Combining humanitarian, development, and peace efforts is essential for stable communities in Sudan. But...what does that look like?

May 24, 2022

Osama Tageldin, Peace & Stabilization Portfolio, UNDP Sudan


“HDP triple nexus is the term used to capture the interlinkages between humanitarian, development and peace sectors. It specifically refers to attempts in these fields to work together to more effectively meet peoples’ needs, mitigate risks and vulnerabilities, and move toward sustainable peace.” – Research Briefing Paper, UN Secretary General High Level Panel on Internal Displacement.

Sudan’s transition requires peace and stability at the local level. However, a complex web of interlacing challenges – like endemic poverty, food insecurity, recurring tribal conflicts, and natural resource competition – threatens to derail progress and ongoing efforts made as part of the Juba Peace Agreement.

In Sudan, as in many crisis-impacted nations, these challenges (and responses to them) have traditionally fallen under separate remits of humanitarian, development, and peace actors. Yet none of these challenges exist in isolation – nor should the interventions that address them.

As an example, White Nile State is home to around 276,000 South Sudanese refugees living alongside often vulnerable local communities. Displaced populations add pressure to already fragile economic situations, limited infrastructure, livelihoods and basic services, and access to resources.

Emergency humanitarian assistance has been vital in meeting immediate needs, but this is a temporary fix and only goes so far.

The solution? Complementary responses by humanitarian, development and peacebuilding authorities that meet the diverse needs of different communities while ensuring that the benefits of interventions last long-term, are durable, and support peace.

This was the case in White Nile State, where UNDP, UNHCR, WFP and FAO led a multifaceted HDP triple nexus intervention to support rural development around Jouri Refugee Camp, home to almost 12,000 refugees.

Nabait Daing, a South Sudanese refugee and farmer in White Nile State, was one of 24,000 people to secure employment through a rural development initiative. Previously reliant on food aid, Nabait no longer relies entirely on humanitarian assistance, while working alongside local communities has improved relations between refugees and host communities. UNDP Sudan/Staff.

Humanitarian actors provided emergency services like water points, clinics, food assistance, and seeds, which have been maintained by the income generated from livelihood creation and community assets sustained by UNDP.

As a result, humanitarians ensured short-term needs were met while longer-term solutions come online, and these services can continue operating long after the humanitarian actors depart.

Examining the humanitarian-long-term development integration specifically, UNDP – with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the Government of Netherlands – launched civil works to create 11,366 acres of irrigated farmland. This provided refugees who received seeds for emergency farming and gardening with access to land and water for cultivation.

The results have been significant: increased irrigation from the While Nile improved productivity, dramatically easing pressure on natural resources, improving food security, and creating livelihood opportunities for local communities and refugees.

The initiative created 24,000 jobs and improved cotton production by 433 percent, with total income from the cotton harvest growing from 700,000 SDGs to 216,000,000 SDGs.

              Read more: Cotton, stability and 24,000 opportunities in Sudan’s White Nile

Increased incomes, new jobs and opportunities to work together promoted peace and stability between refugees and host communities. This process is proactively  supported by peacebuilding training, support and dispute resolution via a UNDP-created Community Management Committee – groups established to lead local development – spearheaded by peacebuilding sub-committees.

Read more: Communities driving development: Why ownership is essential for stable communities in Sudan

This is the Nexus put into practise – combined approaches, building on investments to improve lives, livelihoods, community stability, and ultimately achieve peace. We will succeed if we ensure our activities complement each other to create durable solutions.

In a smaller but equally important example, we look to the challenges facing Ethiopian refugees in Um Rakuba and Tunaydbah camps and surrounding local communities.

With an influx of people existing, limited services are stretched. This means less capacity for local communties and potential tensions.

Addressing basic service gaps three mobile clinics, funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund), deployed to provide urgent health services – eventually treating more than 5,000 refugee and host community patients, including providing much-needed x-ray facilities.

Read more: Health centre rehabilitated, mobile clinics deployed, to support East Sudan’s refugee crisis

In Sudan’s East, mobile clinics have provided lifesaving emergency assistance to refugees and local communities, while civil works expands and rehabilitates existing clinics and health facilities. UNDP Sudan/Staff.

Simultaneously, UNDP and partners carried out (and continue to carry out) civil works since 2021 –upgrading existing infrastructure by rehabilitating the Um Rakuba camp health centre, and health facilities in nearby Tawarit Village, Um Rakuba Village, and Doka.

The result of this approach is three-fold:

1.      Meeting urgent needs of arriving refugees and increasing pressure on local host communities

2.      Investments now support important community assets and longer-term, durable solutions for the future

3.      Supporting stability and peace among communities in the area

Again, if we do not ensure our activities complement each other in this way, we have failed.

So how do we ensure this happens?

By rooting our stabilization approach in the Humanitarian, Development and Peace (HDP) Nexus. Not only do the three strands operate in tandem but – crucially – they positively reinforce each other, in order to meet immediate needs while addressing the long-term drivers of conflict and poverty.

This involves working with local communities, often via Community Management Committees (CMCs) in their initial stages, to prepare them for coordinating and implementing the nexus across all activities.         

Before CMCs, different committees were established in each community to target individual needs. As local governance structure; CMC aims to absorb them into one umbrella organisation, with respective sub-committees in areas like peacebuilding, youth or women’s issues, agriculture, education, water access, etc. 

Merging siloed interventions under one coordinating body makes communities better equipped to manage shocks and conflict while supporting the peace on which sustainable development depends.

Peace and stability are essential for development in Sudan. That makes them UNDP’s top priority. Our approach provides support on the national, state and local levels, combining efforts to address conflicts and their root causes. We aim to improve access to basic services, employment opportunities and fulfilment of essential needs for people all over the country. Additionally, we implement peacebuilding initiatives and provide conflict mediation to address problems when they occur. In 2021, UNDP supported over 1.5 million of Sudan’s most conflict-vulnerable people through stabilization projects.