Youth Volunteers Supporting Peace and Recovery in Darfur (YoVoReD) 

Phase I, II & III

Since 2012, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Sudan has been spearheading an innovative Youth empowerment project - The Youth Volunteers Supporting Peace and Recovery in Darfur (YoVoReD) which is now in its fourth phase. The YoVoReD aims to strengthen capacities of conflict-affected youth in Darfur to access livelihood and developmental opportunities whilst empowering their own communities and playing active and leading roles in peace and recovery processes in the region. 

In partnership with the State Governments, Civil Society Organizations and Universities in Darfur, the Project established a Youth-led volunteer scheme in response to the priorities of the Government of Sudan's 25-year Youth Strategy (2002 - 2027) ''To establish a National Volunteers Scheme for Private Sector Development'' and based on the challenges facing the youth in the post-conflict environment.

Youth (15-24 years) constitute about 19.7% of the Darfur population and youth unemployment across the five Darfur states is estimated to exceed 40%.

Due to the protracted conflict in Darfur, a whole generation of these youth has suffered limited access to education, secure livelihood and other development opportunities.

While in particular young people have great potential to help build peaceful and prosperous communities, the pressure to make a living can become a destabilizing factor, fueling violence and criminality and heightening their propensity to join criminal and violent extremist groups.

For the most disadvantaged group - illiterate youth in peri-urban and rural communities, agriculture and small-scale business activities can provide suitable income-generating opportunities. However, communities are still bearing the brunt of the longstanding conflict including sporadic insecurity from inter-communal and tribal clashes,  lack access to infrastructure, productive assets, skills, finance and markets.

UNDP Sudan's Youth Volunteers Supporting Peace and Recovery in Darfur Project (YoVoReD ) aims to tackle these challenges by harnessing and utilizing the talents and capacities of the youth and empowering them to achieve their full potentials.

Darfur Livelihoods and Recovery Programme (DLRP)

(Photo: UNDP Sudan)

The YoVoReD is one of the components of Darfur Livelihoods and Recovery Programme (DLRP) which is UNDP's flagship programme on Early Recovery in Darfur. DLRP aim at strengthening local capacities to accelerate stabilization of  Darfur whilst supporting the resilience and self-reliance of IDPs, returnees and conflict-affected host communities to manage the impact of conflict and climate change by bridging the nexus between humanitarian aid and long-term recovery and development. 

The programme integrates market-based and value chain solutions with skill and competency development, social cohesion and natural resource management.

    Project Approach    

Step 1 - 
Youth Volunteer Training 

(Photo: UNDP Sudan)

With the help of local Universities (in Phase I & II), Government Ministries
(Phase III) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Darfur, the Project trains young unemployed Darfuri graduates in natural resource management, green business, entrepreneurship, micro-finance and general subjects such as volunteerism, gender studies, facilitation skills, conflict resolution and community mobilization as part of preparation for pre-deployment preparation to work as community development workers in their own communities within the five Darfur states.

"I found this (youth volunteer) opportunity extremely valuable and beneficial because my community needs support, and as a youth, I want to make a commitment for the future of Darfur. 

I will do my best to deliver what I learned from this training to the community members."

Ms. Suaad Adam Wadi,
Phase III Youth volunteer, East Darfur
 Youth volunteers from East Darfur (Photo: UNDP Sudan)

Project Approach 

Step 2- 
 Community Recovery & Deployment Activities

(Photo: UNDP Sudan)

After the training, the youth are deployed as Youth volunteers to their own communities in rural areas where they live for nine months, sharing the skills and knowledge they acquired with their fellow community members through a series of training activities based on standardized training modules. 

Moreover, they help community members initiate saving group/association schemes and develop business proposals to access small grants that enable them to establish, expand or diversify micro-enterprises.

In order to strengthen community development and peacebuilding, the Youth volunteers work with the communities to identify priorities and implement a number of community recovery projects. They also form youth clubs and organize peace-building activities through drama, sports and community dialogue forums.

During their deployment, the Youth Volunteers also receive mentoring and career building support including entrepreneurship, business incubation and career advisory support from the UN, NGOs and the Private sector.

 Achievements 1: 
Community Livelihoods 

Training for community members in North Darfur (Photo: UNDP Sudan)

The Project enabled an unprecedented outreach across Darfur. The region has been affected by armed conflict for more than 10 years  which has destroyed lives, assets and livelihoods. Though active combat has ceases, lingering insecurity and limited infrastructure has rendered access to conflict-affected communities and populations a continued issue for international organizations.

Through Phase first three phases of the Project, a total of  379 Youth were deployed as Youth volunteers in the five Darfur states in Sudan.  Of these, 40% of the deployed Youth volunteers are female.

The 379 volunteers supported 35,862 vulnerable community members by improving their knowledge and skills in business management, economic development and environmental management (Phase I: 14,839, Phase II: 11,726, Phase III: 9,297). Of these, 54% of the community members are female.

The Youth volunteers also trained community members to develop their business plans, business proposals, and assisted them to participate in the small grant challenges organized by the Project. They continually provided technical and mentoring support to groups, associations and individual community entrepreneurs in the implementation of income generating activities in their communities.

As a result, 448 micro-enterprises have been established and being expanded in the communities in an environmentally sustainable way.

In addition, through a Community Development Challenges in the 30 target communities in the five Darfur states, the Project selected the best 11 community development projects and provided grants to implement the projects such as rehabilitation of a health centers, construction of schools and markets. 

Youth volunteers led the process by working with communities to identify and prioritize community needs and initiating the project proposals with the full participation of the hosting communities.

   Achievements 2:  

 (Photo: UNAMID)

On the occasion of International Day of Peace 2017State and Regional Launch of UN Security Council Resolution 2250 (UNSCR 2250) on youth, peace and security were conducted in all five Darfur states. 

The workshops were organized in collaboration with the State Ministry of Youth and Sports, UN (UNAMID, UNFPA and UNICEF) and national NGOs.  More than 220 youth and Government representatives participated in the workshop. 

The workshops introduced the UNSCR 2250 to the participants and each state identified the most pressing issues concerning youth and peace in their states as well as Darfur region. At the regional launch, the participants selected "Youth unemployment" as the most pressing issue threatening the future of the youth and the overall peace and security in the Darfur region. 

As a result of the workshops, the participants agreed on the strategies and common actions towards addressing the issue of youth unemployment.

The State Ministry of Youth and Sports in South Darfur has already incorporated the outcomes of the workshop into the state work plan for 2017-2019.

In order to promote inter-communal peace, social cohesion and reconciliation, the Project provided a Training of Trainers on Conflict Management and Negotiation Skills to 84 local youth and 90 Youth volunteers (43% female).

The trained local youth and the Youth volunteers subsequently formed 30 Youth, Peace and Environmental Clubs in 30 communities across five Darfur states and organized peace forums and other events in their communities.

As a result, through a terminal perception survey, community members indicated that social cohesion in their communities has improved from 35.7% to 93% attributable to the project interventions; measured by ex-ante and ex-post perception of respondents.

Achievements 3:   
Youth employment and entrepreneurship

Start and Manage Your Own Business (SMYOB) workshop in North Darfur (Photo: UNDP Sudan)

In partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Project launched the "Start and Manage Your Own Business (SMYOB)" challenge which is a business incubation initiative launched in all the five Darfur states. The competition was open to all youth in Darfur who were invited to submit business proposals for funding through an adapted business model canvas.

The business challenge consisted of two stages, conducted separately in each of the five Darfur state. Out of 3,392 applications received in the first stage, 150 individual and group projects involving 190 youth were pre-selected.  The proposals were assessed  based on established criteria including level of innovation, quality of market analysis, environmental friendliness, scalability, feasibility, budget as well as its contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Through the SMYOB challenge, 3,392 young people in Darfur had an opportunity to learn more about the SDGs through the ideation and challenge workshops.

In the second stage, the 150 best selected projects presented their business propositions with an emphasis on business feasibility, economic viability, innovation and contributions to the SDGs. 

Presentations were adjudged  by a panel of business experts drawn from UNDP, the Sate Ministries, NGOs and the banking sector who also provided technical advice to the youth. The finalists were awarded prizes in the form of business incubation grants to start small businesses. The value of the prizes depended on the rank of the projects.

Since I won the SMYOB challenge, my dream has become reality. Now my sisters are working with me and my entire family has benefited from my business.
I am happy that I can contribute to my family and make their life better.

Ms. Monira Tibin Abdall,
SMYOB winner established a Bridal and wedding shop
Ms. Monira Tibin Abdall, SMYOB winner shows her business product in North Darfur (Photo: UNDP Sudan)

At the end of each phase, the Project organized graduation ceremonies for the Youth volunteers and awarded certificates for the completion of their 9-month community work.

Career fairs were also organized to reinforce the sustainability of the initiative and to facilitate the access of Youth volunteers to the job market in Sudan.

As of April 2018, 204 youth volunteers (39 % female) out of 379 were either employed full time by the State Ministries, UN agencies, and NGOs/INGOs in Darfur, or started their own businesses, benefiting from the Project's small grant scheme and SMYOB challenge. Monitoring and mentoring of the Youth continues.

Youth and Volunteerism

YoVoReD project booth at a Youth Day festival (Photo: UNDP Sudan)

The Project emphasizes the engagement and participation of the Youth and and the importance of Volunteerism for peace, recovery and development in Darfur.

On the International Youth Days in 2015, 2016 and 2017, a series of events were organized in Darfur states in collaboration with the UN Volunteer (UNV) programme Office in Sudan as well as the YoVoReD project partners including the government authorities and UN entities. In 2015 and 2016, the events included radio panel discussions , a community festival, environmental campaigns and workshops on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Poverty and Peace building.

In 2017, the event introduced the UNDP Sudan official promotion film on the prevention of violence extremism, "IMAN ", in addition to the workshops on the role of youth in peace building and development.

In addition tree-planting events were conducted in North, South and East Darfur states. About 3,000 participants promoted a healthy environment and contributed to prevent desertification in Darfur.

On the International Volunteers Day in 2013, 2015 and 2016, in cooperation with the United Nations–African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), UNV and partner NGOs, the Project organized a total of seven clean-up exercises, which involved approximately 1,500 participants from the communities in Darfur. 

These actions and commitments brought together youth from different social groups and backgrounds which successfully promoted the role of youth and volunteerism for the pursuit of peace in Darfur.

Next phase 

 Youth Volunteers Supporting Peace and Recovery in Darfur  
Phase IV

Youth volunteers planing trees in an IDP camp in North Darfur (Photo: UNAMID)

The YoVoReD was made possible thanks to the generous financial and technical contributions from different sources:

1). Phase I & II was supported by the Republic of Korea, UNV and UNDP.  

2). Phase III was made possible thanks to contributions from the government of Japan and UNDP

3). Phase IV (on-going) is being supported by the Republic of Korea. 
This current phase started early 2018; targeting 200 Youth volunteers and 1,000 beneficiaries in 50 communities in the five Darfur states

For more information, find more YoVoReD volunteers' stories from:

UNDP Youth Volunteers Rebuilding Darfur Project  Phase I & II

UNDP Sudan website


Contact: John Anodam, Programme Manager UNDP Darfur Livelihoods and Recovery Programme, UNDP Sudan

Edited by Hiromi Amano, Youth and Livelihoods officer, and
Chihiro Bise, Youth Volunteer Coordinator,
UNDP Darfur Livelihoods and Recovery Programme, UNDP Sudan