UNDP believes that waiting for conflict to be over risks losing vital opportunities for developing Sudan. So despite ongoing conflict in parts of the country such as Darfur, UNDP is already engaged in helping people plant the seeds for building a better future.
Overall, the aim of this work is to reduce the incentives to return to conflict by helping people feel secure enough to invest in their future. In Sudan 24,000 combatants, almost a fifth of whom were women, have been supported by this work. Follow up surveys found that over 70 per cent of ex-combatants have achieved sustainable livelihoods and been reintegrated into civilian life. Some 35,000 small farmers also benefitted from UNDP support through microfinance schemes and improved techniques. In one locality, the total value of honey production increased tenfold as a result. In South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, UNDP helped support and broker 13 local peace agreements, 9 of which were still holding as of 2012.
UNDP is also building bridges between the humanitarian response to conflict, and development work. People who flee war within their country often end up in camps for years, disempowered by their dependence on food handouts. UNDP is working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to change this. The UNDP & UNHCR Transitional Solutions Initiative Joint Programme in East Sudan is providing people in camps with the opportunity to become increasingly self-sustaining through small business loans and access to farmland.
Another innovative project has been the training of young Darfuri graduates. In a region where many graduates are unemployed, UNDP now has mobilized over 200 young people from across Darfur, living in remote communities teaching people about new farming techniques, and is helping them access micro-finance loans and improve their access to the market.