Conflict Analysis Tools and Methods Capacity Building
Workshop – Khartoum, Sudan
August 16–21, 2014
Two S-CAR faculty members, Daniel Rothbart and Sudha Rajput, traveled to Khartoum, Sudan to facilitate a one-day symposium and five-day workshop entitled “Conflict Analysis Tools and Methods Capacity Building.” Supported by USAID and the international organization, AECOM, the symposium and workshop were hosted by the Centre for Peace and Development at the University of Bahri, Khartoum and took place at the Grand Holiday Villa, near the banks of the Nile River. These events represent the first academic gathering among faculty from Sudan and South Sudan following the independence of South Sudan in 2011.
The 30 workshop participants came from Khartoum, Omdurman, Darfur, Upper Nile, Al-Fashir, Haifa (Sudan), Juba, and Bahr al Jabal (South Sudan). The participants reflected multi-dimensional diversity of gender, age, and nationality (Sudanese and South Sudanese), with some representing the United Nations Africa Mission in Darfur, IFAD, or other international agencies. Participants also represented varied academic backgrounds—Doctorates, Masters, and PhD candidates—and research interests, including the livelihood issues of marginalized communities, internally displaced persons (IDP)/refugee issues, modernization and indigenous populations, women and conflict, ethnic-based conflicts, human rights, and development.
The Symposium opened with recitations from the Holy Quran, followed by opening remarks by officials from USAID and the University of Bahri. Dr. Rothbart delivered the keynote address, entitled “Conflict Analysis: A Field in Flux.” Dr. Rajput then led a session apprising the audience of the objectives, expectations, and plan for the workshop.
During the five days that followed, Dr. Rothbart and Dr. Rajput addressed the following topics on conflict analysis: conflict theories, research design, data gathering, data analysis, research-driven programs, and dissemination of findings. Each day’s activities included a challenging exercise designed to enhance the participants’ skills in applying the conceptual information to research. Group discussions and reporting were lively and insightful as the participants applied the lessons to local situations and balanced conceptual information with concrete case studies. For example, Dr. Rothbart and Dr. Rajput’s presentation of research-driven programs included humanitarian relief programs, development through policy reforms, societal reforms, and IDP/refugee programs. Material on “Evaluating Conflict Resolution Intervention” was well received by the participants. The workshop exposed participants to conflict-related topics that called for integration of theory, research, and practice.
The workshop’s final day focused on publishing and networking in the field of conflict analysis. Local professors from the two universities shared stories about the opportunities and challenges associated with publication and presentation of findings. Dr. Rajput shared her blog on IDP issues and offered it as a platform for the participants to brainstorm and discuss issues related to IDPs/refugees.
The participants’ grasp of the material was impressive. Their summaries of group discussions and observations about the conflicts in Sudan/South Sudan showed a commitment to conflict research in the pursuit of their individual topics. The workshop concluded with a graduation ceremony in which each participant was awarded a certificate for successfully completing the workshop. This workshop paved the way for upcoming field research in various parts of the two countries. Dr. Rothbart and Dr. Rajput’s work will continue for another two months, as they supervise the research and reporting of the participants.
Throughout the week’s events, the need for flexibility became quite apparent. Despite having developed a meticulous design for the workshop activities, Dr. Rothbart and Dr. Rajput were asked to modify their plans each day, sometimes requiring them to add information in expanded sessions and other times calling for a reduction of the content to quicken the pace. Yet, this all went very well, in large measure because of the easy collaboration with the workshop’s architects from the University of Bahri.
During the week, the head of the USAID mission in Sudan hosted a social gathering at his home, attended by the US ambassador to Sudan. Additionally, the Vice Chancellor of the Bahri University graciously invited Dr. Rothbart and Dr. Rajput to his office for tea and a delightful dinner at a Sudanese restaurant situated on the Omdurman-side of the Nile River. Dr. Rajput’s highlight of the visit was a trip to the Pyramids, a trip that required both a 2.5 hour drive and a special permit from the Ministry of Tourism. These pyramids are located in the villages called Bagrawiyah, and in June 2011, this site was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. A short camel ride took Dr. Rajput close to the pyramids. On the way back, the participants took her to a Sufi festival that was held on mosque premises. This day was an incredible way to experience the Sudanese local culture.