Sudan is characterized by political tensions, widespread conflict in regions such as Darfur and South Kordofan, and huge economic and humanitarian challenges.

Facts about Sudan

The flag for Sudan
Life expectancy
The flag for Sudan
GNI pr capita
The flag for Sudan
Percentage poor people (below 1.25$)
The flag for Sudan
The flag for Sudan

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Sudan’s relationship with South Sudan is important for the development of the country, and the crisis that broke out in South Sudan in December 2013 has since then affected this development.

When South Sudan gained its independence in July 2011, Sudan found itself in an entirely new situation: overnight the country lost 75 per cent of its oil reserves, one-third of its territory and one-quarter of its population. Sudan has an oppressive regime, and there is a wide gulf between the party of the regime, the National Congress Party (NCP), and large sections of the opposition. Safeguarding civil and political rights is weak and there are significant human rights violations, widespread poverty and difficult living conditions in all regions outside central parts of the country. Delivery of basic services is also poor, and the humanitarian challenges are numerous.

National dialogue

The NCP dominates politically in Sudan, although the government also has some representation by the traditional opposition parties such as Umma and DUP. However, the opposition is generally weak and does not represent a genuine political alternative. Attempts to establish a common platform or to coordinate resistance to the regime have met with little success. Violent conflicts and the difficult economic situation led to President Omar al Bashir and the NCP inviting the opposition to participate in a national dialogue in December 2013. The traditional Muslim and in part Islamist opposition has so far joined this dialogue, but it remains to be seen whether it will lead to real economic and political reforms.

Negotiations between the authorities and the SPLM-N rebel group in South Kordofan and Blue Nile have not yielded results to date. There are regular military actions in the two regions, and tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee.

The situation in Darfur has deteriorated in the past six months, with battles between the army, paramilitary forces and various rebel groups, as well as internally between different ethnic groups, and more than 300,000 people were forced to flee in 2014 alone.


The economic situation is serious. This is reinforced by the absence of implementation of the agreement system with the government in Juba and now also by the crisis in South Sudan. It is not known whether oil transport will be able to continue, and to what extent. As of February 2014, the conflict in South Sudan had reduced revenues from oil transport by 20 per cent, and there is great risk of a further drop. Sudan also has a large external debt.

Industry is one-sided, and political and economic difficulties and risks limit investment and growth, while US sanctions also impede international financial services, internationalization and growth. Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, China and India are important trading partners and investors.

Arrests of the opposition

There are considered to be around 200 confirmed political opponents imprisoned in Sudan, but the actual number is presumably higher. In addition, tens of people are still in prison following the student demonstrations against the regime in September 2013, without access to their families or to legal aid. Several new arrests have also been made since President Bashir launched the national dialogue. The press is subject to direct and indirect control, freedom of speech for civil society is being constantly restricted and the situation has deteriorated since the September 2013 demonstrations. Sexual violence, early marriage, polygamy, domestic violence and female genital mutilation are also all extensive problems.

The Nile

The world’s longest river, the Nile, flows through Sudan and is of crucial importance for Sudan’s development. The Blue Nile which flows from Ethiopia and the White Nile from Lake Victoria converge in Khartoum. In 2013 Sudan chose to give its support to Ethiopia which is constructing the Renaissance Dam close to its border with Sudan. The dam will yield revenues from power to Ethiopia, while Sudan will be able to use the water for irrigation purposes, which in turn could affect the water supply to Egypt, which lies further downstream.

Sudan is often referred to as the breadbasket of the region, both by Sudan itself and other countries in the region outside the Nile Basin. However, this can only be the case if the country receives enough investment and regularizes its agricultural policy. Use of the Nile’s water resources may intensify in the period ahead.

Sudan has extensive environmental problems linked in part to desertification and mining activity. Poverty, conflict and weak administration mean that generally little attention is paid to environmental and climate issues.

Development aid

The cooperation with Sudan is important to Norway as a link in its work for peace and for two viable states. This work is conducted in cooperation with the African Union and the so-called troika comprising the USA, the UK and Norway.

Other priorities:

  • humanitarian aid and development cooperation
  • conflict prevention and mitigation in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, Abyei and Darfur
  • a limited state-to-state cooperation (including oil for development)

Women and gender equality

Norwegian development aid to Sudan amounted to a total of around NOK 317 million in 2013. This includes contributions to peacekeeping operations and humanitarian assistance administered from Oslo. Approximately half of the funding is for humanitarian assistance to conflict-ridden areas, particularly South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur. The main channels are the UN system and some Norwegian and international aid organizations.

Oil for development

The activity in the oil for development programme in 2013 has been high. The programme has paved the way for modernization, increased transparency and reforms to the state oil administration. An important aspect has been the establishment of a committee which has the mandate to put forward policy proposals as background for the country’s new oil policy and legislation. This has also helped set the basis for a better and more just distribution of Sudan’s oil resources.

The work on mapping and data collection of the oil resources has increased the possibility for Sudan to establish sustainable management of its oil. Moreover, the programme has helped raise awareness of healthy management with regard to the environment and within the HES field.

The programme has also provided for the further development of the climate of professional cooperation between the oil ministries of Sudan and South Sudan. This can be utilized to promote political progress between Sudan and South Sudan.

Marine resources

The objective of the project is to compile statistics on the Sudanese marine fishing catch. In 2013, this laid the foundation for sustainable exploitation of renewable marine resources in the Red Sea and for the reinforcement and development of traditional coastal fisheries.

Two expeditions to survey fisheries were undertaken in 2013, compared to one previous voyage in 2012. Sudan will use the survey for several years in the future to compile sound statistics on fishing catch that can be used in the management of fisheries resources.

Other projects:

Digitalization and storage of the Sudanese TV archive: The project is a collaboration between the University of Bergen (UiB), the Sudanese Ministry of Information and Sudanese television. The aim is to digitalize and store films and video footage from Sudanese television to prevent historical material being lost, and to make the material available for research. An agreement between UiB and the Ministry of Information was signed in October 2013 after an extensive delay. The challenges of importing technical equipment into Sudan have resulted in some changes to the project.

SOS Sahel – local conflict-reducing interventions in South Kordofan: The project began in 2011 and the organization has received support to its conflict prevention work with the nomadic population of South Kordofan and Abyei.

Results from project start-up:

  • Training completed of more than 600 people and 31 local organizations in conflict management, methods of negotiation and management of natural resources.
  • Improvement in the water supply for more than 13,000 people in areas of repeated conflict, through rehabilitation of water reservoirs, two boreholes and training of 17 local people in maintenance of the water stations.
  • Training of ten people in basic veterinary skills, support to two vaccination campaigns and implementation of an exercise in marking and rehabilitating corridors for the movement of cattle.
  • Occupational training has been provided for 38 former cattle farmers in new occupations such as those of carpenter, smith, electrician, bricklayer and mechanic. Some of these have set up their own businesses in their local areas.


The Darfur Community Peace and Stability Fund works to create peace and stability at a local level and to support the general peace negotiations in Darfur. The programme has contributed to peacebuilding at ground level through strengthening existing local methods of building peace and contributing to new ones. This helps conflicts to be resolved without the use of violence, and it also assists in building relationships across local communities. The objective is to prevent conflict erupting in the future. The programme is considered to be a successful intervention that contributes to mitigating conflict in a situation in which there has been a serious escalation in the level of conflict in the last two years. The programme is also an important supplement to humanitarian aid. Norway contributed over NOK 9 million to the fund in 2013.

The UN Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) received a disbursement of NOK 60 million. The Norwegian support contributed to rapid and effective funding for humanitarian needs.

Protection of women and children

Norway supports a programme through UNICEF that aims to increase the safety of women and children in conflict situations. In 2013, Norway disbursed NOK 3 million to the programme.

Some results from programme start-up to the present:

  • More than 11,000 children have benefited from a programme that has endeavoured to reintegrate them into their local communities. Approximately 450 of these were previously associated with armed groups.
  • 271 Sudanese army personnel have been trained in children’s rights and child protection..
  • Psychosocial support has been given to more than 43,000 victims of violence.
  • Family and child protection units (FCPUs) provide support to war-affected children by establishing children’s areas in refugee camps.
  • Family and child protection units (FCPUs) were first established in the Sudanese police in Khartoum in 2007, and are now being expanded to 17 states. More than 15,000 children have received help.

Women and gender equality

The cooperation with UN Women was continued based on funding given in 2012. The project with UN Women came to an end at the close of 2013. Several of the activities and goals are impossible to achieve.

Some results:

  • Women’s needs in ten selected areas in five states of Darfur have been documented based on dialogues. This will be used by women’s organizations in their encounter with regional authorities in Darfur on women-focused implementation of the Darfur Development Strategy.
  • Raised awareness and interest by civil society organizations in mobilizing attention to the constitutional process. The objective is to ensure that the process will be participatory and inclusive.
  • Dialogues have taken place concerning the new constitution in the five states of Gezira, Kassala, North Darfur, North Kordofan and Northern State.
  • Capacity building of Sudanese women parliamentarians, the Sudanese Women Parliamentary Caucus, has been provided.


The programmes in Sudan are largely managed by the UN system, the World Bank and international organizations. The Norwegian Embassy has a bilateral programme with Sudan as part of the oil for development programme which encompasses anti-corruption work.  The multilateral organizations have separate control mechanisms which are decided centrally.

Aid effectiveness

Norwegian development aid is principally channelled through multilateral and international organizations or Norwegian institutions.

The multilateral organizations cooperate with the authorities and report regularly, including on Norwegian contributions. Norwegian institutions have Sudanese cooperation partners such as technical departments and universities. International organizations also have to cooperate with authorities at a national or local level.

In the area of humanitarian assistance, Norway cooperates closely with other donor countries, particularly in connection with a number of programmes jointly funded through the UN system.

Experiences with the UN system are mixed. The system fulfils many functions that others cannot perform, but at the same time it is found to be cumbersome. Although its humanitarian operations are costly, they reach out to far more people than the individual organizations could manage to alone.

Published 28.08.2014
Last updated 16.02.2015