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Seeds to Strength: NP in Sudan

Date: January 31, 2024
When conflict turns violent, community members have no choice: they respond in order to keep themselves, their families, and their neighbors safe.
This holds true in Sudan, where NP has been in partnership with communities since 2020, and where community protection initiatives have evolved into a resilient response to the 2023 conflict.

Seeds of community protection:
NP Sudan beginnings

Headshots two women, one man

2020

60+ local leaders completed the UCP course, and UCP was included in the resolution to establish the new UN Mission.

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2021

We launched our programme, training and coaching peacebuilding leaders, including women, youth, & marginalized communities.

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2022

NP met with 1,000+ women, youth, and men in IDP camps & nomadic groups in North and West Darfur.​ ​ 

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Growing from successes in 2022

300+ civilians, including women and men in IDP and nomad communities of North Darfur attended NP's community protection orientations & awareness-raising trainings.

"My Arab nomad community has never been approached by any international organisation before NP invited me to participate in a training on unarmed civilian protection." - Farid

We enhanced security in IDP camps and Kereineik by being in high-risk areas: We utilized our relationships to access areas that other humanitarian groups avoided due to security concerns. In turn, our presence acted as a deterrent to violence. Eventually, other organizations felt more confident returning to those areas, even without armed escorts.

Celebrating women leaders in 2023

"We never felt they were strangers."

Fathia Youssef reflects on working alongside NP as a Women Protection Team member: "We created it together as protection for women. As a first condition, as a protection method."

2023 Emergency Response


The Sudan conflict erupted on April 15, 2023, triggering violent clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), intensifying pre-existing concerns about civilian protection.

But NP was there.

In the lead-up to April 15, our teams on the ground were focusing on early warning and early response efforts. Immediately following the outbreak, ongoing context analysis became a priority. Within hours, we implemented strategies for rumor control, digital accompaniment, and a public appeal for a humanitarian corridor. In the days that followed, our efforts included establishing protective presence and facilitating access to health centers, hosting child-friendly spaces, and coordinating advocacy for various protection needs.

NP North Darfur team pose for a picture in front of a building.
NP North Darfur team after delivering psychological first aid training to community members. Dafur, May 2023. ©NP

Enhancing resiliency, responding to trauma:
Psychological First Aid

“All of my family, including our children and my mother, have been in seriously acute stress and shock. One of my beloved daughters was in a panic situation. At the time, all health clinics and service provider centers were closed, everyone was running to save their lives … I was trying to help and support but, unfortunately, I never received training on psychological first aid. I was so excited and very prepared to receive the training so as to help myself, my family and my community.” - Abualgasim Abdalla Yagoub, NP Protection Officer in North Darfur. ​

NP has since trained 630 total participants across 7 trainings for people in need of psychological first aid support and 40 sessions for individual cases.

Widespread CRSV & SGBV prevention and response: ​
Info Sharing & Survivor Support

Survivors of conflict-related sexual violence and sexual and gender-based violence are overwhelmingly not accessing medical care due to a lack of information on services available. NP, through our staff and networks, shares information on existing services.

NP also supports survivors directly, referring them to nearby clinics and accompanying them to receive medical treatment. 

Women Protection Team members during the #16Days celebrations. Darfur, November 2023. ©NP

"No choice but to respond," strengthening local skills: ​
Community Protection Teams

Prior to April, NP had established 15+ protection committees, including Women Protection Teams and Early Warning/Early Response Committees, throughout the region. Some of these groups are formed by diverse members of community members and work to identify and mitigate protection threats to their communities. ​

When a young woman was accused of a deliberate miscarriage, it led to her and her mother’s arrest. But the local Women Protection Team successfully advocated with the local administration and police to look at the facts in more detail, leading to the release of both the young woman and her mother.

There are dozens of Women Protection Team members like this one across North Darfur, working alongside NP on community protection—from SGBV prevention and response to family reunification. There are 4 groups (120 members total) in Zamzam IDP camp alone, 1 formed in El Fasher since April​.​

There are also 3 Early Warning/Early Response Committees: (~30 people each) that have been formed since April, with a fourth one on its way. These groups have been working together, conducting early threat detection, identifying safe movement routes and secure gathering areas, building emergency supply reserves, supporting trained youth groups. The overall goal is to swiftly respond to emergencies, while also identifying and integrating vulnerable community members, including those with special needs, into the early warning and response system and plans.

Engaging in crisis zones:
NP Staff as Civilian Leaders 

NP staff are trusted leaders in the community, and this is built upon their existing ties as well as consistently showing up. In November, the security situation to the west of El Fasher meant there were no water supplies coming into the town. The cost of one barrel had risen to 10USD in some areas, and water was the primary concern of the displaced population who is now living in town. As an alternative, the NP team were able to hire a small vehicle, mobilise volunteer engineers and fix or increase the capacity of various water pumps at 5 different IDP gathering sites (collectively housing approximately 1,000 households). 

Gathering accurate numbers on housing destroyed by rains. ZamZam Camp. August 28, 2023. © NP

Clearer risk analysis at the granular level:
Accessing the "Inaccessible"

In Zamzam Camp, NP holds a unique position with established relationships spanning various checkpoints and groups. Regular engagement with the Community Protection Teams and other contacts, enables them to diligently monitor the daily situation in the camp. While some other INGOs may perceive Zamzam camp as "inaccessible," NP leverages relationships and their trained community networks to identify safe days to travel to the camp. This granular perspective distinguishes NP's commitment to navigating challenges and ensuring a timely and impactful presence in Zamzam camp.

Other INGOs can use NP's security analysis to improve their access in the short term. In the long term, NP's continued presence in areas perceived as "too risky" historically leads to increased INGO presence.

Meeting with newly-arrived IDPs during assessment along ZamZam road and Al Sowra area. Southern El Fasher. June 7, 2023 © NP

An ear to the ground, amplifying local needs:
Advocacy for Conflict-Sensitive Aid

NP is working with other humanitarian actors and state ministries to deliver conflict-sensitive aid in North Darfur. NP supports the emergency committee formed by the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) to conduct needs assessments, map IDP locations, and coordinate humanitarian interventions.

For example, NP is dedicated to supporting displaced families arriving in Zamzam camp by providing protection during the distribution of essential items. Through our protection mainstreaming approach, NP ensures that distribution points are safe spaces, free from violence and abuse, especially for people exposed to additional risk factors. By advocating for protection considerations throughout humanitarian response (using granular-level analysis and reports) NP aims to create a secure and dignified environment for all within the camp. 

Multilateral advocacy & public communications:
Keeping Eyes on Sudan

Directly and together with coalitions, NP provides context updates, expert analysis, and policy recommendations to policymakers and duty bearers from the United Nations to the U.S. Congress. NP is consistently amplifying Sudanese voices to the international community, keeping the media spotlight on the conflict through television and op-eds.

* * *

"In our culture, we often use songs to mobilise people around issues of social justice. An Arabic-language song I often sing is called Our Hands Boy, Our Hands for Our Country. The message of the song is simple: It is our hands that will save our country and lead us to a promising future. 

We can do the job ourselves, the song says. All we ask is for your help at this moment of need.

Sara Mohammed Sulaiman, a native of El-Fasher, North Darfur
NP Protection Officer and gender-based violence focal point

You can protect civilians who are living in or fleeing violent conflict. Your contribution will transform the world's response to conflict.
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