In line with SOS Sahel UK’s strong belief in Africa-led development and its commitment to strengthening African civil society, it is supporting the nationalisation of its fifth country programme - SOS Sahel Sudan. We believe that this process of devolution, involving capacity building support through a phased transition, will enable African organisations to lead their own development and influence national policy from within.
At the community-level we are supporting marginalised groups, such as women and youths, to form associations, receive training and become formally registered organisations. ‘Red tape’ is a significant challenge to local organisations in Sudan, which is one of the reasons why civil society is weak, yet without registration they cannot easily influence the policies and legal frameworks that govern them.
Within Sudan we are influencing policy in the following key ways:
- By working closely with local government services in every project it implements, SOS Sahel is helping to increase government capacity to support local communities when we are no longer directly involved in an area. This collaboration puts us in an excellent position to encourage changes in policy and the legal framework, and means that successful innovations can be replicated more widely. For example, we often accept local government staff on secondment to our programmes, (many of whom do not understand rural livelihoods) and this enables them to champion our development approaches within relevant government authorities.
- Collaborating with Tufts University (USA) who, as part of their work within the “Sudan Integrated Environment Project” of the United Nations, are promoting detailed understanding and articulation of pastoralist livelihood systems amongst pastoralist leaders, civil society, government and UN decision makers. Tufts University’s new Pastoralist Programme is housed within the Khartoum office of SOS Sahel Sudan, enabling close partnership and sharing of knowledge and expertise.
- Building the capacity of community-based organisations (CBOs) so that they may engage effectively with the process of development and decision-making on the issues affecting the lives of the people they represent. In strengthening these local organisations, SOS Sahel is helping them to fully represent the views of marginalised groups to government authorities. For example, we have organised regional and international exchange visits for Sudanese women and youths to learn about how other groups are strengthening their civil society and taking control over the management of sparse natural resources.