Together towards a better tomorrow
How the PROSPECTS partnership is creating an enabling environment for refugees and host communities in West Kordofan
At the edge of Sudan, about 250 kilometers from the world’s most newly created nation of South Sudan lies the communities of Kharasana, Al Meiram, Ghubhaiysh and Babanusa. With underlying destabilizers such as political and economic instability, and the COVID-19 pandemic, these localities house internally displaced people, refugees from South Sudan and host communities. Despite multiple socio-economic challenges, hope runs high and the energy to work towards a better tomorrow is tangible.
The global PROSPECTS partnership, funded and championed by the Netherlands, currently reaching eight countries in the Middle East and East Africa, is a source of hope for the people of Kharasana and Babanusa. It aims to enhance the enabling environment for socio-economic inclusion of forcibly displaced persons, enhance access to education, training and protection for host and displaced children and young people, and strengthen inclusive socio- economic development. The project delivered with collaborative support from UNICEF, UNHCR, and ILO, to provide holistic and sustainable solutions to the challenges faced by communities in Kharasana, Al Meiram, Babanusa and Ghubaiysh.
In May 2022, a delegation comprising of representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and the Embassy of the Netherlands in Sudan, ILO, UNHCR, and UNICEF visited the communities to meet with the lives being touched by the PROSPECTS partnership.
As we drove into the quiet town of Babanusa, we met with the community under the generous shade of a Babanus tree. The consultation that ensued with the representatives for women, youth, internally displaced people, the refugees and host community put forth myriad challenges faced by the community. The erstwhile bustling industrial town, that once boasted a flourishing milk factory, the second largest of its kind in all Middle East in the 1980s, now struggles with youth unemployment, low trade activity, strained resources, and shortage of running water. The Opportunity Fund hosted within the PROSPECTS Partnership, is working to improve inclusion of women in the hibiscus value chain, increase employment opportunities for refugees, IDPs and host communities and engage with the community for building social cohesion skills. With a focus on women empowerment, and through the construction of women centers, the initiative also aims to provide skills training and capacity building for women also tackling some of the reasons that marginalise women, which include maternal and child health, through the construction of Motherhood and Childcare Centers.
The delegation then moved to Kharasana which hosts refugees from South Sudan, internally displaced persons, and the host community. The PROSPECTS partnership support has enabled the building of a youth centre which will serve as a platform for developing the meaningful engagement of youth and the provision of employability-enhancing, life and leadership skills training(s). During a focus group discussion, the youth revealed their hopes and aspirations for further developing planned activities in the future and presented additional creative ideas on how the youth centre could be pivotal in realizing them. They were brimming with ideas, including the setting up of a computer lab, a linguistic centre, ideas for capacity building specific to women, gender transformative training, special projects for people with disabilities, livelihood projects, just to name a few. Their ideas were well fleshed out with visions of long-term sustainable impact in their personal lives and that of their community. The youth also want to be an active part of driving this change. As part of peace building committees with members of the host, IDPs and refugee-communities, they support conflict resolution and advocate for peaceful coexistence. This makes it easier to negotiate with their communities and helps them to see beyond their differences.
In walking distance from the youth centre is a primary school for refugee children. The delegation was welcomed with an energizing and melodious song by the bright young students, orchestrated by the youth of the community. One could see how various sub-groups in Kharasana come together to make a harmonious whole. In the primary school the PROSPECTS partnership has enabled the training of teachers on teaching and pedagogy methodology, lesson plan development and provision of uniforms and learning materials for the students. Through the intervention, refugee children are enjoying their right to access schools and enjoy an education, away from home. A consultation with the Parent-Teacher Association, revealed needs for additional equipment, running water and specialized training in curriculum development to enhance the capacities of the teachers.
Next to the primary school is a mixed secondary school, which aims to encourage more children to continue their education and reduce the load on the existing secondary schools in Kharasana. PROSPECTS enabled the construction of the school and it will be operationalised in the upcoming academic year 2023.
Inside the refugee settlement of Kharasana, lies a primary health clinic that is currently being rehabilitated through the PROSPECTS partnership support which will benefit both the refugees and host community, thereby reducing the load on the Kharasana clinic.
As we celebrate World Refugee Day today, it is important to stand in solidarity with the refugees and ensure they too enjoy equal rights wherever they are. The PROSPECTS partnership seeks to provide avenues for communities (internally displaced persons, refugee, and host communities) to realise their dreams and aspirations with life-changing impact. The electric energy we witnessed while interacting with people of Babanusa and Kharasana is a beacon of hope that has the power of creating sustainable change.