NDI in Sudan
Through its 2009-2011 U.S. Agency for International Development program, NDI sought to mobilize an informed public to serve as the foundation for a democratic future. NDI partnered with local organizations to conduct domestic observation of the 2010 national elections in all 25 states, civic and voter education, the Let’s Talk radio program and focus group research in the Three Areas (Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile, Abyei).
During the April 2010 national election and the Southern Sudan Self-Determination Referendum in January 2011, NDI provided financial and technical support to civil society organizations in northern and southern Sudan to observe these political processes. Two coalitions of civil society organizations—the Sudan Group for Democracy and Elections (SuGDE) and its southern counterpart, the South Sudanese Network for Democracy and Elections (SuNDE)—trained and deployed 400 observers for the April 2010 elections in all 25 states. The groups collected and electronically stored more than 13,500 observation reports, analyzed them and wrote a report using that data. The same month, SuGDE and SuNDE released the first-ever nonpartisan nation-wide domestic observation report in Sudan, in which they declared, based on their observations, that “the elections did not fulfill the Interim Constitution’s and CPA’s aspirations for democratic transition and did not adequately meet the requirements of the National Elections Commission rules and regulations.”
The two groups continued their cooperation for the voting on the 2011 Southern Sudan Self-Determination Referendum where they used more than 3,000 observers and collected more than 11,000 observer reports that were analyzed. SuGDE and SuNDE issued a joint statement on the polling process, noting that it was mostly free and fair and met the 60 percent turnout threshold. NDI also supported SuGDE to draft a series of electoral reform recommendations and produce a documentary about its work.
Civic and Voter Education in Sudan
Under its USAID-funded program, NDI worked with local partners in Sudan to get out important civic education messages. During the 2011 Southern Sudan Self-Determination Referendum, NDI and partner Catholic Relief Services (CRS) reached 1.2 million northern and southern Sudanese through voter education efforts. During the April 2010 elections, NDI and partners SuGDE and SuNDE educated over one million citizens on the voting process and their rights. Voter education activities included briefings for community leaders, presentations during busy market days, door-to-door information sharing and listening groups. NDI also worked with partners in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states on the CPA-mandated popular consultations process (which was suspended in Southern Kordofan in May 2011 following election-related violence) and continued to engage citizens on the overall political process.
Focus Group Research in Sudan's Three Areas
Beginning in 2004, NDI conducted qualitative public opinion research in Sudan’s Three Areas to help policymakers, civil society groups and the international community better understand citizens' views and perspectives during the country's dynamic transitional period. To conduct this research, NDI relied upon focus group discussions, allowing chosen participants to compare perspectives, exchange ideas and discuss the political environment to offer a fuller snapshot of public opinion. NDI's research in the Three Areas not only gauged attitudes, but also highlighted citizens' needs and expectations. NDI continues to conduct regular public opinion research in South Sudan. In 2010, the then-vice president of the semi-autonomous southern Sudan and current vice president of South Sudan Riek Machar Teny said the NDI focus group studies "have helped us to revise our policies and highlight issues we need to address as a government." For a full listing of focus group research related to Sudan, please click here.
Let's Talk: Radio Programming for Civic Education
One of the best ways to ensure widespread communication in Sudan is through radio broadcasting. Before closing its program in January 2012, NDI conducted radio-based civic education in Sudan’s Three Areas beginning in 2007 through its Let’s Talk! radio program. Let’s Talk!, a 30 minute program with a drama, an educational section and a call-in discussion segment, introduces listeners to civic topics ranging from voter education to human rights. Let’s Talk! episodes were originally focused on basic concepts outlined in the CPA and evolved over time to address topics such as the 2011 Southern Sudan Referendum.
For more information about these programs, use our contact form or contact:
Rakeb Abate, Senior Program Manager, Southern and East Africa