Working in a changing Sudan

2019 was a momentous year for Sudan. Change is happening. The east African country is currently undergoing unprecedented political reforms in a sweeping revolution that overthrew the 30-year long dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir. ZOA Sudan is strengthening communities and making key stakeholders aware of the governance processes to come.

 Sudan has withstood unprecedented change in 2019. The Sudanese Revolution prevailed, led by peaceful protestors amid a backdrop of violence on June 3rd when armed militias violently repressed the peaceful sit-in. Sudan has many challenges ahead, not least of which include dislodging the deep state from the political and economic fabric of the country. But cautious hope prevails. Abdalla Hamdok, a respected economist, was appointed Prime Minister and subsequently named a nearly entirely civilian cabinet. A joint civilian-military sovereign council is appointed to oversee the transition and currently and a three-year transition to full civilian rule is underway. The focus remains on keeping the transition on track and nationally, to resist any sabotaging attempts by elements of the prior regime, who are still active at different levels.

Tabaza village 5

Fighting for rights

Amid the uncertainty, the change in Khartoum is palpable. Regular demonstrations demanding justice and honouring those who have passed in light of the Revolution continue. Women are mobilising, fighting for equal rights and speaking against social pressure that bears influence on their life choices. A sub-culture of empowered, politically driven youth have taken advantage of the momentous political shift to voice their demands.

Shift in governance structures

In rural Sudan where ZOA works, this uncertainty means massive shifts in governance structures at state and locality levels. Many states are currently operating with minimal formal governments. The newly instated governments will be confronted with civilian populations that, amid the national changes, are becoming aware of their civic rights and the democratic process they will soon be engaged in. When the transition is complete, the Sudanese population will engage in a democratic voting process. Many stakeholders outside of the government – UN agencies, INGOs, NNGOs and the private sector -will be key players in supporting this transition.

Tabaza villlage

Strengthening Through Resilience

Amid this backdrop, with funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, ZOA Sudan is implementing the Strengthening Through Resilience project in South Darfur. The project so far established and trained a variety of civil society committees to address peace and reconciliation issues at the local level. The project also started training and sensitizing local authorities and civil society organizations to engage with each other to discuss and develop inclusive strategies and plans to address priority needs of communities. ZOA Sudan will continue to strengthen different committees and local authorities, as the political changes in the country have affected power relations at all levels. New dynamics have emerged, forcing changes in structures of both entities as well as demands by the empowered youth and women to have increased representation and bigger roles in the different governance bodies and core planning and decision – making processes. Issues and priorities are also changing and subjects such as land rights, return and compensation of returnees, representation and participation in the new governance structures and voicing up issues and needs of underdeveloped and marginalized areas are becoming more visible and heard. Communities need to be further empowered to voice their needs in the new Sudan. The country’s momentous political changes have a palpable effect in the communities we work. In this time of change, ZOA Sudan is strengthening communities and making key stakeholders aware of the governance processes to come.

ZOA Sudan will continue to strengthen different committees and local authorities


In 2020, the project will facilitate intensive refresher sessions and familiarize committees, CBOs and CSOs, networks and umbrella with civic rights, new governance structures, and improve their presentation, advocacy and augment their skills of engagement with main actors and decisionmakers. It is also planned to provide space and facilitate engagement of committees with relevant groups as well as with authorities and legislators to practice democracy and participation and contribute to shaping of decisions that affect their lives. At the same time, attempts to explore and support adoption of community communication systems for reporting, information sharing, complaints and enforcing accountability will be undertaken. The project will help the committees and networks to conduct SWOT analysis and prepare action plans to address gaps and priorities including mainstreaming of gender and advancing participation of females. ZOA will also support them to assess their position in the participation ladder and tailor appropriate training inputs to improve and make their engagement and participation meaningful and effective.