Sudan Environment and Livelihoods

Since 2010, the Feinstein International Center (FIC) at Tufts University have embarked on a major three-year research project on Pastoralism, Trade and Markets, which is part of the UNEP Sudan Integrated Environment Project funded by UKaid, from the Department for International Development. This project builds and expands upon our earlier research on livelihoods and conflict. This included; studies of the impact of conflict on people’s livelihoods in the Darfur region, the longer-term changes to IDP’s livelihoods, their migration patterns and remittance flows, the impact of conflict on markets and trade, and the marginalization and vulnerability of pastoralist livelihoods in Darfur. The earlier undertakings, which spanned the years 2004-2009, were widely disseminated and discussed by governments and aid agencies in an ongoing series of debriefings and dialogue in Sudan, North America and Europe.

Our current research project covers two separate but related fields; pastoralism and pastoralist livelihoods, and markets and trade in the Darfur region. The pastoralist project aims to promote understanding of pastoralists livelihoods systems among local, national and international stakeholders and to strengthen the capacity of pastoralist leaders, organizations and other advocates to articulate the rational for pastoralism. The goal of the market monitoring initiative is to deepen analysis and understanding of the shifting patterns of trade and markets in Darfur on an ongoing basis for key agricultural and livestock commodities; identify how livelihoods and the economy can be supported through trade; and identify peace-building opportunities through trade.

Pastoralism and Pastoralist Livelihoods

Sudan is home to one of the largest pastoralist populations in Africa, and pastoralist livestock production is practiced in every region and state, and contributes to securing local livelihoods and the wider economy. Pastoralist production is conducive with sustainable management of dryland environments. In Sudan pressures on pastoralism have been steadily increasing over the past thirty years, and in some regions escalated dramatically in recent years. The challenges are diverse, and sometimes mutually reinforcing, thus creating a vicious cycle that is difficult to break. Examples of current trends include; expanding land under cultivation; multiple levels of protracted conflict; and weak or ineffective governance including prejudice towards pastoralists and weak representation in decision-making. Such pressures affect the mobility of herds and access to water and pasture, livestock health and productivity, marketing, social integration and ultimately peace and security.

The project has built strong cooperation and collaboration, as well as capacity, with a wide range of national and international organizations, including UNEP Sudan, SOS Sahel Sudan, the Darfur Development and Reconstruction Agency, the International Institute of the Environment and Development and the Nomads Development Council. Our work in Sudan also depends on the support and participation of a wide network of national and local organizations, professionals and academics.

The pastoralist project has generated multiple outputs, including a stakeholder survey and development of pastoralist stakeholder network with 500+ members, which has provided a strong foundation for wider participation in the project. Representatives of this stakeholder network participated in a national workshop and jointly agreed to take forward a strategy for participatory policy review in Sudan with Tufts/FIC and partners. Specifically, a national reference group of stakeholders agreed to work with Tufts, IIED and SOS Sahel to adapt an existing successful training course on Pastoralism and Policy in East Africa for use in Sudan. A number of test trainings have now been completed and three national facilitators have presented elements of the training in a range of forums.

Our current research on pastoralism is concerned with the economic value of pastoralism in Sudan. Based on fieldwork in West Darfur and North Kordofan, it shows how different livestock management strategies contribute to securing livelihoods and the wider economy at State, national and transnational levels, and how they relate to the broad agenda of minimising the risk of rangeland degradation and conflict in a context of a new international border and increasing climate variability and change.

Markets and Trade in Darfur

Trade is one of the main ways in which different livelihood groups continue to interact in Darfur. In many areas, markets (especially rural ones) and trade have simply collapsed. In other areas, markets have adapted and are still functioning. A more nuanced understanding of market trends is critical for understanding the dynamics of war economies and the role of markets and trade in promoting recovery or in fueling conflict.

The markets and trade component seeks to strengthen ongoing market monitoring in each of Darfur’s three states in order to develop a more nuanced understanding of market trends and how these relate to conflict dynamics. The goal is to improve detailed monitoring and analysis of trade and markets for key commodities in Darfur (cereals, livestock, cash crops, and timber) and to identify how livelihoods, economic recovery, and peace-building can be supported through trade.

This project has a strong capacity-building element. Tufts/FIC is supporting the Darfur Development and Reconstruction Agency (DRA), a local Darfur NGO, to establish the regular market monitoring program, in North Darfur State in 2010/2011, in West Darfur in 2012, and later in South Darfur. DRA has established a network of 10 local community-based organizations (CBO) throughout North Darfur State and put in place a market monitoring system that relies on CBO members collecting and jointly analyzing market data and trends. Tufts/FIC has supported DRA in designing and establishing a market monitoring methodology that has been endorsed by local partners and government.

This regular monitoring is supported by an action research study on livestock trade in Darfur. The study objectives are: first, tracking how livestock trade has been impacted by the conflict in Darfur since 2003, how it has adapted and the extent to which it has recovered, in order to better understand the impact on the livelihoods of different groups in Darfur, and the implications for Darfur’s future; and second, identifying ways in which the livestock trade can be supported during the conflict to better sustain the livelihoods of different groups in Darfur and to support the eventual recovery of Darfur’s economy.

Livestock, Livelihoods, and Disaster Response:  PART ONE A Review of Livestock-Based Livelihood Projects in Sudan
By Merry Fitzpatrick, Helen Young | September 2013

Tufts University and the Feinstein International Center are pleased to announce the publication of a two part review of emergency livestock interventions in Sudan. Livestock production is a crucial livelihood...

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Livestock, Livelihoods, and Disaster Response: PART TWO Three Case Studies of Livestock Emergency Programmes in Sudan, and Lessons Learned

Tufts University and the Feinstein International Center are pleased to announce the publication of a two part review of emergency livestock interventions in Sudan. Livestock production is a crucial livelihood...

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On the Hoof: Livestock Trade in Darfur

Livestock is one of Darfur’s main economic assets and makes a major contribution to Sudan’s national livestock and meat exports. This report explores what has happened to the livestock trade...

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