Lessons from the Joint Assessment Mission in Darfur (DJAM)


The May 2006 Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) mandated that a Joint Assessment Mission identify and quantify post-conflict economic recovery, development and poverty eradication needs. The key issues identified were: to restore peace, security and social stability; to establish the physical, institutional and social infrastructure required by Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), refugees and conflict-affected citizens to re-establish their livelihoods; and to strengthen civil administration so it could
perform its basic functions.

The parties to the DPA agreed to adopt a two-track approach to the DJAM and its financing. A first track, led by the UN (Early Recovery or Track I), would focus on the normalisation of life in waraffected communities and lay the foundation for the transition to reconstruction and development. The Early Recovery Programme focuses on the fi rst 18-24 months and proposes initiatives to support peace efforts that set the stage for development. A concurrent second track (Track II), led by the World
Bank, has focused on post-conflict economic recovery, reconstruction and development needs, with the eventual aim of reaching the Millennium Development Goals.

Entry point

The peace agreement and high-level international engagement provided the entry point for the DJAM. The 30-person assessment team included Sudanese and international experts gathered in six main clusters to address three cross-cutting issues. The clusters were: basic social services (healthcare, water and sanitation, education); war-affected communities (food security and livelihoods, basic infrastructure, resource and livestock management); rule of law (police, judiciary, corrections, access to justice, and sexual and gender-based violence); governance and capacity building (policy planning,
civil service); peace and security (land and confl ict, reconciliation) and returns (protection, logistics). The cross-cutting issues focused on gender, the environment and HIV/AIDS.

Due to the deteriorating security situation in Darfur during the two-month field mission, access to certain various groups, IDP camps, and aspects of Darfurian society (particularly those of the non-signatory rebel groups) was limited. Nevertheless, the DJAM team members were able to meet formally and informally with a representative sampling of government, civil society, IDPs, and war-affected villagers, and relied on limited secondary data.

The findings of the Rule of Law cluster were quite sobering. Notwithstanding the signing of the peace agreement, the continued armed conflict has led to repeated violations of human rights and humanitarian law and a significant deterioration in safety and security where women and children in particular are especially vulnerable to physical harm and sexual abuse. The restoration of credible rule of law institutions is crucial to the success of any peace initiative and early recovery programme. Trust between IDP communities and the government of Sudan remains extremely low. Much work needs to be done to bridge this impasse, rebuild a sense of community and trust, and to establish credible and transparent institutions that provide a tradition of service. Official actors or representatives of rule of law institutions are simply overburdened and unable to cope with the demands
placed on them. The traditional and informal dispute mechanisms appear to be politicised, minimising their effectiveness and viability as an alternative to an overwhelmed and under-performing justice system. The police have little or no access to, or working relationships with, IDP communities.

Lessons learned

While the DJAM is at the time of writing a work-in-progress, several initial lessons can be drawn from this experience:

• The challenges of ensuring a nationally owned JAM process. Broad-based consultations and a concerted effort are often needed to build local ownership.
• The need for an overarching strategic framework to guide priorities, set targets and monitor progress.
• The need for a nationally driven JAM process to link with national budgets and local systems — without this, sustainability is difficult