Mapping and Capacity Assessment of Civil Society Organizations (CSOS) in Darfur

31 Dec 2009

This study is commissioned under the UNDP Project “Enhancing Livelihood Opportunities and Building Social Capital for New Livelihood Strategies in Darfur”. The project seeks to support “foundational activities” for the rebuilding of livelihoods of Darfurian communities. The objectives of the study are to map the profiles and experiences of CSOs involved in livelihood issues in Darfur region, to assess the capacities of these structures and to recommend areas of interventions for capacity development of CSOs in Darfur.  

The study was based on a highly participatory, consultative and cross learning approach using individual and group interviews, consultation workshops and questionnaires; this is besides a rigorous desk review of available secondary data. The initial consultative workshop held with Darfur CSOs based in Khartoum and participation in the training workshops for CSOs in Nyala, organized by OCHA, proved very valuable for informing the study and sharpening of understanding about CSOs in Darfur.


Darfur CSOs have long history. The drought and famine disaster of the mid 1980s that hit Darfur harder than any other place in Sudan constitutes a land mark in the emergence and growth of CSOs. The recovery processes since early 1990 undertaken by UN agencies, especially UNDP, and INGOs, and informed by the newly emerging concept of sustainable development centred on the philosophy of participation led to the emergence of considerable number of CSOs. Darfur conflict since 2003 has resulted in dramatic expansion in the size and scope of Darfur CSOs with 65% of the organizations emerged directly as a result of the conflict. At present there are 241 registered CSOs distributed unevenly between North Darfur(104) South Darfur (80) and West Darfur (57); this inaddition to 232 Darfur related CSOs based in Khartoum.

CSOs in Darfur are highly centralized in the urban areas, especially the four major towns of Fashir, Nyala, Geneina and Zalengi. Accordingly, geographical and social out reach have significantly minimized. Rural-based organizations could generally be categorized as CBOs established mostly by UNDP and INGOs during the 1990s and are found mainly in eastern Darfur (Um Keddada) and South Darfur (Idd El Fursan).  Darfur CSOs are highly divided along ethnic/tribal and geographical lines with many of them hold the name of geographical location or tribal group; nearly all tribal groups in the region have their own civic structures. Political polarization is also conspicuous and labeling of the self and the others is quite common reflecting deep gulf of mistrust. This explains the very small number engaged directly with the IDPs in the camps.

Darfur CSOs are engaged in a wide spectrum of activities with particular focus on humanitarian intervention with very limited focusing on livelihoods and peace building issues. This is explained by the main source of funding to CSOs which is the international community whose presence in Darfur is principally humanitarian; this has created CSOs in Darfur as essentially donor-driven structures.


Political activism, advocacy and resource mobilization, however, remain the focus of Khartoum-based Darfur CSOs. The majority of Darfur CSOs could be described as small size organizations where 67.2% have a permanent staff size of 1-7 persons; out of this 38.8% have staff size of 1-3 persons. Medium size organizations with permanent staff of 8-15 persons  account for 25.4% while those of 15 or more represent 7.5%. The majority of the organizations (51%) with volunteers account for almost 31% of the total staff.

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