Rebuilding Sudanese Hopes for Peace


Ted Miyake
Homes for Sudan volunteers at a building workshop in Khartoum in December 2007

In the Sudan, decades of war and unrest, intensified by the most recent conflict in Darfur, have created the world’s largest population of internally displaced persons (IDPs). Homes for Sudan, a new non-profit based in Boston, has a plan to help Sudanese refugees rebuild their villages. Working with local Sudanese universities and NGOs, Homes for Sudan is teaching IDPs the necessary skills to rebuild their communities using the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture’s ‘superadobe’ building method that stacks long, snake-like sandbags to form simple domed structures. This building method is inexpensive, simple, and reliant on locally abundant materials. And while traditional grass houses are quick to go up in smoke, dwellings made with ‘superadobe’ are fireproof. Passive heating and cooling make the interiors about thirty degrees cooler than desert temperatures outside.

Until only recently, the aid priority in Darfur did not extend to post-war rebuilding. Marie Besançon, CEO and Founder of Homes For Sudan argues that aid agencies need to take a longer term approach, “Unless the people on the ground see visible improvement to their lives and a situation that is better than they had before in their villages, the peace treaties mean nothing to them.” For peace to really take root, Homes For Sudan believes that people need to move out of transient camps and into villages that feel secure and lasting.