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Socio-Economic Assessment: East Darfur and West Kordofan States, Sudan

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Sudan has a long history of hosting refugees and asylum seekers, some of whom are looking for better employment opportunities, but most are fleeing conflict in neighbouring countries. The majority of the 1.1 million refugees are South Sudanese, but Sudan also hosts refugees from Chad, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Many of the refugees in Sudan reside in rural out-of-camp settlements, which are often located in remote and underdeveloped areas with limited resources, infrastructure and basic services in the country’s southern states, Darfur, Kordofan and White Nile. Furthermore, since November 2020, more than 56,000 refugees from Ethiopia arrived in Sudan’s Eastern states, fleeing the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

Moreover, another 1.9 million people remain internally displaced because of long-term recurring conflict caused by unresolved and inter-communal clashes, aggravated by small arms proliferation and the presence of heavily armed tribal militias. Protracted displacement puts communities across Sudan at risk of protection threats, including gender-based violence, targeted attacks, and violations of basic human rights. The restriction on freedom of movement in conflict-affected areas also affects these communities’ ability to engage in income generating activities. This contributes to the undermining of opportunities to support self-reliance and pursue durable solutions to displacement.

In 2019, the Partnership for improving prospects for host communities and forcibly displaced persons (PROSPECTS) was launched with support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (Netherlands MFA). The Partnership is focusing its technical assistance on improving the quality of life for forcibly displaced and host communities from al Nimir camp and the nearby settlement of Assalaya in East Darfur, and Al Meiram and Kharasana Settlements in West Kordofan.

The analytical framework for this study was jointly developed by Consilient Global Sudan, the PROSPECTS Sudan programme team, the PROSPECTS Global Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, as well as a number of key technical specialists from various ILO technical departments. This includes, technical specialists from the Skills and Employability Branch, the Enterprises Department, the ILO’s Jobs for Peace and Resilience Unit, the Child labour Branch, and the ILO’s Social Protection Department.

Surveying more than 1,100 households from forcibly displaced and host communities and conducting a number of key informant interviews and focus group discussions, the study provides an in-depth assessment of local labour market conditions, household vulnerabilities, and access to services in selected localities of East Darfur and West Kordofan. Thereby, it establishes comprehensive baseline data in support of the Programme’s results based monitoring framework, provides relevant contextual knowledge on social cohesion and market opportunities to identify the design of ILO activities and policy advice, and advises on beneficiary selection criteria.

I would like to congratulate the Government of Sudan for its continuous efforts towards creating the necessary conditions to promote self-reliance and integration of refugee populations, in spite of the numerous economic and political challenges faced in the country. I would particularly like to thank Consilient Global for their excellent work in conducting the assessment, and the UNHCR and UNICEF and the IFC for their collaboration with the ILO. Finally, I would like to thank the Embassy of the Netherlands for their generous support to this assessment and the production of this report, undertaken in the wider context of the innovative PROSPECTS Partnership.

Alexio Musindo
ILO Country Office for Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan and Special Representative to the African Union (AU) and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)