In this piece, Deng Kuol explains the significance of grains for his pastoralist Ngok Dinka community—more commonly associated with cattle—in the borderland region of Abyei. To illustrate this, Deng describes the efforts made by his mother to preserve access to a socially valued variety of sorghum—ruath—by travelling into military occupied areas of Abyei while her family was displaced outside…


In this piece, Luga Aquila explores the history of cassava among the Pojulu in Central Equatoria. He explains how one local cassava variety called yoyoji-yoyoja, which translates as ‘you can now get engaged’, became an important means of bridewealth in the Pojulu community. Later, yoyoji-yoyoja lost some of its social value when a new cassava variety called bokolisha was introduced, which has…


In this piece, Elizabeth Nyibol describes the lifestory of her aunt, Mary Ajok Wetkwuo, who throughout her life has demonstrated a commitment to growing the indigenous grains of her Dinka community—varieties of sorghum and millet—which she carried with her while living much of her life in displacement. The account shows how Mary, like many other Dinka women, deployed the social and material…


In Blue Nile, Sudan, artisanal gold mining has historically been a communal or household activity—an additional means of income generation to supplement agriculture. However, a gold-rush in Sudan which began around a decade ago and intensified after the secession of South Sudan in 2011, has begun to change the relationship that communities in Blue Nile have with gold mining.


Taking the Ethiopia-South Sudan borderlands as a case study, Rethinking Aid in Borderland Spaces argues that the traditional modalities of the aid industry are not fit for purpose in a world where transnationalism is a daily reality for communities, even—perhaps even especially—in the most geographically remote locations. 


In September 2019, Sudan’s recently appointed Minister of Finance, Ibrahim Elbadawi, announced a nine-month economic reform programme. The government is seeking to improve provision of basic commodities, especially fuel and bread, initially using foreign assistance, including World Bank credit, with the aim of starting to fade out governmental subsidies and foreign aid after nine months.


South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, visited Khartoum in late June 2019 where he met with senior political and security figures in the new Sudanese government. The removal of Omar al-Bashir in April 2019, replaced by a Transitional Military Council (TMC), and latterly a 3-year transitional military-civilian government, has resulted in a reworking of relations between the neighbouring states,…


This briefing unpacks the connected political and economic crisis that reached a climax in early 2019 through the contrasting but connected worlds of Sudan’s bread and sorghum eaters. Its conclusion presents the limited options available to the as yet unelected technocratic government.


Beginning in March 2018, the X-Border Local Research Network is a research consortium aimed at developing a better understanding of the causes and implications of conflict in the border areas of north-east Africa, the Middle East and Asia. This project is part of a broader FCDO programme, X (Cross) Border Conflict – Evidence, Policy and Trends (XCEPT).