of areas, in particular those termed as "transactional areas", in Sudan will continue to experience conflicts in future, with varying impacts on the post-conflict situation of the country. Such areas include Darfur and Kordofan, the Upper Nile Region (in particular, Jonglei and Unity States), and Eastern Equatoria.

Purpose/Objective:
The present study looks into further details on some of the specific conflicts, focusing on regions of important significance for peace building and mainstreaming into service delivery. The objective of the study is to provide an in-depth analysis of the conflicts in selected areas for program planning and project design purposes, especially in post-conflict process. The study attempts to identify the political economy of the areas, the dynamics of the conflicts, including a brief historical account, the factors and principal key stakeholders in the conflicts. Selected conflicts, with a geographical focus on the Sobat valley, the Nuba Mountains, South Darfur, West Kordofan, Bahr El Ghazal and Equatoria, areas that are targeted by the grassroots peace building supported by UNICEF within the context of it Country Program in Sudan for 2002-2006.

Methodology:
Some of the areas in this report fall within what are generally referred to as the "transitional zones" in reference to the current area of the "civil war" in Sudan. The description and analysis of the communities in these areas will be from the point of view of grass-roots conflicts whose impact on service delivery and future stability of the areas appear to be significant. The report will attempt to present a brief synopsis of each conflict area with regards to the historical background of the conflicts, their root causes, the main stakeholders, and impact on the communities. The principal physical characteristics of the areas will also be summarized in so far as they are relevant to the understanding of the conflicts among the communities, in particular the points that affect the livelihoods and relations of the communities, especially their influence on the present agricultural and pastoral economies of the inhabitants. The information given should be sufficient to assist in the discussion of the potentialities of the areas for development options for alternative livelihood interventions in order to reduce or eliminate conflicts or threats to future conflicts.

The data used in these cases is derived from the reports of the 2002 Conflict Mapping Survey and Analysis. Visits were made to two areas: Ed Daein in South Darfur and Sobat/Canal Area in Upper Nile in order to fill the gaps in the information collected during the previous survey. Additional information was obtained from historical and other secondary sources.

Findings and Conclusions:

On the face of it, many grassroots conflicts in Sudan are characterized as resource-based and are predominantly between agriculturists and pastoralists. Environmental degradation may be an apparent cause of some of the current conflicts. The concentration of large populations in the few areas meant an increase in the use of the resources. This appears to be an oversimplification of a complex and dynamic situation of conflict whose root causes may be traced to history and early contacts among the various groups. The triggering factors might be competition over resources and unequal access to, and distribution of, resources, both national and local. The pluralistic nature of Sudan is reflected in the conglomeration of many tribal groups that descended from different cultural backgrounds. The groups in Sudan are social, regional and cultural units to which the members share a common sense of belonging.

The civil wars in Sudan appear to be a clear manifestation of a country that has failed to form a nation-state from its diverse racial, cultural, and religious groups. The current civil war has changed the traditional relationships among ethnic and tribal groups. While tribal conflicts existed in the past over the ownership and use of natural resources, the warring parties have now translated these conflicts into political ethnic conflicts, and support to groups by parties to the civil war in Sudan is based on traditional conflicts. It is true that the Nuer and Dinka in Upper Nile, the Dinka and the Baggara, and Dinka/Bari and Mundari competed over the ownership and use of natural resources, mainly grazing land and cattle. Today, this conflict has taken a much wider political dimension, which has been manifested in the internal divisions among the various groups in the rebel movement and within government control areas. The Dinka and the Baggara have traditional conflicts over grazing land in Bahr el Arab. Today, the north-south conflict has magnified this conflict, and various national governments' arming of tribal militias in the area has political under-tones. This is true for the groups in the Nuba Mountains. Inter-ethnic conflicts in Darfur have for a long time been described as "armed robberies" by "armed bandits". It appears that these "armed robberies" have developed into full-blown rebellions against the Central Authority, mainly because of the glaring inequality in regional development in Sudan

A number of indicators suggest that some communities in Sudan will continue to experience conflicts in future, though they may be at reduced intensity. Such areas include north Darfur and Kordofan, the Upper Nile Region (in particular, Jonglei and Unity States), and Eastern Equatoria. Potential areas of continued conflicts in Upper Nile include the Sobat Corridor. The present civil war has resulted in permanent settlements of Nuer in areas traditionally regarded as Dinka land on the River Nile. The split in the SPLA/M in the early 1990s resulted in the eviction of large numbers of Dinka from villages north of Bor. The Nuer tribe currently occupies these villages. The present areas of oil exploration will also be future areas of conflicts as the population is expected to return to their original lands when the current civil war ends.

The north-south divide will pose a major point of future conflict among communities living in these areas. These areas include Abyei, Hufrat El Nahas, etc. The border between Upper Nile and South Kordofan could become a source of future conflict if the present trend of land annexation continues. The area of Upper Nile along this border is becoming an important source for Gum Arabic collection, and traders come to collect it annually. In order to protect these traders, some of the local authorities in South Kordofan re-adjust the borderline. Members of the State Assembly in Upper Nile expressed some concern over this trend and its future implications.

The present grassroots conflicts, together with major civil war, have several negative consequences on the lives of the people of Sudan. The population lost not only their way of life but also their properties, including animals. It has resulted in the disruption of the social fabric of the tribes in parts of Sudan. Families have become separated as a result of displacement. The role of the social institutions, which used to operate to hold together families and communities, have been weakened.

Conflicts have affected the production potential of the rural population and, coupled with nature, it has rendered the local population unable to produce enough food for their survival. Many inhabitants have lost their cattle since the start of the current war, especially after 1987. Cattle acted as cushion during times of food deficit. The animals are likely to have been further depleted as a result of increased raids by the Baggara and this has become a major cause for the depletion of the Dinka cattle. Household food security has been severely affected by the conflicts in many areas of Sudan. Some evidence suggests that the soils around these towns, where most of the population in government control areas cultivate, are no longer capable of sustaining continued production under the current farming practice where sorghum and millet are the dominant crops. The traditional shifting agricultural production system, which is known to be stable and biologically efficient, is no longer feasible because of the current war.

Recommendations:
Conflict prevention in Sudan needs efficient instruments either from inside or outside the country. These instruments include tackling the causes of conflicts and crisis, such as poverty and risks to national basis of life at their roots. Making a real improvement in the social and economic living conditions of the people and changing the political framework conditions, with the aim of creating structural stability, are the best basis for development, which encourages peace, sharing of wealth and power and enabling communities to plan socio-economic change in situation of violence and conflict. An important element of successful development in a post-conflict situation is the ability of authorities to control the number of small arms and weapons that are now widespread among the different groups involved in conflicts. It is argued and accepted that a "human rights-based response will contribute to an effective and sustainable resolution of the small arms problem in a conflict and post conflict situation. Specific interventions should include strengthening social institutions and mechanisms, for example by supporting democratic reforms advising the government in organizing its legal systems, and promoting the civil society. The conflict resolution mechanism works according to the traditions of Native administration, where the native administration plans and executes means of conflict resolutions. The role of civil society organizations has become important since some of the stakeholders in the current grassroots conflict are important members in these organizations. It is observed from various efforts and discussions that the resolution and/or mitigation of grassroots conflicts in Sudan is a must, although the end to the current civil war could reduce many such conflicts in many parts of the country.

But while poverty, which is the result of lack of development, is prevalent in most of the regions, grassroots conflicts will be hindrances to any effort to eliminate or reduce it. How these conflicts can be ended may depend on how the parties to the conflict accept the basic principles of equity and justice in the distribution and use of resources. Poverty eradication is an important instrument of intervention in conflict mitigation and resolution in Sudan in general. But, it must be understood as a product of complex structural processes imbedded in the political economy of the country. Within this complexity, identifying the key causes of poverty is a precondition for formulating an effective anti-poverty strategy. The primary causes of poverty in the Sudan can be summed up in the failure of the state-led development strategies since independence, including the more recent macro economic reforms. Compounded by the burdens of natural disasters and civil wars and conflicts, this failure has manifested itself in the limited and inequitable access to all forms of capital, physical, financial and social development. Deprivation from capital leads to lack of remunerative employment and increased poverty.


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Report information

Date:
2003

Region:
MENA

Country:
Sudan

Type:
Study

Theme:
Emergency - Response

Partners:
Ministry of Higher Education, UNDP

PIDB:

Follow-up:

Language:
English

Sequence Number:
2003/010

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