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The forgotten crisis: The ongoing response to Darfur’s humanitarian emergency - 2011 marked a historical year for Sudan, with the separation of South Sudan from the Republic of Sudan. Building on its presence of several years, ACTED focused on the region of Central Darfur, responding to a complex emergency which has persisted since 2004. ACTED focused on supporting conflict affected displaced and non-displaced communities, and adopted an early recovery process in Central Darfur, working with rural communities around Zalingei town as well as in IDP camps. Interventions contributed to improvements in WASH, food security and economic development.
Re-establishing access to remote areas and vulnerable communities
There are an estimated 153,000 refugees and 1.9 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) living in camps in Darfur. A large number of areas and villages are still cut off from assistance and access to basic services due to their inaccessibility. ACTED, in partnership with local authorities and government ministries, has worked closely with both host and displaced communities on the improvement of rural roads through Cash for Work activities. In 2011 ACTED repaired three crossroads and rehabilitated 2 kilometres of vital feeder roads. Construction work was implemented through a cash for work scheme which employed 525 people. A road maintenance committee was also established to manage and sustain the road rehabilitation. The intervention has improved access to urban areas and services such as health, education and economic markets. Facilitating access to these services and opportunities proved vital and marked an important step towards initiating an early recovery process for these populations. To facilitate this process, ACTED adopted a community mobilisation approach, encouraging the participation of IDPs and local communities in project activities and facilitating the return of IDPs to their place of origin.
Empowering communities through health promotion and food security support
Because of the continuing crisis in Darfur and despite the assistance provided through the years, the needs of affected communities remain. In line with our intervention in the past years, ACTED has focused on addressing inadequate sanitation and food insecurity as priority areas requiring further intervention. The improvement of the WASH and food security situation is indeed necessary to sustain early recovery transition into development. In 2011, ACTED distributed food vouchers to 118,751 IDPs to address their immediate food needs, while taking a step further than direct food distributions. In terms of water, hygiene and sanitation, ACTED improved waste disposal and drainage in four IDP camps around Zalingei, resulting in latrine rehabilitation, participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation training, soap distribution, the establishment of sanitation committees and hygiene kits distribution. While ACTED provided direct inputs (e.g. soap, hygiene kits) in rural areas and IDP camps, we also ensured that hygiene and sanitation management was transferred to the target communities through training, capacity development and the empowerment of sanitation committees and hygiene promoters. This method will prove vital to improving the sustainability of activities.
Facilitating early recovery
The context in Sudan remains extremely volatile and will continue to present challenges to conflict affected communities and for ACTED’s mission in Sudan. Despite the complexity of this emergency, ACTED will continue to address the needs identified, and participate in a coordinated humanitarian response. Constantly adapting to a rapidly evolving context, ACTED is gradually phasing out of the emergency phase, to focus on an early recovery process. While ACTED recognises the importance of careful transition from emergency response to early recovery and eventually development, our programme has focused on working closely with IDPs, to facilitate voluntary return to their place of origin, and thus encourage a return to relative stability. In 2012, ACTED will maintain its focus on populations that have been displaced for years and require support in rebuilding lost livelihoods and basic necessities. Simultaneously ACTED will continue to target the remaining needs of local communities, who require support to overcome the crisis through economic recovery and access to markets. Activities such as food security, livelihood support, agricultural training and vocational training will enable communities to shift away from a dependence on humanitarian aid towards more self-reliance and resilience.