Sudan’s funding requirements for the coming year were outlined in "The United Nations and Partners: 2006 Work Plan for Sudan", which was due to be launched in Geneva on Friday. The report estimated the total costs of humanitarian assistance at $1.5 billion, with an additional $210 million for recovery programmes.
While acknowledging that progress had been made in 2005, the plan maintained that Sudan’s humanitarian needs for 2006 were "immense".
"The ongoing conflict in Darfur and its associated protection challenges, the risk of a poor harvest in parts of [the southern Sudanese States of] Bahr el Ghazal and Upper Nile, the return of hundreds of thousands of displaced Sudanese and other humanitarian needs, make relief central to alleviating the suffering of the Sudanese people," the report noted.
According to the 2006 plan, humanitarian agencies would provide relief assistance to 5.52 million people, including 2.5 million in Darfur. They would also assist a projected 680,000 returnees related to the north-south conflict and ensure continued relief for other areas emerging from the civil war.
David Gressly, the UN deputy resident and humanitarian coordinator for southern Sudan, said food aid would remain the main component of humanitarian assistance in the south, while significant programmes were also foreseen in road development, health, water and education.
"My primary concern is that humanitarian assistance will not drop off as a result of the perception that with the newly signed peace agreement emergency assistance has become redundant," Gressly said.
He explained that almost all service delivery in south Sudan was funded by humanitarian assistance, rather than through development assistance or programmes of the government of southern Sudan.
"A drop in humanitarian assistance [in southern Sudan] would result in a drop in service delivery and hence a negative peace dividend," Gressly warned.
Humanitarian assistance alone, however, would not secure the developmental progress upon which a sustainable peace in Sudan would be built, the report observed. Starting the long-term development processes would be central to the country's future.
In 2005, the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the formation of the governments of National Unity and southern Sudan, and the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1590 - providing the mandate for the UN Mission in Sudan - had fundamentally changed the nature of the strategies and programmes required to support Sudan's nascent peace.
The establishment of new governance institutions and basic infrastructure and services, as well as the provision of technical support and capacity building, were among the key challenges, the report noted.
"The key will be for the government of southern Sudan to establish itself in Juba and at the state levels and to move from a rebel movement to a political organisation," Gressly said.
"Success in the area of reconciliation with other southern parties, in particular other armed groups, will determine our ability to move from humanitarian assistance to development," he added.
In order to respond to Sudan's diverse geographic needs, the 2006 Work Plan used both regional and sectoral approaches. An extensive consultation process involving government, donors and the NGO community was undertaken in each region to develop appropriate strategies.
The emphasis for the conflict-torn western Sudanese region of Darfur would remain almost exclusively humanitarian, however, as the ongoing conflict left little room for development assistance. Almost $650 million had been earmarked for Darfur, with food aid the primary area of assistance.
To improve donor coordination, a common humanitarian fund is envisaged that would place resources at the disposal of the humanitarian coordinator to address key gaps in coverage as they emerge. Two World Bank-administered multidonor trust funds, one national and another for the south, will provide substantial funding to drive Sudan's recovery and development activities.
"The challenges are daunting, but the consequences of failure are unacceptable," the work plan noted. "In combination, political will, the programming outlined in this document and sufficient resources to support it will move Sudan towards a sustainable peace in 2006."