Eastern Sudan context
Photo by :ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP / Getty Images
Eastern Sudan remains one of the poorest regions among the 15 States of Sudan. As a “host community” to refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), most of the population of eastern Sudan itself suffers of acute poverty and limited development prospects, not dissimilar from those experienced by the IDP and refugee population in their midst.
The three states of Eastern Sudan—Kassala, Red Sea and Gedaref— host approximately 90,000 long-term Eritrean refugees and several thousands more Ethiopian refugees and an internally displaced population nearing 200,000. Eastern Sudan receives close to 1,600 to 1,800 new arrivals every month. For many of these displaced persons, Eastern Sudan is the first among many stops in a lengthy migration process that circuits through Khartoum, Libya and Europe.
Such ongoing displacement exerts high socioeconomic burden on Eastern Sudan and perpetuates competition and conflict amongst local host communities and those displaced. As a result, the World Bank, UNDP and the UNHCR formulated the Transitional Solutions Initiative [TSI] in 2012 to improve management of protracted displacement and pursue sustainable development interventions. The World Bank followed this up with a pilot project, Sustainable Livelihoods for Displaced and Vulnerable Communities in Eastern Sudan [SLDPI], in six selected communities to strengthen the capacity of local stakeholders, including state authorities, displaced persons and vulnerable host communities, to plan and deliver services and develop sustainable livelihoods. SLDPI closed on March 30, 2016 and followed up with SLDPII, which has been effective as of December 14, 2016.
Sectoral and Institutional Context
1-Internal Displacement and Livelihoods
According to UNHCR there were 2.2 million IDPs in Sudan, of which 147,000 were located in the three eastern States. The UNHCR lists the following groups as populations as concern: Eritrean refugees and asylum-seekers, mainly residing in the east and in Khartoum; refugees from South Sudan having fled violence in their country since December 2013; IDPs, of which several hundred thousands were newly displaced in 2014, overtaking the Office’s planning figures; people of South Sudanese origin, who have been living in Sudan since the secession and remain at risk of statelessness. Most IDPs in camps in Kassala arrived in the second half of the 1990s and early 2000s. They were displaced due to the Eritrea-Sudan war, civil war, and SAF-SPLA fighting.
High levels of cultural and ethnic diversity characterize the population of Kassala State. This is, in large part, a result of historically protracted and significant waves of migration to the area. The main ethnic groups in the state are Beja, Rashaida, Shukriya, Halaween and Kwahla. The predominant indigenous ethnic grouping in the state is the Beja. This nomenclature of tribes is comprised primarily of the Hadendowa, Beni Amir and the Halanga peoples. The Halanga tribe is particularly noteworthy insofar as it was, and continues to be the first and only fully sedentary Beja group.
IDP camps have mostly low population density and few livelihoods opportunities within them. The majority of IDP and host households depend on sparse opportunities for rain-fed agriculture and animal husbandry for economic means. They also depend on casual labor, charcoal making and handicrafts. IDPs rely to a large extent on nearby towns to purchase household supplies. Men from IDP camps in Kassala State tend to move to towns in search of work opportunities, while in their absence, women often have to assume responsibility for the household. The living conditions of IDPs are mostly similar or lower than those of neighboring communities and refugee camps.
Most IDPs with long permanence in camps or settlements in eastern Sudan have limited prospects or willingness of return to their places of origin, having established roots in eastern Sudan and weakened their kinship and livelihood links with their places of origin. Yet, the increased population density in these settlements often poses additional pressure on the already vulnerable communities that host them
The economic prospects for IDPs and host communities, not dissimilar to rural Sudan’s other vulnerable populations, is highly dependent on the surrounding natural resource environment. With agriculture and pastoralism comprising the overwhelming majority of livelihood activities for the rural poor, reliance on soil, water, vegetative cover, and other resources remain key to vitality. Competition and conflict over access to these resources between pastoralists, agro-pastoralists and settled farmers is endemic in Sudan and also contributes to regional conflict.Such conflict often leads to violence due to weak institutions for conflict management and especially weak natural resources management regimes. The effects of climate change put further pressure on already fragile ecosystems and the livelihoods dependent on them. These compound stresses of dwindling natural resources, conflict, and further displacement are inextricably linked, and togetherform a vicious cycle of instability.
Sudan’s environmental challenges stem from its geophysical conditions. Landscapes range from arid to semi-arid, with unpredictable and short rainy seasons. The country is highly susceptible to frequent droughts, localized flooding and pervasive soil erosion from wind and water.The increase in human and livestock populations puts increasingly unprecedented pressure on natural resources and contributes to desertification, land degradation, water pollution, soil nutrient loss, and deterioration of biodiversity.
Over 80% of Kassala State consists of flat plains, whereas rocky outcrops and hilly terrain comprise the rest of the area. Alluvial and volcanic deposits cover the state and beneath these clays lay Basement Complex Formations that are only a poor repository for ground water. Water sources in the state tend to be distributed along the cracks in the geological formations and in the few areas where alluvial deposits accumulate. The largest of the state’s aquifers is the Gash Basin which has an estimated storage capacity of 600 million cubic metres and runs North, from the Eritrean highlands and through Kassala Town.
Rainfall ranges from a low of around 83 mm per annum in the northern most part of the state to around 400 mm per annum across most of the southern area and fall within the arid and semi-arid rainfall zone (ASAL). The southernmost part of the state, namely Wad Al Helew locality, receives significantly larger amounts of rainwater with an average fall of 608 mm per annum over the last three decades. Effective use of rainfall is, however, hampered by its short duration, uneven distribution and high rates of runoff and evaporation. Overall, a trend of long-term decline in rainfall has been observed in Kassala State since the 1940s and the current rate of depletion is calculated to stand at 2.6 mm per annum.
Further complicating matters are poor management practices of natural resources in the Eastern Nile Sub-Basin. Prominent causes of environmental degradation can be attributed to (i) clearing of forests for agriculture, (ii) overgrazing of livestock, and (iii) overexploitation of forests and woodlands for fuelwood and charcoal. Increasing population density and weak institutional capacities to regulate activity leaves the progression of challenges predominantly unchecked.
As communicated in the World Bank’s FY 14-15 Interim Strategy Note (ISN) for Sudan, given the country’s vulnerability to climate change and the potential impacts of disasters (localized droughts and floods in particular) on the country’s economy, the Bank aims to prioritize regional action and approaches to desertification control as well as promoting climate-smart agriculture and food security initiatives in partnership with other agencies.SLDP2 seeks to build upon the project’s first phase experience to apply a bottom-up and increasingly integrated approach to supporting durable solutions for the displaced and rural poor.