Supporting Darfur’s rural communities through the COVID-19 pandemic

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COVID-19 materials provided to communities in Northern Darfur via DCPSF © UNDP Sudan/Omer Mastour/DCPSF

North Darfur, Sudan: COVID-19 has impacted lives around the world in many ways. For rural communities with limited health and other key infrastructure, the pandemic has exacerbated an already challenging situation.

Seeking to strengthen COVID-19 preparedness and health protection, the Darfur Community Peace and Stability Fund (DCPSF) launched an emergency response, improving access to essential Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) infrastructure and knowledge in rural communities around El Fasher, Kutum and Al Waha in North Darfur.

The response included distributing protective supplies to local leaders and community members for use in high-risk public spaces. Supplies provided include:

  • 16 handwashing stations (with soap) installed in 10 marketplaces and six health centres across 14 villages.
  • Fumigation materials (spray and equipment) provided to the health centres and marketplaces to ensure regular disinfecting.
  • Hundreds of facemasks.

"We thank UNDP and DCPSF for providing these items, which are important for the community's continued health, and ensuring they remain productive and able to take care of their families," said State Ministry of Health official Osman Abdalla Adam.

Along with the protection supplies, posters and flyers (pictured left) have been provided to the 14 North Darfur villages, alongside briefing sessions for the community on protecting themselves against the deadly virus.

Spearheading awareness efforts, community hygiene promoters have taken a lead role in safely sharing COVID-19 information, using mosques, community markets and El Fasher’s local radio station.

Fortunately, the 14 villages remain COVID-19 free, but awareness, protection and prevention are key to ensuring the community remains safe. This is particularly critical now with the approaching rainy season, which increases the challenge of reaching community members – predominantly farmers, and a few nomads – many who are busy with planting, with limited time to attend COVID-19 briefings.

Additionally, with no cases yet reported, some parts of the community harbour doubts regarding the pandemic, making awareness raising even more essential.

Speaking to villagers, Bahaaeldeen Ahmed, project manager for UNDP’s local partner Welthungerhilfe (WHH), said “prevention is better than cure”, and encouraged people to take steps to safeguard their community before COVID-19 arrived.

“Our goal is to support community efforts to manage this pandemic alongside other ongoing peacebuilding initiatives,” said DCPSF’s Omer Mastour, “which is only possible with the support of our national and international partners.”

Together, DCPSF and partners have been working to provide similar COVID-19 assistance in Central, South, East and West Darfur, implementing partners in each state received a US$50,000 grant, totaling US$250,000. The COVID-19 support is intended to reinforce ongoing peacebuilding activities ensure that Darfuri communities remain resilient in the face of both the pandemic and ongoing communal conflicts.

DCPSF’s COVID-19 preparedness efforts in Darfur have been made possible by generous contributions from the Governments of Sweden, United Kingdom Norway and Switzerland.

The Darfur Community Peace and Stability Fund (DCPSF) is a multi-donor programme established in 2007 to support the people of Darfur in their efforts to rebuild long established community stability mechanisms, through mediation, reconciliation and peaceful settlement of conflicts.

DCPSF is managed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).