Abyei Infrastructure and Services
The Abyei “box”, as the contested area between Sudan and South Sudan is often referred to, is situated within the Muglad Basin and covers 4000 sq miles of desert and farmland. Abyei has witnessed prolonged insecurity and lacks a mutually recognized structure of governance. Due to this complexity, the area has missed out on development infrastructure, and key service provision is extremely limited or non-existant.
Our focus in Abyei was reaching Amiet joint common market, as a potential location for experimentation of the sanduk digitalization idea. Amiet market is a major transit point and has become an economic hub for traders across the two countries including foreign nationals from Ethiopia, Uganda, and Eritrea, making the market a nerve centre of Abyei. Being one of the few places locally in which the two communities can interact and trade, it is considered an emblem of social cohesion and hope, with untapped opportunities and great resilience.
With thanks to the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) (Food and Agriculture Organization) and International Organization for Immigration (IOM) in Abyei, our team was able to access the market and source a key cross-section of interviewees. The operation of the joint market, on one hand, provides an opportunity for trade and free movement of persons within, but can also generate additional challenges if not managed. However, they have forged a way to not only peacefully co-exist but structured themselves to manage their own social affairs by forming small focal committees for health, youth (who are part of community watch), women, and more. The community cooperates with these committees. The committee for health, for example, charges traders for waste management based on the size of waste generated from their businesses.