Mobilizing efforts for peace in Sudan
In a dusty side road in the big city of Omdurman, “Mama” Aisha Juma has carved out her niche. What started as a small childcare centre for neighborhood youths a few years after her demobilization has blossomed into something much more. After years of providing support services to the war effort, Aisha decided to use the small business support from the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) Programme to refurbish her small centre.
This transformed the once derelict building into a sparkling facility; adding new classrooms, increasing enrollment and hiring two additional teachers to help cope with the workload. Aisha now manages the kindergarten with four staff and noted, “My economic situation is good, my income is improving and additionally my project has allowed me to employ three more people. The fees are affordable for all families and now the kindergarten is getting bigger which ensures a real future for my project.”
There are thousands of stories like Aisha’s throughout Sudan. From the arid plains of North Kordofan to the verdant mountains of Blue Nile, UNDP and the Sudan DDR Commission (SDDRC) have maintained their presence on the ground despite a conflict that has ravaged much of the southern part of the country throughout 2012.
The onset of war has cast serious doubts on the appropriateness of continuing DDR in the current context; however as a driver for peace - alongside a meaningful Community Security and Arms Control (CSAC) component - DDR has proven that a powerful alternative exists to violence and warfare.
Recent community perception surveys reveal what common sense dictates: that people are fed up with conflict, are fed up with interminable suffering and lack of opportunities. DDR is a tool that requires sufficient political will to fully take root and but nonetheless it continues to serve as a driver for peace in uncertain times. It can be a light in a region shrouded by the darkness of war for far too long. As one community member in South Kordofan stated during a UNDP DDR sensitization project, ‘Mobilizing Efforts for Peace’, “The only way to resolve conflict is for people to become sensible. They should sit down and have the courage to discuss peacefully and without arms. They should put their weapons down.”
In 2012 alone, over 13,000 men and women from different cultures and backgrounds, from different parts of the country and different force affiliations received economic reintegration support.
Former fighters and their fellow community members also received social reintegration support through civic education, psychosocial support, health services and literacy trainings. Many people from rural areas also benefited from eight CSAC interventions, such as schools, community centres, water points and police stations that show tangible benefits to communities that choose an alternative to conflict.
DDR alone will never solve conflict in Sudan nor will it completely dissuade former fighters from picking up arms again. But it will definitely provide an alternative through viable livelihoods and it will give hope to the millions of Sudanese ravaged by decades of conflict and insecurity.
The DDR Programme is made possible through the generous support of the Government of Norway, the Government of Japan, the Government of Spain and the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (PBF).