The Darfur Conflict: Geography or Institutions?

The Darfur Conflict: Geography or Institutions?

The Darfur Conflict: Geography or Institutions?

The Darfur Conflict: Geography or Institutions?

Synopsis

Although it is often simplified as an "ethnic conflict" in popular media, the current crisis in Darfur can only be superficially defined across ethnic lines. Any long-term solution to the conflict must also address the underlying social and environmental influences such as changing resource dynamics, expanding poverty, lack of infrastructure, and political corruption, which have brought the crisis to a head. This project diverges from previous studies by examining how the dynamic interaction between the environment, local governance, and national policy in Sudan has resulted in the Darfur crisis. It demonstrates how ecological degradation and the breakdown of community governance have destabilized the region, and how corruption and incompetence at the national level have culminated in the current crisis. Analyzing the interplay of these factors will yield valuable insights as to how a concerned international community can both end the tragic genocide and address the underlying injustices that engendered it. The analysis presented will be informative and accessible to a wide readership of students, academics, and concerned citizens.

Excerpt

This book is an interdisciplinary endeavor into the political economy of the Darfur conflict. It sets out to build recursively that the Darfur crisis emanated from poor governance (institutions), locally and nationally, and the resulting mismanagement of transition from a traditional society to a modern (market) society (economy) that triggered a series of endogenous interactions of socioeconomic institutional failures and geography. A deliberate attempt was made to stay away from formal modeling and regressions. Instead, simple tabulations and descriptive statistics based on survey data, focus groups, personal interviews, and the experiences of other developing countries. The world of political and institutional economics is saturated with contextual nuances that are ardently difficult to decipher using empirical modeling without using restrictive assumptions and suspect proxies.

This book is about how poor national and local governance in Sudan is the root cause that triggered a series of economic, political, and social institutional failures. In particular, the transition from a traditional society to a modern (market) society (economy) has been abysmally mismanaged. Seemingly, all national governments that took office after the independence of Sudan in 1956 continued along the same path of colonial authorities. Negligence of the peripheral regions of the country while mainly restricting development projects to the central region underlies the rage of resistance groups in peripheries such as Darfur. For the most part, national governments acted to promote their political agenda, rather than correct the mistakes of colonial powers. Specifically, colonial governments concentrated on developing regions that were geographically easy to develop because they mainly colonized the country to exploit its cost-effective resources with minimal infrastructure building and pro-poor services. As such, they developed the center where water and fertile soils were abundant, and the locations had easy access to the sea. Peripheral areas that were remote and relatively expensive to develop were relegated to indirect governance by native administrations whose responsibilities were to collect taxes and send them to the central treasury, and to maintain local security. Johnson (2003) argued that one factor behind Sudan’s recurring wars is Britain’s decision, based on political expediency, to grant independence to the whole of Sudan . . .

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