In 2017, Sudan was fraught with conflict, failed harvests and lack of humanitarian access.

Facts about Sudan

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

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Around 4.8 million people needed daily humanitarian assistance in Sudan in 2017. Of these, 2.3 million are internally displaced. Sudan also receives a high number of South Sudanese refugees.

Aid agencies and the UN system struggle to obtain good results. This is partly due to the difficulty in obtaining access to regions where people need assistance.
Armed conflicts in the regions of South-Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur have resulted in widespread poverty and difficult living conditions. The delayed rainy season has led to ruined crops.

The authorities use large portions of the meagre state budget on the military and the security service.

The population has poor access to services such as:

  • health
  • education
  • infrastructure
  • humanitarian services.


Historic overview: Sudan and Norwegian Development Cooperation

Sudan is one of the largest countries in Africa. Conflict between Arab culture and traditions with African roots has a long history, and has continued in Sudan since its independence. The relationship between Islam and other religions forms a significant part of the picture.

The first civil war between north and south ended with a peace treaty in 1972, following which Norwegian Church Aid helped with post-conflict reconstruction in the province of Eastern Equatoria. 1983 saw the outbreak of a new war, between the SPLM rebel movement in the south and the authorities in the capital city of Khartoum.

Norwegian People’s Aid worked with the rebels’ humanitarian organisation to bring emergency assistance to the civilian population in the south.

From the 1990s, Norway supported peace negotiations between the warring parties, and in 2005 the peace treaty was signed that paved the way for the independence of South Sudan in 2011. At the same time, Norwegian support to Sudan was significantly augmented, and the country became one of the largest recipients of Norwegian development aid. In addition to the war between north and south, Sudan also has other ongoing armed conflicts, for example in the Darfur region.


Sudan’s strained relationship with the US may be about to change. In October 2017, the US lifted many of the economic sanctions against the country after Sudanese authorities showed positive progress in five areas.

The five areas in which the US wanted progress were the following:

  1. cooperation on terrorism
  2. cooperation on the Lord’s Resistance Army and its leader Joseph Kony
  3. ceasefire in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur
  4. cooperation on South Sudan
  5. improved humanitarian access.

The lifting of sanctions may lead to an increase in trade with Sudan and could mean the end of Sudan’s international isolation.

The US introduced economic sanctions against Sudan in 1993. In the same year, Sudan was placed on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism. Sudan still appears on this list.

President Omar al-Bashir came to power in a military coup in 1989 and remains in power. The president is accused of war crimes and genocide. The International Court of Justice in The Hague has decreed that it will prosecute al-Bashir for the genocide of ethnic groups in Darfur.

Sudan’s foreign policy is especially directed towards the Arab world. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are the main supporters of the al-Bashir regime from an economic standpoint. Sudan also maintains a special relationship with its neighbouring countries of Egypt and South Sudan.

Following the lifting of sanctions in October 2017, it is anticipated that Sudan will attempt to forge closer relationships with Western countries than previously. The Foreign Minister, Ibrahim Ghandour, has a hectic travel programme and frequently visits European countries as well as the US.


Sudan has debts of approximately USD 52 billion which it is not in a position to service.

Business and industry are relatively one-sided, and characterised by isolation and monopolisation. The lifting of US sanctions in 2017 may pave the way for increased trade and investment.

Almost all imports stem from countries such as China, Turkey and Egypt. The quality of goods sold is poor, and they are relatively costly.

Norwegian development cooperation with Sudan

The primary objective of Norway’s presence in Sudan is to contribute to the implementation of agreements with the aim of achieving peace in Sudan and peace between Sudan and South Sudan.

The main channels for development assistance are the UN system and some Norwegian and international aid organisations.

Total Norwegian aid to Sudan in 2017 amounted to around NOK 107.9 million. This includes contributions to peacekeeping operations and humanitarian assistance managed by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Oslo.

Oil for Development

Norway and Sudan have cooperated on the development of the oil and gas sector since 2006. A new agreement with Oil for Development was signed in 2016.

In 2016, a new legislative framework and new guidelines for the petroleum sector were developed as a result of the cooperation.

Work on surveying and data collection of oil resources has improved Sudan’s opportunities for sustainable management of its oil. Oil for Development has helped raise awareness of robust environmental management.

The programme has paved the way for further development of the climate of cooperation between the oil ministries in Sudan and South Sudan.

Conflict mitigation interventions

Approximately one-third of the support to Sudan takes the form of humanitarian assistance to areas affected by conflict. This applies particularly to South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur.

Below we list some examples of conflict mitigation interventions that Norway supports:


The conflict in Darfur has been ongoing since 2003 between government-backed forces and rebel groups.

Battles are still continuing. The region is fraught with lawlessness, large quantities of weapons and absence of the rule of law.

UNAMID is a joint operation between the African Union and the UN. They maintain some form of security for inhabitants and aid workers.

Over time, UNAMID will withdraw from Darfur, and has begun this process in 2017. The force will be reduced by 30 to 40 per cent, and will withdraw completely from a number of areas in Dafur. Sudanese authorities will have to fill the ‘security gap’ that will open up when the forces withdraw.

Norway supports efforts for peace and stability in Darfur.

The Darfur Community Peace and Stability Fund is managed by UNDP with support from Norway and others.

The programme has helped to resolve conflicts without the use of violence. It has also contributed to relationship-building across local communities. This will prevent the outbreak of conflict in the future.

The fund is one of several interventions that help to mitigate conflict when its level has escalated.

The programme has helped enable part of Darfur’s population to become self-reliant.

South Korfodan and Blue Nile

There are regular outbreaks of hostilities in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Negotiations between the authorities and the rebel group SPLM-N have not resulted in a ceasefire. International humanitarian agencies have no access to rebel-controlled areas.

Norway supports conflict prevention efforts in government-controlled areas of South Kordofan, with a focus on sedentary farmers and the nomad population. The African organisation SOS-Sahel has received Norwegian support for this work since 2011. SOS-Sahel has helped to mitigate conflict under difficult conditions.

In 2017 the project has achieved:

  • fewer cases of conflict between Nomads and farmers
  • improved access to water for the inhabitants in the Rashad region of southern Sudan
  • improvement in areas of pastureland
  • better access to veterinary services.

Mapping of marine resources

More responsible use of renewable marine resources in the Red Sea will replenish fisheries in the coastal areas of eastern Sudan.

Norway’s objective is to help establish statistics for fishery catches and the marine resources in Sudanese marine areas.

In 2017 the project has achieved:

  • better institutional capacity to plan scientific studies
  • improved data collection at Sudan’s largest fish market
  • upgrading of the authorities’ database for fisheries resources

National bureau of statistics

An institutional cooperation between Statistics Norway and the Central Bureau of Statistics has continued for more than three years.

The programme, which concludes in 2017, has enabled calculation of the poverty line and establishment of electronic questionnaires. The project has also helped improve coordination of administrative registries in Sudan.

Storage of historical material

Norway has supported a project for the digitisation and storage of the national television channel archives.

The project is a collaboration between the University of Bergen, the Sudanese Ministry of Information and Communications, and the Sudan National Broadcasting Corporation.

The aim is to digitise and store films and videos from the Sudan National Broadcasting Corporation archives. This is to prevent the loss of important historical material, and to make it available for research.

In 2016, the project enabled the historical material from Sudan’s national TV station to be stored under better conditions than was previously the case. During 2017, old TV broadcasts will be digitised to make them available for the public.

Read more about development cooperation through:

Voluntary organisations

Norwegian Church Aid is the only Norwegian aid organisation in Sudan. Its work focuses on nutrition, health, and water and sanitation. The organisation works in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Norwegian Church Aid also supplements the work of the Norwegian Embassy. They work to improve health services to vulnerable groups, increase value creation and create jobs.

Published 28.08.2014
Last updated 19.07.2018