Currently viewing the tag: "Sudan"

Profile in Practice

On May 23, 2014 By

My career has been spent with one foot in policy and activism, and the other in research and teaching. I have worked for human rights organizations, the African Union and the United Nations, and academic institutions—focusing on the problems of peace, human rights and humanitarian action, particularly in northeast Africa.

I first went to Sudan in 1984 because the University of Khartoum was then the world’s intellectual center for refugee studies, the immediate precursor of humanitarian studies. The flow of intellectual capital was from Sudan to Europe and America.

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This posting examines the paradoxes of the 2000s: the decade of Sudan’s prosperity and hopes for peace. The key peace agreements: the 2002 “Burgenstock” ceasefire for the Nuba Mountains and the Machakos Protocol, the 2003-04 Protocols signed in Naivasha and Nairobi, the 2005 CPA itself, the 2006 Juba Declaration, the Abuja Darfur Peace Agreement and the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement, were all signed during the fastest period of budgetary expansion.

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This is not just a difference in wealth. It points to very different ways in which governance is organized in different parts of Sudan. The difference between the ordered landscape of the Gezira and the organic landscape of the savanna is more-or-less coterminous with the colonial distinction between the riverain regions that received investment, and the “closed districts” that served as labor reserves and areas in which the “native administration” system of tribal chiefs was imposed.

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Khartoum’s urban infrastructure shows the impact of the boom-and-bust cycle. Below is a street photograph from central Khartoum. Note the unfinished buildings: they have been that way since the late 1970s. What happened was that the Nimeiri government borrowed recklessly, causing a boom, that came to an abrupt halt in 1978. Many half-finished buildings from [...]

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In this series of ten posts, I will use graphs, figures and pictures to get a sense of the Sudanese predicament today. The focus is on peace, and especially the economic and financial logic of peace.

The following figure shows government budgets (current expenditure) between 1970 and 2011, and peace agreements (green) and changes in [...]

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The geographical inequality of income and investment in Sudan is striking. The figure below was drawn by me in the 1980s, based on an analysis of how the Sudanese economy had been restructured in the late 1970s and ‘80s, following the migration of most Sudanese professionals to the Gulf countries, and their remittances sent home, [...]

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