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ERW Clearance, economy, political economy, investment, cost-benefit, socioeconomic status
Sudan is an extremely difficult place to run a demining program. Mine clearance agencies face astronomical prices of goods and services, monumental logistical challenges, bureaucratic impediments from government, fraught labor disputes and a deeply embedded political economy of conflict. This multitude of problems has made Sudan one of the most unproductive demining programs, in terms of ordnance or area cleared per US dollar, in the world. This begs the question whether the level of international investment in Sudanese mine action is truly worth it. This paper will argue that in terms of saving lives or increasing access to socio-economic development, much of the money pouring into Sudanese mine action might be better spent in other severely mine-impacted countries. However, other considerations make such a cost-benefit calculation more complicated. There may be a genuine argument for pouring funding into Sudan for the political reasons of supporting the peace between the North and South. The political, economic and social dividends from demining (including increased freedom of movement, return of displaced people and a reduction in perceptions of insecurity) may justify some of the high financial and other costs. That said, donors should not deceive themselves about the limits to mine action's ability play the role of a midwife of peace.