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Save the Children began working in Sudan in 1984, conducting programs for children and families affected by conflict, displacement, extreme poverty, hunger and a lack of basic services. Many of the children and families we served were among the most vulnerable and hardest to reach.
In March 2004, with permission of the government of Sudan, Save the Children entered Darfur to address the urgent needs of children and families displaced by several years of conflict. Within a month of our arrival, we had launched a large-scale response that became a sustained relief operation to provide hundreds of thousands of children and adult members of their families — especially women — with access to lifesaving food and water, basic health care and emergency obstetrical care for women, protection programs, and educational and income-generating activities.
As Save the Children was completing its fifth year in West Darfur, we received a letter from the Sudanese authorities asking us to suspend operations in northern Sudan. We were among 13 international aid organizations — including our sister agency, Save the Children UK — to have their registrations revoked. Read more.
Save the Children has been in South Sudan for over a decade and, to date, our initiatives there continue.
In Sudan, the challenges children face are enormous. Because of ongoing conflict, many children live under the threat of violence, as well as the possibility of exploitation and abuse. They also often face food and water shortages, inadequate or non-existent healthcare and little hope for an education. As a result, Sudan has one of the lowest life expectancies in the world, and one of the highest infant mortality rates.
Until the suspension of work in West Darfur, Save the Children was reaching displaced children and women in camps and surrounding conflict-affected communities every month — providing protection for the most vulnerable; conducting education, health and livelihood programs; and assisting in the coordination and management of four camps. Our lifesaving efforts included:
Our Response in the Transitional Areas (South Kordofan State and Abyei Area) and Um Ruwaba
Save the Children is working to improve the health of women, children and their families through a variety of programs. One aim is to increase immunization coverage against childhood diseases among children under a year old, and among expectant mothers against tetanus. Other efforts include training village midwives to increase the proportion of skilled attendants present at delivery, as well as constructing or rehabilitating health clinics.
Over the past three years, access to proper sanitary facilities and safe drinking water has been provided to over 100,000 people. Activities include drilling boreholes, repairing hand pumps, installing latrines and promoting safe hygiene.
In Abyei, thousands of displaced people returning to the region are supported during their reintegration through distributions of food and non-food items. School children and teachers in 34 schools receive hot meals through a Food for Education program. Elsewhere in South Kordofan, Save the Children has implemented programs that include distribution of seeds and tools for improved cultivation and offering community managed tractor services to increase agricultural production.
Education services in many areas of Sudan, already weak prior to the war, have deteriorated further due to lack of resources, insecurity and poverty. Save the Children seeks to provide children with schools that have a conducive, inclusive, safe and healthy learning environment. Our activities include the construction and/or rehabilitation of classrooms, provision of school supplies and basic training for teachers. In addition, we will work with other agencies and institutions to increase enrollment, particularly that of girls.
The protection of Sudanese children remains a critical issue for Save the Children. There are a number of protection issues that we address, including: reintegration of separated children; the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers; and support for communities affected by violence. In addition, we have implemented special programs to identify and support vulnerable women in communities and reduce gender-based violence.
The goal of our Economic Opportunities and Livelihoods program is to increase the standard of living by improving household incomes. Livelihoods initiatives include poultry production, beekeeping, tree nurseries, the provision of flour mills and vegetable seeds and training for income-generating projects.
Save the Children established three Child Centers in the Dorti camp near Geneina in West Darfur, where 8,000 people settled, having fled the violence that drove them from their villages. In Dorti, and in camps throughout Darfur, children who have already lived through terrible experiences are raised in unpredictable and unstable environments. The Child Centers provide a safe and protective environment for children's normative development.
Hussein and his family came to Dorti 3 years ago. Once they had arrived, the family began to see changes in Hussein. He became withdrawn, refused to leave the house by himself, wouldn't speak to adults and was reluctant to play with other children.
Several months later, Save the Children opened the first of three Child Centers. Hussein was recognized as extremely vulnerable, needing normalcy and a protective environment. Through our encouragement, Hussein's family agreed to let him participate in activities at the center.
In the beginning, Hussein would sit by himself, would not speak and rarely took part in any activities. He had difficulty making friends and kept himself apart from the group. But after three years at the center, Hussein is now one of the most active and eager participants. Bahar, the Community Liaison Officer in Dorti camp, saw the remarkable change in Hussein: "In the beginning, the other children would arrive at the center and Hussein would still be outside. If anyone spoke to him or asked him to join the activities he would turn and run away. But now he is the first child to arrive and he participates in everything."
Without the Child Center, Hussein would not have had the opportunity to develop socially, intellectually, physically or emotionally. The center has provided him with a safe, protective space, and is an integral part of his daily activities that has helped him regain a sense of normalcy.
Sudan Facts and Statistics
Unless otherwise noted, facts and statistics have been sourced from Save the Children’s 2012 State of the World’s Mothers report. You can access detailed data here.
Other sources as follows: Infant Mortality Rate: CIA World Factbook 2012; Life Expectancy at Birth: World Bank's World Development Indicators 2012; National Poverty Rate: World Bank's World Development Indicators 2012; Population: CIA World Factbook 2012; Human Development Index Rank: United Nations Development Program
Last Updated June 2013