Micro-finance Assessment Consultancy to Darfur, Sudan
The trading networks and entrepreneurship of Darfuri traders are legendary and Darfur has long been the source of Sudan’s most important exports of agricultural produce, including groundnuts, gum arabic and livestock. Its modern economy remains based on agriculture and trade, but chronic under-investment, marginalization and isolation from the rest of the Sudanese economy has disabled the region from reaching its full production and trading potential.
To a large extent, the conflict that escalated in Darfur in 2003 represents a modern flare-up of grievances caused by natural, political, national and local processes that started deep in history and have continued during colonial times as well as under the regimes that have ruled Sudan since Independence. The key economic impacts observable today are a combination of the acute effects of the latest conflict and the gradual impact of increased competition for scarce political, economic and natural resources. Whether gradual or acute, the loss of rural livelihoods has had a direct impact on the rate of urbanisation, and the natural resources in the fragile climatic region have been seriously compromised by the increase and urban concentration of people.
Microfinance, the provision of financial services to poor and low-income earners, can be and is indeed being implemented successfully even in areas where conflict is resurgent and political stability elusive. This is largely because economies continue to function during a crisis, albeit at a reduced or shrinking rate of growth – and the people affected by conflict – like everywhere else - require sources of income to survive and thrive. Thus, people need reliable, regular access to financial services to return to economic activities as soon as immediate life-saving needs are being addressed.