Thursday, February 08, 2007

Darfur Heroics: Tim Large re RESTORE DARFUR

No peace without jobs in Darfur
08 Feb 2007 18:57:00 GMT

Blogged by: Tim Large

One of the more insidious aspects of the conflict in western Sudan is its impact on the ability of Darfur's people to make a living. The rapes, the massacres, the torched villages - these are well documented. Less so the effects of the crisis on the production of tombac chewing tobacco, say, or leather and metalwork.

These are just two ways in which Darfuris have long supplemented the income from their main agricultural activities. Lumped together, they're what aid agencies mean when they talk about "livelihoods".

It's no surprise that a conflict that has killed some 200,000 people and displaced 2.5 million more has had a devastating effect on livelihoods. But a new report by the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University argues that unless Darfur's people find ways to earn money, peace won't be possible.

"While displacement may be seen as the main proximate cause of loss of livelihoods, the real causes are found much deeper in the dynamics of conflict and local power relations," says the study, entitled "Challenges to Peace and Recovery in Darfur".

"After nearly three years of conflict, this systemic destruction of livelihoods has probably contributed as much if not more to the increase in conflict-affected populations and displacement than the effects of direct attacks on communities."

Here are a few ways the conflict is devastating livelihoods in Darfur, according to the report:
As violence stops people moving about freely, market places are empty and trade has come to a standstill. Crops don't get cultivated and animals don't get herded. People don't collect firewood. Remittances are neither sent nor received.

Health centres, schools and water supplies have been destroyed. Banks have been looted. Public services have been decimated as civil servants, teachers and health workers are displaced.

The uprooting of millions has led to concentrations of people in and around towns, pressuring water supplies and exhausting vegetation. The trade in firewood and grass for fodder has become a hot issue around camps for displaced people.

In some areas under Sudanese government control, Arab groups have occupied land, controlling resources and moving livestock into farmers' fields. Reports of Arab groups extorting protection payments from residents are widespread.

Traditional leaders have been killed or displaced. and newly appointed leaders have sometimes misused their authority to profit from aid distributions. Traditional tribal systems of administering land tenure and negotiating livestock migration routes have broken down.

The scale of the international food aid programme is distorting local markets and affecting cereal production. Food aid is now a widely traded commodity.

The link between livelihoods and conflict isn't always obvious, but these examples help connect the dots.

While technical in places, the report is worth a read, if only to underline the point that building a lasting peace in Darfur will involve more than just sending in peacekeepers.

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