Regional Disparity In National Development Of Sudan And Its Impact On Nation-Building With Reference To The Region Of The Nuba Mountains

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Kunda Komey, Guma
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The regional dimension of national development within a territory of any country is vital for the integration of economic, social and political forces, and in the overall nation-building process. Regional development studies suggest that once development, for whatever reason, starts at a specific spatial point, certain powerful forces make for a spatial concentration of economic growth around the initial starting point resulting in the emergence of regional disparity in national development. In the absence of effective redistributive policies in national development planning and programming, it is likely that regional disparity will continue to persist; and if left further to the free market forces, it may take too long before this regional disparity trend is reversed toward regional convergence and equalization in development opportunities, or it may not occur at all particularly in a vast and diversified country like Sudan. In light of this reasoning, this study postulates that the Sudanese spatial system represents a classical example of a developing country, characterized by an increasingly striking regional disparity in national development. Originally, the concentration of development and regional disparity was part of an inherited colonial legacy but progressively continued to be re-enforced throughout the postcolonial era by successive national development plans to the extent that it has become multidimensional and complex in nature, systematic in trends and patterns. The study reveals that after more than four decades of an independent Sudan, it is not readily apparent that the spatial patterns of developments which have emerged during and dominate the post-colonial era, are not significantly different from those which emerged during and dominated the colonial era. It evidently demonstrates that successive national governments continued, in practice, the pursuit of a strategy of geographical concentration of development attributes and institutions in the relatively developed regions with the intention of achieving economic efficiency and, therefore, attaining accelerated national economic growth. However, contrary to their successive set objectives, the cumulative consequences of those unbalanced development approaches resulted in successive national development xiv failures followed by a series of adverse repercussions which came to jeopardize not only the attainment of the set national development objectives but also the very process of nation-building. The study demonstrates that the level, pattern and trend of regional distribution of development attributes and institutions in contemporary Sudan are characterized by excessive regional concentration in the central and northern parts of the Sudan that emerged as the core region, associated with remarkable underdevelopment and marginalization features in the remaining regions of the country that emerged as the periphery. The result was the emergence of a sharp and persistent inter-regional disparity in national development which has, in turn, led to the emergence and prevalence of an unequal and exploitative relationship between the core and the periphery instead of being a complementary and generative relationship within the framework of the overall national spatial system. Under this unequal and exploitative relationship, the core acts as the growth pole of the Sudanese society in culture, politics and the economy, draining cheap human and natural resources from the periphery while supplying expensive goods, services, markets and centrally reproduced elites to the periphery, with no progressive spatial integration of social, economic and political variables in the effectively settled territory of the country. As a result, excessive spatial polarization of economic, political and social development, in favor of the core regions, becomes sharper and more glaring throughout postcolonial Sudan. This is manifested in regional inequalities in income, investment allocations, economic development, political power and human development The study argues that the persistent socio-economic dualism, the formation of regionally-based ethno-political movements, the repeated cycles of political instability and the continuation and expansion of the destructive civil war seem to be logical consequences of such uneven development among different regions of the Sudan. The study explains that the prevailing regional disparity in the development of the Sudan is not the result of the fatality of the free market mechanisms, or of technical determinisms. It is true that these elements are concurrently at work, but what counts is that they themselves are directed and controlled by the state through various governments’ intervention mechanisms for the interests of a few elites in the core regions who have consistently failed to transform and integrate Sudan into a viable state that belongs to its entire people irrespective of their regional and ethno-cultural affiliations. The contention of this study is that the widening regional disparity during postcolonial Sudan was not primarily an accident of history of the development process, or of interregional variation in natural endowments. Rather, it is the logical xv results of consciously designed processes of colonial and neocolonial development strategies that continued and continue to inspire the postcolonial governments’ national development modalities, formulated and implemented through an agenda of national institutions controlled jointly by the state of Jellaba and the international neocolonial system and their institutions. Indeed; the colonial-oriented planning system and the state’s institutions of postcolonial Sudan continue to interact with each another to produce and reinforce each other, and to produce and reproduce increased regional disparities in the country that have benefited only a few allied groups of elites, politicians and businessmen throughout the contemporary history of the Sudan. This has been systematically and quantitatively illustrated throughout this study by inter-regional analysis of trends and patterns of a number of economic and human development indicators in the postcolonial Sudan. The postcolonial national development planning which continues to consistently favor the sectoral dimensions at the expense of the spatial dimensions constitutes the essence of the institutionalized national development programs that systematically perpetuate the existing regional disparities, underdevelopment, deprivation and marginalization of the majority of the Sudanese people in their different regions. The study of the peripheral region of the Nuba Mountains as a case study, demonstrates how the process of an increasingly widening interregional disparity in development created political discontents, and therefore, paved the socioeconomic and political scene for a state of anarchy and instability that came to have far-reaching implications, not only on the region and its society but on the nation at large. It substantiates the postulation that the Nuba Mountains region and its people continued to experience different forms of underdevelopment, marginalization, deprivation from and denial of some fundamental rights and needs. This has been the case during the colonial and postcolonial periods alike resulting into increasingly widening regional disparities and inequalities. The analysis reveals that government interventions in forms of improved development approach into the region have not yield any substantial positive change; instead it resulted into destruction of the local traditional socioeconomic system. As a consequence, most of the region’s communities, especially the Nuba remain poor, impoverished and marginalized in their own rich land, and eventually forced to migrate in masses to various cities of the core regions in central and northern Sudan, and engaged as cheap and unskilled labor in some of the extremely low profile and dehumanizing jobs. This, in xvi turn, pushes them into a more marginalized and underdeveloped socioeconomic, ethno-cultural and political status. The repercussions of the increasingly widening disparity in national development are perceived by this study as the main root causes of all other Sudanese crises including the recurrent political instability, economic underdevelopment, and social disintegration. Therefore, the study poses the conclusion that the integration of regional and social equity on the one hand, and national economic efficiency on the other, is a pre-requisite for achieving sustainable national economic growth and for minimizing regional disparity and, therefore, stimulating a process of de-marginalization and balanced national development. Political, economic and socio-cultural democratization and decentralization of power, wealth and decision-making are critical to the process of de-marginalization; because democratization addresses the grievances related to identity, enhances political participation, and promotes equality in socioeconomic opportunities, thus setting off the internal wheels of de-marginalization and development in the marginalized, underdeveloped and peripheral regions of the Sudan. Finally; the conviction of this study is that as public awareness on economic, socio-cultural, and political rights continues to gain momentum throughout the peripheral regions of the Sudan, and as the centrifugal forces (backwash/polarization effects) continue to predominate over the centripetal forces (spread/trickle down effects), such a state is not likely to last for long particularly when we recall that the current Sudanese state seems to be in danger of collapsing and disintegration. Unless the centripetal forces - which move towards unifying and consolidating the state – predominate over the centrifugal forces, such a soft state is likely to move towards the state of a statelessness state. The recent concluded comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Government of the Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in Nairobi, Kenya on 9th of January 2005, is seen as the first and, perhaps, the last genuine opportunity for political, economic and socio-cultural development that may pave the way for a new democratic, just and peaceful united Sudan.
304 Pages
South Kordofan;Nuba Mountains; Dentists;economic;framework;widening;Sudan