Sudan, June 29, 5 participants, Organizer: Sudanese Development Initiative (SUDIA)
On 29 June 2014, the Sudanese Development Initiative (SUDIA) organized a Focus Group Discussion on Local Participatory Democracy.
5 people participated in the meeting including representatives from: the Nuba Women for Education and Development Association (NuWEDA), the Public Budget Monitoring Forum, the Al-Alag Media Centre, the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and a lawyer from Darfur.
Sudanese people love to debate and we were expecting some fierce discussions. However, if the questions of the survey raised some debate, our participants agreed very easily on their answers.
The group readily concluded that the state of local participatory democracy and democracy in general in Sudan is very poor, and there is definitely room for improvement.
The participants agreed that it is extremely difficult for Sudanese to be active citizens since there are no mechanisms (e.g. right to information law, public forums, citizen organizations) to encourage their participation or protect their rights.
However, it was noted that more and more NGOs are focusing on the representation of marginalized groups and women.
Regarding political decentralization, there was consensus that most decisions are taken in Khartoum and that the process of decentralization has so far been very inefficient.
There is, however, administrative decentralization in Sudan, but the quality of the services delivered by local governments is usually very poor and corruption is endemic.
Furthermore, due to the ongoing conflict in Sudan, some states (i.e. in Darfur and the two areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile) are completely marginalized and usually have very little access to public services and development strategy.
The participants raised their concerns regarding the difficulties for local and international NGOs to conduct any work on human rights or citizens’ representation as the Sudanese government is actively trying to restrict their activities.
We would like to thank The Hunger Project for giving us the opportunity to hold such an interesting discussion, which was greatly appreciated by all the participants.
– Claire Flechais, Sudanese Development Initiative