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Sudan: Medair Concludes Relief Programmes in Sudan

After 12 years of relief work in Sudan, Medair has concluded a successful handover and exit process from its programmes in West Darfur and South Kordofan.

In August 2011, Medair made the strategic decision to close its programmes in West Darfur.  Active in West Darfur since 2001, Medair was the longest serving operational international agency present in the state. Medair supported 27 primary health care facilities and worked to improve access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) for the conflict-affected population.

Inside the pharmacy at a Medair clinic in a displacement camp.

Inside the pharmacy at a Medair clinic in a displacement camp.

“Medair was the first organisation to come to West Darfur. They were here before the conflict started,” wrote Abdu Salam, the Director General of the Ministry of Health (MoH) in West Darfur. “Medair helped the MoH to put a system in place. The health map totally changed under Medair’s influence. Medair helped us build the Primary Health Care sector within MoH.

“Medair not only invested in the field locations but also in their own staff,” continued Abdu Salam. “This will stay in the region. Medair leaves many good things behind. Medair is highly appreciated by MoH and the communities and will not be forgotten.”

After taking all factors into consideration, including legislation, donor requirements, beneficiary needs, staff availability, and funding, a six-month timeframe for handover and exit was deemed both realistic and appropriate. Medair promptly communicated its decision to all stakeholders including staff, communities, donors, and local and federal authorities.

Sudanese women wait to receive health care treatment at the Medair-supported Abu Suruj clinic in West Darfur.

Sudanese women wait to receive health care treatment at the Medair-supported Abu Suruj clinic in West Darfur.

“Due to our limited resources and capacity in this context, we have been unable to continue operating in West Darfur in the way that we were, and therefore the decision was made to close the programme,” said Anne Reitsema, Desk Officer for Sudan.

At the same time, Medair found itself managing its project areas in South Kordofan from afar, due to access constraints. “Despite our strong desire to respond, it became clear that for the foreseeable future Medair would not be able to do so,” said Ms. Reitsema. “For that reason and with great reluctance we decided to close the Medair Sudan country programme.” 

During this transition out of Sudan, Medair staff have been encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive support and respect from communities, staff, local authorities, donors, and partners regarding the sustainable impact of its work, the care and respect shown to the beneficiaries, and the way the exit has been carried out.

“First and on behalf of all the beneficiaries, we would like to express our thanks for your respectable organisation, for its tangible projects, sustainable activities, long and excellent services in this State,” wrote Ismail Adam Mohammed, Humanitarian Aid Commission Executive Director. “We acknowledge that Medair staff had been supportive and cooperative with us since its establishment till its close. They are keen to Sudanese traditions and also respect work laws and regulations. They used to treat targeted people with mercy and dignity... We appreciate your smooth, well-organised and fully documented handing over.”

Sudanese women gather to celebrate World Breastfeeding Day in Beida, Sudan.

Sudanese women gather to celebrate World Breastfeeding Day in Beida, Sudan.

In the six-month exit process from West Darfur, Medair successfully handed over relevant programme activities to line ministries, communities, and international and national NGOs. Although Medair’s exit has caused a shift in humanitarian actors working in West Darfur and South Kordofan, Medair has tried to ensure to the best of its ability that immediate gaps are covered by handover partners where possible.

“Medair showed they really care about the people,” concluded Abdu Salam. “They involve communities and treat people with respect. To me, Medair is the head of all humanitarian organisations. They not only improved health care in West Darfur, they brought us hope.”

Since 2008, Medair’s work in Sudan has been supported by Department for International Development (U.K.), United States Agency for International Development, Swedish International Development Cooperation, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Common Humanitarian Fund (UNDP), TEAR fund (N.Z.), United Nations Children’s Fund, and private donations.

Medair continues to actively provide emergency relief and rehabilitation in South Sudan.

Medair’s History in Sudan

Medair began working in Sudan in June 2000 with a primary health care centre in Omdurman El Salaam IDP Camp, just outside Khartoum. These activities were eventually handed over to local partners in December 2008. In 2001, Medair established itself in West Darfur and over the years provided health care and WASH to the vulnerable population. Medair was consequently the longest serving operational international agency present in the state until its exit in 2012.

In 2003, Medair began working in the Nuba Mountains area of South Kordofan, supporting access to primary health care and WASH. In 2008 and 2009, Medair successfully handed over 20 primary health care clinics to local and state authorities with their support and agreement.  In 2009 and 2010, Medair initiated programmes in areas of South Kordofan surrounding Muglad and Kailak localities to address chronic shortfalls in basic services. 

Medair’s activities in Sudan placed a strong emphasis on capacity building through training and supervision and on fostering local ownership so that its work would have a long-lasting sustainable impact when the time came for it to exit the country.

This web update was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.



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