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Coronavirus – Sudan: Community leaders fight COVID-19 alongside United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sudan

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KHARTOUM, Sudan, June 6, 2020/ — ‘Any child is everyone’s child,’ one Sudanese proverb goes. ‘None of us is safe until all of us are safe’ might be a timely interpretation.

In Sudan, UNDP is working with trusted local partners to respond and rebuild better as the ongoing pandemic threatens to reverse decades of progress in tackling poverty and inequality.

Coordinating with health authorities and others, Sudanese community groups and networks —operating in eight languages — are partnering with UNDP to ensure at-risk groups including internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees, and migrants, with untapped skills and huge unmet basic needs, aren’t left even further behind.

‘We have a great responsibility to our community, especially regarding health,’ Fadlalla Mohamed Gabriel, leader of a community network in Sudan’s southern White Nile state.

Even before COVID-19, the Sudanese economy was stressed and spiraling downward, suffering from structural trade and fiscal deficits, widespread poverty, high inflation, limited infrastructure and basic services, and regressive taxes. Nearly 2 million people remain internally displaced, living in dire conditions, while the country also hosts more than 1.1 million refugees and migrants. UNDP’s socio-economic impact assessment projects worsening hardship as a result of the pandemic, with incomes lost, exports reduced, and oil prices sharply lowered. 

Responsible local leadership can bridge the gap in addressing needs, mitigating conflict, and managing projects and resources. Donor support has allowed UNDP to establish more than 150 community management committees, peace committees, natural resource groups, police networks, volunteer groups, and other organizations across 12 states.

In Khartoum’s impoverished Mayo district, 60,000 people have been safely provided information or supplies door-to-door, at gathering places, and at facilities such as police stations. In Darfur and elsewhere, local networks have canvassed hubs—government offices, prisons, water collection points, courts, markets, IDP camps, and justice and human rights centers.

‘This assistance is possible due to the flexibility of our international partners,’ UNDP Sudan’s Resident Representative Selva Ramachandran said. ‘This has allowed communities to quickly tackle COVID-19 and meet pressing health needs.’

Support from Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, and Italy has allowed community networks to connect with urban populations, rural settlements, temporary refugee and IDP camps, and conflict-impacted areas.

Partnership between UNAMID — the United Nations–African Union Mission in Darfur— and UN agencies has also provided US$1.9 million of dedicated funds for health and hygiene supplies, medical equipment, and health system improvements—ensuring that much-needed information reaches at-risk communities.

Key facts

– Across Sudan, UNDP has established more than 150 community management committees, peace committees, farming and water management groups, legal networks, and youth and police volunteer groups.

– These groups are working together in multiple states in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, they have reached tens of thousands of people, distributing thousands of flyers, posters, and health and hygiene supplies.

– Safety remains top priority for community outreach. Volunteers have provided extensive briefings, along with masks, gloves, and sanitizing products.

– Support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the Governments of Norway and the Netherlands, Swiss Development Cooperation, and Italian Development Cooperation has been reallocated to address COVID-19. UNAMID’s State Liaison Function has also contributed to COVID-19 response in Darfur.

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