Sudan: North Darfur State - Second Humanitarian Assessment - 20-23 March 2005


Executive Summary

The eight month period between the first assessment conducted in August 2004 and the findings of this mission are characterised by an overall improvement in the security situation for the civilian population living in the area known as Dar Zagawa in North Darfur.

The recent opening of the area by UNSECOORD after a fatal incident involving Save the Children UK in the area, has made way for a follow up mission to be conducted to assess the overall humanitarian needs of both displaced and non-displaced communities in this generally SLM/A held area.

Overall the coping mechanisms of the communities visited are deteriorating due to continuous restriction of access to main markets which are severely impacting on livelihoods. Internal displacement of rural communities, as a result of insecurity and traditional poor agricultural practices, into the Northern part of Dar Zagawa is increasing the pressure on water and food supplies (in particular grazing for livestock and wild food).

The communities all rated their priority needs in descending order as food, water and health facilities. Achieving a lasting peace settlement in Darfur is vital to guarantee freedom of movement which underlines the traditional mechanisms of living in a harsh desert environment. Continued restriction of movement to main market locations, in combination with drought conditions already affecting the area, will have a devastating effect on the livelihoods of isolated and remote rural villages.

Key findings and recommendations are provided for each sectoral area - protection, food security, water and sanitation, health and nutrition, and education. A plan of action outlines clear activities and tasks needed from the humanitarian community to ensure that the already precarious conditions of the communities in Dar Zagawa do not further deteriorate.

The mission recommends that immediate humanitarian assistance be provided to the assessed area of Dar Zagawa, following a full and extensive head count and registration process.

Overtures have been made by the controlling forces of the area to fully support an international organisation to establish a permanent presence in the area with full access for humanitarian activities.

Whilst the situation in Dar Zagawa does not present as a textbook case emergency, it is evident that there is a severe and rapid deteriorating of livelihoods for all communities in the area.

Without an immediate plan for humanitarian assistance, this deterioration will trigger an irreversible downward spiral into increased displacement of villages, possible tensions between host and IDP communities over access to water supplies, culminating in an unpredictable affect on civilian populations which may lead to famine-like situation across the area.

In the short term, immediate food distribution assistance, rehabilitation of existing water supply and construction of new water sources, and an immediate re-establishment of basic primary health care services with specific attention to maternal health care is essential. In the medium term continued food distribution, water supply rehabilitation, and a full assessment of the existing health facilities, and the provision of education and recreational materials to schools is required.

Clearly, all of these activities will need to be based on a thorough disaggregated head count and registration process to ensure that interventions reach the communities most in need.

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