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Darfur is a region in western Sudan. An independent sultanate for several hundred years, it was incorporated into Sudan by Anglo-Egyptian forces in 1916. Darfur covers an area of some 493,180 square kilometers - approximately the size of France. It is largely an arid plateau with the Marrah Mountains, a range of volcanic peaks rising up to 3,042 meters in the center of the region. Darfur is divided into five states: Central Darfur, East Darfur, North Darfur, South Darfur, and West Darfur.
Darfur Conflict and Peace Process
A conflict in Darfur erupted in 2003 when armed groups from Darfur rebelled against the government of Sudan after a complex web of grievances built up to become increasingly violent and ethnically oriented. Following intensive negotiations the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) was signed between the Government of National Unity
(GoNU) and the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) faction, led by Minni Minnawi in May 2006. The Darfur Peace Agreement, however, did not succeed in stabilizing the region, and the lack of recognition of the DPA by several parties to the conflict, led to a failure to secure a comprehensive peace in Darfur.
In July 2007, an African Union/UN hybrid peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) was deployed to Darfur. UNAMID has the protection of civilians as its core mandate, but is also tasked with contributing to security for humanitarian assistance, monitoring and verifying implementation of agreements, assisting an inclusive political process, contributing to the promotion of human rights and the rule of law, and monitoring and reporting on the situation along the borders with Chad and the Central African Republic.
The peace momentum gained new momentum in December 2010, when representatives of the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), an umbrella organisation of ten rebel groups, formed in February 2010, started a fresh round of talks with the Sudanese Government in Doha, Qatar. Following 20 months of intensive negotiations, the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) was signed in July 2011. While it is primarily an agreement between the LJM and the Government of Sudan, the signatories have continued to call upon other actors and movements to sign onto the agreement. Its seven chapters provide a comprehensive framework for peace and development in Darfur that includes the need for establishing structures and rebuilding institutions for governance and security, ensuring immediate, mid-term and long-term recovery of livelihoods for individuals and communities affected by the conflict (including IDPs, refugees), supporting community dialogue, justice, truth and reconciliation mechanisms, and, most importantly, identifying funding sources for all of the above through development and reconstruction funds as well as a dedicated bank.
Transition from humanitarian assistance to recovery and development
The DDPD invigorates the peace process and lays the groundwork for a stable, peaceful, and prosperous Darfur. Darfur’s recovery, however, is not without challenges. In addition to the massive conflict-driven disruption of Darfur’s economy over the last nine years, Sudan’s economy now also faces difficult hurdles. Following the large economic shock caused by the loss of oil revenue, due to secession of South Sudan, the economy contracted by 3.3% in 2011 and is expected to fall by a further 11% in 2012. The overall fiscal deficit is expected to increase to 3.7% in 2012. Both policy reforms adopted by the Government in June 2012 that incorporate necessary austerity measures and the implementation of the recent agreement with South Sudan on oil-related issues, should create a gradual improvement in Sudan’s economic and financial conditions in 2013 and 2014. Nonetheless, Sudan’s recovery will depend critically on continued fiscal discipline, especially a careful prioritisation of recurrent and development spending.
The above factors will limit, somewhat, the Government’s ability to support recovery and reconstruction in Darfur from its own resources. Both the macro and regional context are cause for concern. More than a quarter of the Sudanese population resides in the Darfur region. In the five states of Darfur, population has grown by a factor of six between 1973 and 2008 to reach 7.5 million, of which about 1.8 million are displaced and 52 percent are below the age of 16. This represents the highest population growth rate in the country; at this rate, it is estimated Darfur’s population will grow to 12 million by 2025. Poverty levels in Darfur are among the highest in the country, with almost two thirds of the population falling below the poverty line. Human development indicators are among the worst in Africa. Given the confluence of widespread conflict and lack of economic opportunities, urbanization is rapidly proceeding in the region, raising to 40% between 2003 and 2006 alone.
In 2011, humanitarian actors were providing assistance to up to 4 million people, depending on the season, including around 50 per cent of all health and nutrition
services. The delivery of essential services of health, education and water are severely constrained by the limited human and financial resources available to the region. Over the last ten years, Darfur has received less than half of the fiscal transfers than those allocated to states with comparable population and administration. This, coupled with deficiencies in federal administration in policing, security, and judiciary give continued validity to the claims of marginalisation. The region is strikingly dependent on these federal transfers, as state revenues - hampered as they are by insecurity - contribute less than 20% of the fiscal resources available. The situation is expected to be further aggravated since the formation of two additional states at the beginning of 2012. Finally, development spending within Darfur states is comparatively less than half of other states in Sudan.
The DDPD provide a new framework and created new momentum in the transition from humanitarian assistance to recovery and development in the region. As stipulated in Article 32 of the document, needs assessment shall be carried out “to identify and assess the needs for economic recovery, development and poverty eradication in the aftermath of the conflict in Darfur.” The assessment shall consider needs in social areas and infrastructure and determine the resources required for addressing those needs within a six year period. Such needs shall be presented at an international donors’ conference. While it is difficult to foresee a time, when there will be an ideal set of conditions for spontaneous and easily facilitated recovery in Darfur, the needs, priorities and strategy emanating from the assessment provide the most holistic and agreed-upon course of action to deliver realistic, timely, and tangible benefits to the people of Darfur in support of the DDPD.