As it became clear that both parties to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) peace negotiations in Naivasha, Kenya, were reaching consensus and that peace was imminent, attention turned towards assessing Sudan's reconstruction needs. The idea of a donors' conference had already been mooted, but conversations between the Government of Sudan (GoS) and Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) wealth-sharing committee, the World Bank, the UN, IGAD and the IGAD Partners' Forum established that a donors' conference would be more effective if presented with a comprehensive framework for Sudan's development priorities. The notion of a Sudanese Joint Assessment Mission (JAM) was born.
Joint assessment missions had been conducted before in Liberia and Iraq, but Sudan's was to be the most extensive yet. Much more than a technical exercise to raise external aid, it would be an inclusive exercise in strategic planning and economic reconstruction for a war-torn country. Even now it seems remarkable that work on the JAM began while IGAD negotiations on power-sharing were still ongoing. We considered it essential to have enough time to develop a thorough piece of work to which the international community would respond properly. Initially planned as an 11-week process, it ended up running for 15 months. Slower-than-expected progress in the peace talks caused some delay, but the signing of the June 2004 protocols finally paved the way for a joint GoS-SPLM workshop in Nairobi to formulate the JAM's conceptual framework, to which representatives from the World Bank, UN, IGAD and donor countries were invited.
From the start all the parties to these discussions enjoyed good working relationships, and the joint sessions were very positive. Common issues were dealt with objectively, in a less emotionally-charged atmosphere than the peace negotiations. The SPLM members of the drafting committee included Kosti Manibe, Luka Biong, Anne Itto and Lual Deng, all of whom have since continued to show their commitment to making the January 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement work. Further support was provided by the World Bank's Low-Income Countries Under Stress (LICUS) fund, which had already decided – before the JAM was born – to finance initiatives in support of the peace agreement, making funding available to joint projects especially in the areas of civil service reform, media and youth. Unfortunately much of this funding remains unspent, but it was certainly helpful in promoting early cooperation on the JAM.
Working relationships built up during the talks smoothed the formation of a Core Coordinating Group (CCG) for the JAM, which was headed by Norway and comprised representatives from the GoS, the SPLM, the UN and the World Bank. It took the lead in organising the JAM's work into eight clusters (see figure 1) organised around key themes integral to consolidating peace and facilitating broad-based human and economic development. It also led on identifying and commissioning external consultants, who then undertook a number of field visits, working closely with their national counterparts to develop consensus on their findings. The results of these visits formed the basis of the JAM report published in March 2005 following a two-week-long meeting in Addis Ababa.
This report is much more than a request for external financing, but, as titled, A Framework for Sustained Peace, Development and Poverty Eradication. Covering the six-year interim period, it disaggregates programmes for the national government and northern states, the three areas and the southern government. Two thirds of the initial recovery costs are to be met from domestic resources, with US$7.9bn of spending planned for the initial recovery phase (through 2007).
It was presented first to the Sudanese Cabinet and Presidency, where it received strong approval as a plan for the six-year interim period from which no ministry should deviate, then to the donors' conference in Oslo in April 2005, where donors pledged some US$4.5bn to Sudan. Those involved in the JAM also followed up the endorsement of the Presidency and Cabinet with separate meetings with the individual line ministries to ensure that the JAM would provide the core ideas for their own sectoral plans. The report was also backed up by a monitoring matrix, developed with the partners and conceived as a binding obligation between the newly formed Government of National Unity and the international community. It was also agreed that there should be an annual consortium to monitor the process of JAM implementation.
The JAM process, from its conception in Naivasha to its birth in Khartoum and Oslo, demonstrated the importance of inclusiveness at all stages, a shared commitment to reconstruction, a thorough preparatory phase and an understanding of the local context. Unfortunately, practical and time constraints meant there was insufficient consultation at local and state government levels, and the JAM could have been improved had there been more of an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of local needs, the different expectations of rural and urban communities and the root causes of conflict in Sudan. The JAM also avoided the issue of oil except to highlight its usefulness as a means for developing the industrial and agricultural sectors and fuelling economic growth. Nonetheless, the JAM was a statement on the importance of poverty eradication and sustainable development in reducing existing and potential conflict, and was a good learning experience for all involved.