Sudan has long struggled with conflict, famine, and poverty. North Sudan consists primarily of Arab-speaking Muslims, who control the military-led government as well. Their domination of non-Arab-speaking, non-Muslim southern Sudanese over the past half-century and resulting ethnic conflict, rebel militia fighting, and genocide have resulted in an estimated 2 million deaths and 4 million internally displaced persons (IDPs). IRD is provide grants designed to kick start income generation, build the capacity of local NGOs, and improve basic infrastructure in urban areas.
In 2006 IRD conducted a joint humanitarian needs assessment with the UN World Food Program, which focused on Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile Province, and on villages along the Sobat River, an area east of Malakal continuing all the way to the Ethiopian border. High levels of IDPs and refugees have returned and few agencies are working.
Since the assessment, IRD began work on two UNDP-funded grants titled Rapid Impact Emergency Project (RIEP) for Malakal, and Kuajok, capital of the Warrap State. The grants are designed to focus on generation of income, capacity building for local NGOs, and improvements in basic infrastructure in the urban realm. The main objectives of the RIEP project are to enhance the existing community infrastructure and local access to income generation through labor-intensive public works such as repairs of drainage systems, roads, culverts, buildings, and water and sanitation systems. During the start-up and implementation, IRD coordinated with the local government and the UN to define and manage the urban infrastructure construction.
Also, in partnership with USAID and the National Democratic Institute, IRD distributes wind-up and solar-powered radios to the residents of Upper Nile state. This democracy and governance program allows residents to have access and involvement in the peace process and local government of the region.
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