From Charity to Development Land Governance toward Durable Solutions for Resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons in Sudan
Habitat International Coalition’s Housing and Land Rights Network (HIC-HLRN) and Khartoum-based Istidama Center for Land and Environmental Governance have joined forces to support Sudanese civil organizations in their transition from charity and relief work to development roles toward durable solutions for the country’s internally displaced persons (IDP). The majority of the IDPs needing secure land tenure and adequate housing have been uprooted from their original rural locations due to conflict under the previous two decades of military government.
This “twinning” project, “Land governance toward durable solutions for resettlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sudan,” is supported by the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN) hosted by UN-Habitat and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Development Cooperation. Those partners have pooled resources to support the Arab Land Initiative (ALI), which seeks to diagnose and resolve problems in land governance on a regional scale. For their part, HIC-HLRN and Istidama launched the twinning project by conducting a rapid assessment of the learning and capacity needs of IDPs and key local organizations working in humanitarian assistance to IDPs in Sudan.
This early step in the project encouraged local organizations to expand their vision and constructive activities beyond charity work—often the only civic space permitted under authoritative and repressive governments—to also fulfill their potential to assume roles in policy formulation and implementation in Sudan’s transition. Informed by both (1) a literature review of the situation of local nongovernmental actors, in general, in the priority regions of Darfur and South Kordofan, (2) an institutional mapping of key actors and stakeholders, and (3) an electronic survey of invitees to participate in training and capacity-building workshops programmed during the project.
A primary source of analysis on the knowledge and experience gaps, and expected concerns of the target civil organizations is the 2020 UN Habitat and Global Land Tool Network (GLTN). Darfur Land Administration Assessment, amongother sources.
An additional aspect of the rapid assessment involved the needs of other parties to the IDP-resettlement and durable-solution process. The 92 survey participants especially noted the needs, rights and interests of host communities and the national priority of peace building as integral to the durable solutions sought.
In operation, the rapid assessment extended beyond the geographical scope of the five Darfur states and South Kordofan to include also the states of Blue Nile, Khartoum and al-Qadarif. This adjustment enabled participation of those working on analogous cases across Sudan, including actors whose field operations span more than one state or region.
This broader view of Sudan’s enduring displacement crisis considers the totality of some 3.6 million Sudanese citizens driven from their homes and lands due to conflict, as well as large-scale land investment and environmental factors. The project’s human-centered and victim-focused approach emphasized the solutions for IDPs as rights holders, regardless of the context, cause or perpetrators of the displacement.
The 92 online-survey participants (73 male and 19 female) produced responses from South Darfur (23) participants), Khartoum State (16), South Kordofan (12), North Darfur (8), East Darfur (7), Central Darfur (5), Blue Nile (3), North Kordofan (2), and 1 participant each from West Kordofan and al-Qadarif. It found that only some 36% have had exposure to training in human rights and international standards on land and housing.
In addition to the needs of IDPs and other stakeholders, including statutory and customary authorities, the participants expressed needs for:
- A policy framework that is conflict sensitive, builds peace and limits further conflict;
- Programs and strategies conducive to policy monitoring and evaluation;
- Knowledge about the full range of legitimate tenure options;
- Greater number and capacity of civil organizations;
- Knowledge about their state’s obligations and commitments relevant to the pursuit of durable solutions for IDPs;
- Local, regional and international partnerships to support normative and technical capacity building, and advocacy of durable solutions;
- Background in the international and regional norms pertaining to housing and land governance, and norms related to refugee and IDP rights;
- Reliable access to the internet for communication, learning and participation in the planned training workshops.
The twinning organizations, HIC-HLRN and Istidama, then jointly designed and delivered a series of four online workshops for local Sudanese organizations under the title “Transitioning from Charity and Relief Work to Development.” This activity within the ALI-supported project “Land governance toward durable solutions for resettlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sudan” introduced 40 participant organizations to normative frameworks and practical tools to play greater development roles in Sudan’s transition.
The twinning organizations designed the course to fulfill expressed needs and challenges that participants prioritized in a foregoing assessment:
- Conflict-sensitive policies that build peace and limits further conflict;
- Programs and strategies for policy monitoring and evaluation;
- More and more-capacitized civil organizations working in the field;
- Knowledge about Sudan’s relevant human rights obligations and global development commitments;
- Local, regional and international partnerships for normative and technical capacity building’
- Advocacy capacity toward durable solutions tp long-standing displacement.
Thus, the online workshops were conducted to expose participants to a range of globally agreed-upon norms and committed actors in pursuit of sustainable settlement and livelihoods for Sudan’s IDPs, especially in Darfur and South Kordofan states. Following introductions, including background on the ALI by Heba Fekry (ALI/GLTN) and a diagnosis of the local situation by Salah Abukashawwa (Istidama), the Arabic-language workshops pursued a course from general to specific, theoretical to practical by first exposing participants to the global concepts and norms at the intersection of the state’s human rights obligations and development commitments.
Within this hybrid human-rights-and-development curriculum, participants incorporated new concepts and terms in active discussions of how to support and advance the intended social-justice outcomes of Sudan’s post-conflict development. In sessions led by Joseph Schechla and Ahmed Mansour Ismail (HIC-HLRN), participants learned about the Human Rights System and, in particular, human right to adequate housing with its legally defined elements and corresponding state obligations. They explored the UNGA-adopted remedy-and-reparations framework for victims of forced eviction and other “gross violations” of human rights as integral to the normative framework for both durable solutions and peace building..
Within this rubric, they discovered a range of solutions that includes guaranteeing security of a wide range of legitimate tenure types, including combinations of formal and customary tenure. This approach helped to appreciate the multiple values and functions of land, including the New Urban Agenda’s commitment of states to ensure “the social function of land,” beyond land as property. This understanding of the range of solutions within the normative content of a “human right to land” expands interpretation of references in the Doha Peace Agreement to “registered land” as only registered freehold in Darfur
Participants also debated multiple definitions of, and approaches to justice, emphasizing restorative justice and the anticipated long process of transitional justice in Sudan. They expressed their concern that solutions be integrated to meet the development challenges of all Sudanese pursuing diverse means of livelihood, not least host communities in cases of IDP return and resettlement.
The intensive instructional part of the four-day workshop series culminated on day 3 with Mr. Abukashawwa providing an inventory of local stakeholders, legal and systems that apply in the pursuit of durable solutions for IDPs in Sudan. The training team then facilitated a strategic-planning exercise on day 4 that precedes the next phase of the project in which each participant has been asked to prepare a brief concept note, or vision paper to incorporate the learning to express their proposals of local civic organizations’ future contributions to Sudan’s development transition with durable solutions for IDPs. These will be the subject of a future consultation with authorities and decision makers in Khartoum in the last week of November 2022