"From the bottom up":local development brings regional impact to East Sudan


Students smile in front of their newly restored and refurbished school room in Sinkat locality (photo credit: Ariel Rubin UNDP)

 

In the remote village of Diemoyo of Red Sea State in Eastern Sudan, a region suffering from some of the lowest development indicators in the country, the once high rate of child and maternal mortality has recently been reduced.

The challenges for reducing maternity and child mortality are manifold in Sudan, including limited access to health care especially in remote areas, limited capacity and shortage of qualified healthcare workers, low utilization of available health services, and limited availability of specialized care and equipment. Strengthening the provision of health services has been identified by the population of Diemoyo as one of the key development priorities.

"Previously it was a multi-tasking problem if someone gets sick. We have to travel by buses more than 200 km to reach the nearest hospital. A common fever could turn into a serious problem, especially if the men are busy and cannot afford a day off from work", remarked Hala Mahmoud of Diemoyo. "Now, we have so many benefits with the presence of this health clinic at walking distance and we can get medical treatment, vaccination for dangerous diseases and even the pregnant women are getting good care and proper information for their pregnancy!"

The medical center has been constructed with support received from the Local Development Fund (LDF) of Red Sea State. The LDF is an innovative initiative launched in 2010 by UNDP and the government of Red Sea State with the support of the Danish Government. It is a fund that provides grants to localities to support small-scale interventions that aim at improving the delivery of basic services and livelihoods for the poor and marginalized at the local level.

The LDF is part of UNDP's strategy to strengthen the overall efficiency, transparency and accountability of local government service-delivery while at the same time promoting participatory assessments and prioritization of development needs at the community level that will be integrated in the broader strategic planning processes at state and locality level. It complements state government transfers to localities which mainly focus on fixed and recurring costs, leaving only small fund available for development interventions.

Projects are implemented in all ten localities of Red Sea State benefitting over 630,000 citizens across the state. Projects to date have included the construction of water reservoirs, health centers, school restoration, income-generating projects for women, well digging and the establishment fish drying facilities. The LDF is more than just a tool to provide finance basic service delivery projects on the ground. It transforms the strategic planning and budgeting system at state and locality level, supporting development interventions, which have been identified and prioritized by the communities themselves. The LDF system ensured a voice for women and other disadvantaged groups in local public decision-making and local government accountability towards their citizens.

"In the past, the plans were developed top-down, now the plans are developed from the bottom up." says Hassan Ahmed Mohamed, who is the Head of Planning & Implementation Unit of Sinkat Locality, where three LDF projects are being implemented, including the construction of primary school classrooms and water wells, as well as the installation of a solar water pumping system in the remote village of Earba, which does not have an alternative energy system.

The importance of the fund has been recognized by the state government as well. Port Sudan's Minister of Finance, Salah Kona, noted that the Governor and State Ministry of Finance are committed to continue support to these projects to ensure their sustainability and look forward to a continued partnership with UNDP to expand the LDF mechanism and strengthen local basic service delivery across the state.

The project received support from the Government of Denmark and is part of UNDP's Strategic Partnership Framework for Governance and Rule of Law, co-financing partnership between UNDP, the Government of Sudan, the Government of the Netherlands, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Government of Sweden and the Government of Norway.