The killing of protesters by security services during large-scale demonstrations in the Sudanese capital Khartoum in June underscores the ongoing political tensions in the country. In this context, the UN is committed to maintaining and strengthening peace in Sudan, say UN Resident Coordinator Khardiata Lo Ndiaye and Elizabeth Spehar, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support peace.
“The military coup of October 25, 2021 has plunged Sudan into a political crisis with profound implications for the country’s development and prospects for peacebuilding.
He also posed a difficult question to donors: how do we meet our commitment to support the most vulnerable Sudanese without legitimizing unconstitutional change?
While political crises clearly present challenges for international donors, the UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) works to respond to these crises in a targeted and strategic manner to ensure that the essential aid continues to reach those who need it most.
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Peacebuilding projects are on the rise
Amid political tensions, inter-communal conflict, large-scale displacement, economic crises, deepening inequality, 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 financing, even in high-risk environments like Sudan. Since the coup, the PBF’s active portfolio and project pipeline has grown to span twelve states, demonstrating that when crises strike, its commitment doesn’t wane – it grows stronger.
Alongside other projects – including its flagship program which aims to strengthen the rule of law and support local peacebuilding in Darfur’s five states – the PBF added six new projects to the portfolio in 2021, and four more are in preparation.
These pipeline projects include a new initiative in the disputed territory of Abyei and a $10 million investment in eastern Sudan, both of which take an area-based approach to stabilize conflict-affected communities and strengthen their resilience to future crises.
Based on an assessment of conflict hotspots and main conflict drivers for each area, the projects draw on the expertise of four UN agencies – UNICEF, UNDP, IOM and the FAO to help restore access to basic services, including water and sanitation, roll out support for livelihoods and job creation programs and strengthen community-based conflict resolution and natural resource management.
Empower local communities
So how do you navigate the complex political landscape to ensure support reaches those who need it most?
Part of the answer lies in the community-based approach of PBF, which empowers local communities, promotes inclusive participation and builds the capacity of local governance and other community structures. In addition, this approach improves relations between the different actors; promotes local ownership; directs funding to community organizations by expanding partnerships with CSOs; and highlights women and youth as agents of peaceful change and inclusive development.
As Sudan’s peacebuilding trajectory remains fragile and uncertain, the support of the international community – at the right time and in a targeted manner – is essential. So the question is not whether development and peacebuilding partners should stay engaged, but how to stay engaged. Through its investments, the PBF empowers local actors to respond to the rapidly changing situation on the ground in Sudan and ensures relevant and reliable support to those who need it most.”