A new briefing paper by Helen Young, Karen Jacobsen and Abdalmonim Osman Livelihoods, Migration and Conflict is the most recent briefing paper in the Tufts University series on livelihoods in Darfur. It is as good as its predecessors and is essential reading for those wishing to understand the dimensions of the crisis of livelihoods and survival. Based on studies conducted in five IDP camps in Zalingei (West Darfur) and residents and IDPs in Kebkabiya (North Darfur) from 2006-8, it explores the roles of migration and remittances in livelihoods. The report finds that in Darfur, as in other conflict zones, livelihood systems are in transition. IDP strategies are evolving in response both to blocked previous livelihood strategies, and to new opportunities presented by urbanization and the distorting effects of the presence of the international community. It describes how remittance flows have increased slightly since pre-2003, but are available only to a small proportion of the population. Remittance mechanisms have shifted to adapt to insecurity. The findings have implications for three commonly asked questions: • If and when will IDPs return back to their rural homes? • How can a wider range of livelihood strategies be supported? • Should remittances be supported […]
The border region between Chad and Sudan is formed by an inhospitable climate and breathtakingly beautiful nature. It is an area marked by a colonial boundary where the French colonial outreach in Africa once met its rival British counterpart, an extremely sparsely populated part of the African continent that has nevertheless become one of the most contested places on earth. Hundreds of thousands of people are on the move between both countries, escaping oppression and murder, only to meet persecution and devastation. Conditions of flight and displacement also result in the construction of new settlements: refugee camps. Camps like Kalma, near Nyala in Sudan with its well over 100,000 inhabitants, or Farchana and Breidjing, both with a population of approximately 20.000, are larger than most Chadian or Darfurian cities. How are these camps planned and what is the role of architecture/urban planning in the context of this conflict? We will see that the camps in this region expose many of the contradictions and dilemmas of architecture in the field of ‘humanitarian action’. Right: plan of Amboko Camp, southern Chad. Even though approximately 67 million people worldwide are currently considered refugees or internally displaced people(1) , and even though there are […]
Most of Darfur’s internally-displaced camps are urban settlements in all but name. In geographical terms the most striking impact of the last seven years has been to change Darfur from being overwhelmingly scattered rural villages and hamlets to huge extended cities. In the wake of the abrupt expulsion of the international NGOs which provided a key component of the supply chain for assistance to the IDPs, it is worth reflecting on how this interruption—and the wider crisis of displacement—will appear in the longue durée of Sudanese demographic history. Now is the time to think long-term. The conventional lens for framing the IDP question defines them as victims of atrocities kept in suspended status, living on handout and in fear, until such time as peace allows them to return to their former lives in their villages and valleys. There is much truth to this. The sense of physical and emotional loss, of trauma and violated dignity, of the IDPs cannot be overlooked. But there is another reality too. The crisis in Darfur is the latest in a long series of such episodes in Sudanese history, and can also be seen as an instance of the accelerated traumatic urbanization of society. Whatever […]
The New Sudan (al Sudan al Jadiid) of the late Dr John Garang was a vision of a Sudan of equality and non-discrimination in which the provinces—the margins of the South, west, east and north—all enjoyed a fair share of power and resources. Dr John’s vision was shaped by his prescient analysis of the fatal flaws of the 1972 peace agreement. And so his idea of the New Sudan was, in part, a vision of the ‘Addis Ababa Agreement plus’—the ‘plus’ meaning first that the South had a proper stake of central power, and second that all other regions of Sudan enjoyed those rights and wielded those powers. In practice, during the long years of war in the South, the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, ‘New Sudan’ meant those areas controlled by the SPLA. The dream of a ‘New Sudan’ in line with Garang’s manifesto of national transformation is powerfully attractive to many Sudanese, including many Darfurians. The advocates of Dr John’s vision argue, correctly, that the ‘New Sudan’ remains untested. But it is possible that the project was buried along with its visionary three years ago. And we can never turn back the clock to the Sudan of 35 […]
With 13,000 humanitarian workers and a hundred relief agencies, Darfur hosts the largest humanitarian operation in the world. The aid apparatus started to be deployed in Western Sudan in mid-2004 in a context of acutely high mortality among civilian displaced living in camps and those remaining in rural areas. Since that time – thanks to the relief effort and a decrease in violence – the overall health situation has improved, though it remains extremely fragile. While people are no longer dying en masse in Darfur, there are still pockets of excess mortality, and humanitarian organizations are facing new problems, due as much to the trans- formation in the political/military environment as to dysfunctionality in the aid system. The dynamics of the violence in Darfur have become much more complex over the past two years . Today, the conflict between the central government and the rebel movements (which took to arms four years ago to protest against the political and economic marginalization of their region) is tightly intertwined with at least three other wars. The first, between the governments of Chad and Sudan, is being fought by air and rebel proxies . The second pits the rebel factions that have emerged […]
First of all, I would like the thank Zoe Marriage, Michael Barnett and Angela Raven-Roberts for taking the trouble to read the book, and for their insightful, critical and sympathetic comments. A large part of what I am trying to get across in the Complex Emergencies book, as Michael Barnett correctly perceives, is that the aims in a war are complex. At one level, this may be a statement of the blindingly obvious. The main reason it is worth stating and re-stating is that so many influential discourses about war deny this complexity and, in so doing, help to create space for violence. Whether in the ‘war on terror’ or in a conflict like Sierra Leone’s, defining war as a collective effort to defeat some named evil (al Qaeda, the Revolutionary United Front) may create space for all manner of abuses (by governments signing up to the ‘war on terror’, by Sierra Leonean government soldiers and civil defence fighters) that reflect separate agendas that are frequently economic and frequently anti-democratic. I want to stress the importance of looking at hidden conflicts and of examining the violence that is legitimized within a particular working definition of what a conflict is ‘about’. […]
Jim Lewis has a fascinating article in today’s New York Times–in the Architecture section. It’s called “The Exigent City” and poses the question, why are refugee camps and IDP camps designed how they are? According to the most recent estimates, refugees stay in camps for an average of seventeen years–so that camps are far from the transient places of temporary abode that we might imagine, but are in fact a different form of urban design, one designed for liminal people whom states and international organizations don’t want to admit are, in fact, long-term residents. As well as providing an important perspective on this much neglected phenomenon, Lewis provides us with some important terminology for grappling with the problems it raises–“the permanent impermanent” and “emergency urbanism” are but two examples. He concludes by quoting Cameron Sinclair, one of the founders of Architecture for Humanity, that housing the rapid influx of urban squatters and settlers is “the question of the century for those working in the built environment.” And building homes for the three million or so Darfurians who have undergone “emergency urbanization” may become the planning question of the decade for Darfur.
Asif Faiz claims that Khartoum resembles capital cities in “virtually every” developing country. In the sense that, for the first, time the majority of people in the world now live in cities he is correct. However, this claim is at a level of generality comparable with the equally correct statement that Khartoum is similar to other cities in that its inhabitants have to eat. If one looks at specifics of history and politics, however, it is very different. Urbanisation in Sudan cannot be disconnected from the exceptional way in which Khartoum governs its rural hinterland. There is nothing natural about his process. Moreover, it means that Sudan — and present day Darfur is a good example — has never been a “rural Shangri-la”. While there is some substance in Asif’s claim that the urban poor enjoy more “opportunity and enterprise” than the rural poor, they also fated with a common burden; both are expected to be self-reliant interms of meeting their own basic economic and social needs. If one adopts a high level of generality and mix this with the naïve optimism of development policy, it is possible to see a positive outcome in the most difficult of circumstances. A […]
Mark Duffield’s comments are thoughtful but I would ask him a simple question. Is Khartoum that different from imperial cities like Delhi, Mexico City, Lima., Buenos Aires, in relation to their surrounding areas. So why is Khartoum singled out as an anomaly when virtually every Sub-Saharan African country exhibits the same trends in terms of the relationship of the capital city with the rest of the country. Are Addis, Nairobi, and Kampala that different? Despite all its faults, Khartoum does not have the ostentation of Nairobi and Addis– not so far. My second question is whether the urban poor in terms of opportunity and enterprise are not better off than rural poor in Sudan and most developing countries? Or shall we always be on the lookout for the noble savage and the rural Shangri La’s that exist in people’s imagination. Urbanization is the path to equal representation and eventually a vibrant democracy.
Posted on behalf of AbdouMaliq Simone The discussion that has taken place on this weblog over the last weeks concerning urbanization in the Sudan has raised many critical points to which I do not take issue. These discussions have provided incisive attention to how the complex and multiple historical trajectories—of movement, political mobilization, and economic exigency—that have given Sudanese urbanization a particular character now interact with the contestations around how the country is articulated to various facets of the global economy. So in certain respects the struggle for Sudan is the struggle for Khartoum. As a ramification of these struggles is the rapid urbanization of other areas of the country—an urbanization that proceeds without discernible economic substance, and thus intensifies skewed markets in land and opportunity. The point of the following comments is more to offer some further texture to the analysis so far, and to complement the concerns expressed over the lack of urban integration with some questions as to what cities are actually capable of in terms of integrating diverse populations, interests and aspirations. Even when the absence of integration poses many dangers for the city, a focus on how diverse peoples and agendas intersect may provide an […]