Globally, Sudan brings memories of the tragic Darfur crisis that began in the early 2000s. The aftermath of this conflict is still felt, but 2019 was a momentous year for the country. Things finally started to changes. Sudan is currently undergoing unprecedented political reforms in a sweeping revolution that overthrew the 30-year long dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir. Read more to find out about these changes and the ways ZOA is supporting communities through this transition.
Sudan has experienced unprecedented change in 2019. The Sudanese Revolution prevailed, led by peaceful protestors amidst the violence that occurred on June 3rd when armed militias violently repressed the peaceful sit-in. Ever since, cautious hope prevails. Abdalla Hamdok, a respected economist, was appointed Prime Minister and subsequently named a nearly entirely civilian cabinet. A joint civilian-military sovereign council was appointed to oversee the transition and currently, a three-year transition to full civilian rule is underway. The focus remains on keeping the transition on track and nationally, to resist any sabotaging attempts by elements of the prior regime, who are still active at different levels.
Demonstrations in Khartoum
The change in Khartoum is almost palpable. Women are mobilising themselves, fighting for equal rights and speaking against social pressure that bears influence on their life choices. Demonstrations take place, demanding justice and honouring those who have passed in light of the Revolution continue. In addition, empowered, politically driven youngsters take advantage of the momentous political shift to voice their demands.
In rural Sudan where ZOA works, the uncertainty results in massive shifts in governance structures at state and locality levels. Many states are currently operating with minimal formal governments. The newly instated rulers will be confronted with civilian populations that, amid the national changes, are becoming aware of their civic rights and the democratic process they will soon be engaged in. When the transition is complete, the Sudanese population will engage in a democratic voting process. Many stakeholders outside of the government – UN agencies, INGOs, NNGOs and the private sector -will be key players in supporting this transition.
Peace and reconciliation at the local level
Within this changing context, with funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, ZOA Sudan is implementing the Strengthening Through Resilience project in South Darfur. The project so far established and trained a variety of civil society committees to address peace and reconciliation issues at the local level. The project also started training and sensitizing local authorities and civil society organizations to engage with each other to discuss and develop inclusive strategies and plans to address priority needs of communities.
In the changing context, ZOA Sudan will continue to strengthen different committees and local authorities, as the political changes in the country have affected power relations at all levels.
New dynamics have emerged, forcing changes in structures of both entities as well as demands by the empowered youth and women to have increased representation and bigger roles in the different governance bodies and core planning and decision – making processes. Issues and priorities are also changing and subjects such as land rights, return and compensation of returnees, representation and participation in the new governance structures and voicing up issues and needs of underdeveloped and marginalized areas are becoming more visible and heard.
Empowerment is crucial
Communities need to be further empowered to voice their needs in the new Sudan. The country’s momentous political changes have a strong effect in the communities we work. It makes our work even more relevant. In this time of change, ZOA Sudan is strengthening communities and making key stakeholders aware of the governance processes to come.
Clicke here to read more about ZOAs programme in Sudan.