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  • Water is life for villagers in Darfur

    March 20th, 2018


    A simple solution like a solar powered water pump can have a profound impact on a community. This is eloquently demonstrated in these first-hand accounts from residents of two villages in drought-prone North Darfur.

    These stories were collected and written by Hamid Bakheet. 

    “We were at the margin of survival. Most of the villagers have moved elsewhere to find water. It’s really hard to leave your homeland but the even harder to survive without water.

    We used to travel for about three hours on our donkeys to seek water for our families. You can imagine what that means. Going for water every other day meant you could only work fifteen days a month reducing our income.  The amount of water we could transport was not great.  At best we had enough to shower three times a week but usually only once a week.

    Now through this work with Practical Action everything has changed.  Our solar water pump has which has changed our life dramatically.  Now it is the easiest thing to get water, even the children can go alone to bring water for their families.”

    Believe it or not when I saw water coming out from the pump for the first time I felt something like a cloud covering my eyes.  It was tears of happiness, although is shaming for a Darfurian man to show tears!”

    Altayeb from Kweim village, north Darfur

    Hawaa from Mugabil village also expresses her joy at the new facility

    “In the past when there was no water in our village, pastoralists and farmers often came to blows. Now it’s very rare to hear that a conflict has happened. We women were usually exhausted because we had to go for about four kilometers to bring a small amount of water for all our needs, drinking, cooking, washing and showering.

    When we had a guest and there was no water, we used to borrow water from our neighbours!  And it was not good for our donkeys to carry water all that distance. A donkey might be expected to live for twenty years but the lives of our donkeys were reduced to only about five years.

    We also faced the risk of gender based violence on those long water gathering trips, but now with water become available here we are safe.  And the time we were spending in going for water we now use for other domestic, economic and personal activities. 

    We even become more beautiful because we can wash and shower every day,” laughed Hawaa!

    This project was designed by Practical Action and financed by the Swedish Postcode Foundation to provide water for both settled and pastoralist communities in the villages of Mugabil and Kweim in north Darfur. It benefits more than 8,000 individuals who live in the areas surrounding Mugabil and Kweim as well as 2,000 pastoralists.

    The most obvious impacts of this project are an increase in water access and quality in the area. Now clean water for drinking and cooking is available for the whole community and for pastoralists and their livestock.  This will have a significant benefit to the health of the community.  The community water management committee is taking responsibility for managing the water supply to ensure its sustainability.  And the pump is operated by clean, renewable solar power so is helping keep both people and the environment safe.

    Seeing how happy these villagers are about the positive change in their life with water makes me proud to work for the organisation that made this possible.



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  • A Darfurian Woman Pressing for Progress  

    , | March 7th, 2018

    Kabkabyia is a small town in the Northern part of North Darfur state. It is one of the places where Practical Action Sudan is implementing development projects in post-conflict context. The area is badly affected by the protracted conflict and women in particular face the worst part of this reality when they find themselves heading their families and handling both productive and social roles.

    HaleemaHaleema, a 55 years old widow from Kabkabyia is one of those women challenging poverty, conflict, illiteracy and gender discrimination, and leading vital role in their communities. Wearing a white Sudanese traditional toub, with big smile and bright eyes, Haleema spoke to me about her interesting personal and professional journey.

    Haleema got married at 20 after she finished high school.  She joined the National Educational Institute and graduated as English and rural development teacher in 1985. She started her career as a school teacher and a young mother too in 1986.

    Haleema’s ambition was beyond a 4 hours teaching job in a primary school; she dreamed to do something different to her community and to contribute to the development of her small town. Therefore, Haleema fearlessly shifted her career to the development sector through working with OXFAM. Then, she moved between different development agencies included Small-Scale Farmers Association and Women Charity. She worked in different projects and manged funds from some important donors in the area what equipped her with great knowledge and experiences.

    Later, Haleema joined Kabkabyia Women Development Association; a women civil structure established by a group of female teachers in 1988 with the aim of rural development and women empowerment in the area.

    The association – which is now headed by Haleema – has become one of the most important civil society organizations in the area those play great role in changing women socio-economic situations in Darfur.

    The association is an important development partner for Practical Action in all its projects in Kabkabyia including Peace and Stability, and Sudan Humanitarian Funds. About this partnership, Haleema said; “I knew Practical Action long time ago when it introduced the donkey-driven plough in our town, that intermediate technology helped women preparing the land for cultivation with less efforts in shorter time,  and most importantly opened our mind to the significance of having innovative solutions for our livelihood issues”.

    haleema presentingDescribing how Practical Action encouraged the inclusion of women and their representation in community management structures (e.g. peace-building committees), she proudly said,

    “Our voices have finally been heard” adding,  “Practical Action supported our Women Development Association and we started building the capacity of rural women in agro-processing and other income generating activities, women are currently leading food-business in the town!”.

    Haleema is model for a successful working woman in rural Darfur, however, she is still challenging the social barriers standing from gender-undermining traditions and culture. She described her personal daily challenges as a working mother for 7 kids; ‘’ I suffer from the load of daily domestic work and I have No time for rest”. She added “our community hasn’t understood the importance of women’s work yet”.

    Haleema believes that women are key for communities’ development, she trusts that things will continue changing to the favour of women if we keep our hard work and press for progress in gender parity.

    In this International Women Day, I want to express my respect and appreciation to women like Haleema, who are challenging the darkness associated with conflict and poverty, they sparkle the light and keep fighting for the coming generation. I believe this world will be a better place with their spirit and braveness. “Thanks Haleema Elnour, a woman from Kabkabyia”

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  • Improving food security in Talkok

    February 16th, 2018

    Telkok is one of the most poverty stricken localities in the state of Kassala and needs a great deal of effort to build up the food security and resilience of its communities.

    clearing mesquite TalkokPractical Action and three local partners are leading a range of interventions in the area. These include limiting the spread of Mesquite trees which invade agricultural areas.

    One partner, the Elgandual network, is working to improve agricultural production and helpfarmers’ increase their income.  They held a practical demonstration on techniques for mesquite clearance, combined with skills development on mesquite charcoal production as a means of generating income. This was attended by 87 beneficiaries from four villages (Tahjer kumailab, Haladiat east, Drasta and Jabal Haboba);

    Hamed Ahmed Tahjer said:

    “The area of mesquite was increasing in the agricultural lands and we use it for firewood in the charcoal industry, to increase the income”.  

    Training in TalkokAnother partner, Sudan Vision, is working to improve access to water for agriculture and livestock. They have rehabilitated two hafirs, (reservoirs) which provide water for approximately 20,000 animals.

    The third partner, the Kassala Women’s Development Network, conducted 12 public sessions on healthy diets, targeting 800 women and 150 men in 6 communities (Drassta, Haladiat East, Twaite, Baryia, Tamay, and Jabel Haboba).  The aim was to challenge traditional diets which adversely affect women and children The sessions raised awareness about healthy nutrition in term of food diversity and food processing using video, direct dialogue, and practical training on food processing for nutrition.

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  • Spreading the message on animal health

    November 28th, 2017

    The overall objective of the LESP-ES animal health project is to contribute to poverty reduction and to eradicate food insecurity in Sudan by improving the livelihoods and resilience of rural smallholders in Kassala, Gedarif and Red Sea states through enhancing livestock productivity.

    The purpose of the project is to ensure that appropriate animal disease surveillance and control is operational in these three states of Eastern Sudan. This will be achieved through improved effectiveness of epidemio–surveillance and control of trans-boundary animal diseases.

    Improvements in veterinary services aim to achieve the following:

    1. Strengthen capacities for epidemio-surveillance and control of cross-boundary animal diseases.
    2. Improve the diagnostic capacities of veterinary laboratories and quarantine facilities
    3. Build awareness and competency of stakeholders to improve animal health and to enhance resilience against epidemics and other animal health related environmental hazards.

    To achieve the third objective it is important to increase the awareness and skills of smallholders and community-based organizations on subjects related to animal health.  This will be achieved through  different activities such as disseminating  leaflets and posters to smallholders, agro-pastoralist communities and community-based organizations including women about relevant diseases.  In addition television and radio show will introduce live dramas, using music and comedy to attract the attention of targeted groups.

    Those different types of communication, using targeted messages to raise awareness of animal diseases were formulated in a simple, attractive way to ensure acceptance and deliver an easy way for people to understand complex scientific materials. Colourful posters and leaflets with plenty of pictures, were distributed during field campaigns, extension meetings, vaccination and treatment missions.

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  • Our hands, our future

    November 24th, 2017

    Since 2008, Global Handwashing Day has been celebrated annually, worldwide on 15 October.  It presents an opportunity to campaign, motivate and mobilize people around the world to improve their handwashing habits by raising awareness about the benefits of handwashing with soap.

    This year Practical Action’s UKAid funded Aqua4East project, in collaboration with Kassala Women Association Network, (KWDAN) celebrated the day with the local community of Darasta, a village with a population of 7850 which lies 30 km north of Kassala. The theme was ‘Our health is in our hands.’

    Both Practical Action and KWDAN are active in the area, upgrading the water infrastructure, conducting sanitation activities with school clubs, and health promoters.  We are currently constructing two public latrines, and training local people in low tech block making. These activities aim at improving hygiene and changing behaviour.

    The Darasta community gathered at the local school for a full day program of speeches, music and drama.  KWDAN distributed hand washing equipment, soap bars, t-shirts, and posters. Certificates of appreciation were also awarded to a number of key community members and to organizations working with the community.

    Practical Action’s Water for East project manager Mr Musa Ibrahim said:

    Global Handwashing Day is an annual advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of hand washing with soap as an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives”

    KWDAN Director Ms Hanan Zayed said:

    “In our state few use soap to wash their hands because soap and water for handwashing might be less accessible; we need to wash our hands with soap and water to dramatically cut the number of young children who get sick. Hand washing with soap could prevent about 1 out of every 10 episodes of diarrhoeal illnesses and almost 1 out of 6 episodes of respiratory infection, this can be simple and inexpensive.”

    The event was recorded and broadcast on Kassala State television.

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  • Veterinary checkpoints in Kassala

    November 14th, 2017

    The three states of eastern Sudan, Kassala, Gadarif and Red Sea, are among the poorest in Sudan.  Chronic poverty and food insecurity is widespread. More than two thirds of the region’s population live in rural areas and more than a third of poor households in these states keep livestock.

    Despite raising an estimated 15.2 million beasts in 2012, representing approximately 17% of Sudan’s livestock, the livestock sector remains severely under-developed. Once of the main problems facing this sector in Sudan, and Eastern Sudan in particular, is the high prevalence of animal diseases, including trans-boundary diseases. These have the potential to seriously affect the health, productivity and trade of livestock and therefore constitute a real threat to rural and pastoral livelihoods.

    State veterinary authorities lack the resources and capacity to detect, monitor and control trans-boundary animal diseases. This is compounded by the weakness of veterinary services and poor infrastructure facilities across the region. Nevertheless, there is considerable potential to increase the level of protection from animal disease by strengthening institutional capacities for epidemio-surveillance and coordination of trans-boundary animal disease control at the state level.

    The European Commission has allocated EUR 3,500,000 under a “Special Fund” for Sudan to address the needs of the most vulnerable populations in Sudan, to support the livestock sector.  It aims to enhance livestock disease control to improve production and trade in East Sudan.

    The Livestock Epidemio-surveillance project – East Sudan (LESP-ES) is being implemented in collaboration between Practical Action Sudan, the Federal Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries & Rangelands and the state ministries of Animal Resources in Sudan’s eastern states (Red Sea, Kassala and Gadarif).

    Kassala state is one of the three beneficiary states of LESP-ES. The state has a rich variety of animal species.

    One of the activities is the establishment of veterinary check points for monitoring animal disease. The check points monitor animal movements to conrol the spread of epidemic diseases (either across boundaries or national states) through professionally recognized activities.

    There are also additional tasks assigned to veterinary check points, namely vaccination services, treatment, awareness raising and disease surveys benefiting the pastoralists, small breeders, farmers, and cattle traders in Kassala State.

    In cooperation with the state General Directorate of Animal Resources, Practical Action Sudan has established five veterinary check points in the form of caravans, distributed in logical geographical locations to provide veterinary services.

    The caravan contains an office and a bedroom for the workers. It was also provided with a motorbike as a means of transport for the technician working at the site under the supervision of a veterinarian. Every check point receives regular visits by veterinarian with a mobile veterinary unit to connect the five points with the state headquarters. Caravan and mobile units are well equipped with all their needs for camps, field work and field diagnostics.

    These points were a real addition to disease surveillance efforts and the geographical expansion of veterinary services to the target beneficiaries.

    Khalil Zayed Ibrahim – deputy General Manager Animal Wealth said:  “Check points also contributed positively in drawing a preliminary picture of the animal disease map in the state through sharing in surveys which followed by data analysis to gain fruitful information that leading to better disease control plans.”

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  • New animal vaccination and inspection facilities in Kassala

    November 14th, 2017

    The administration of quarantine and meat inspection in Sudan lies with the Federal Ministry of Animal Resources. Because of the density and diversity of animal wealth in the eastern sector of Sudan (including Kassala state) and the strategic location of the state in the field of livestock breeding and trade and its economic importance, the veterinary authorities have created a center for vaccination and inspection.

    A number of activities have been included in the project, which is managed and implemented in a positive partnership between Practical Action-Sudan and the Ministry of Animal Resources.  The project has provided significant support in improving the working environment by providing items such as furniture, communications equipment and sprayers. It also supported the reporting and information systems through providing internet access.

    The project has implemented a sophisticated refrigeration supply chain for the storage of vaccines and collection of samples for lab diagnosis, in addition to equipment for vaccination, protective clothing and vaccine delivery ice-boxes.

    The state quarantine department was also provided with mechanical sprayers for spraying of external parasites and pests to avoid vector-borne diseases.

    This was reflected in the provision of a quality and sophisticated service  to control the risk of diseases that may affect the flow of animal trade out of the country, as reflected in the managed data at the quarantine department of Kassala state.

    Dr. Molhima said;

    “These quarantine machines helped in saving time and effort. Many thanks to Practical Action for their support.”

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  • Better veterinary services in remote areas

    October 12th, 2017

    The EU funded Livestock Epidemio Surveillance Programme for Eastern Sudan (LESP-ES) aims to establish effective  epidemio-surveillance and control of trans-boundary animal diseases and priority diseases and link with national institutional frameworks through strengthening capacities for epidemio-surveillance.

    Different activities were conducted to accomplish this including the provision of three check points on the border with Ethiopia, at Basunda in Taya and Galabat as well as Alassera in Guresha.  There are also three interstate check points at Shajarab and Sada  between Gedarif and Kassala State and Khyary between Gedarif and Gezera State.

    In order to provide proper veterinary services at those points, the programme has supplied nine motorbikes at these check points in addition to the three motorbikes already in Gebesha Aburakham and Sefawa to cover the long borders.

    Veterinary technicians were appointed to take responsibility for providing veterinary services and monitoring livestock movements in these vital area, taking into account that livestock  know no borders in their search for pasture and water.

    The programme has helped improve the of skills and experience of veterinary technicians through multiple training courses for those at checkpoints among others.

    Hassan Yousif Abdalla From Guresha was one of these technicians deployed  at the Alassera check point near the Ethiopian border. He expressed his appreciation for the role played by the programme and Practical Action in supporting veterinary services in remote rural areas where it is difficult to find veterinarians because numbers in the state are low.  He said that having an office here was a dream come true. Now it’s much easier to deliver veterinary services and to work with people in different villages as well as those who come asking for help.

    Hassan said that before the motorbikes arrived it was difficult to monitor livestock movements or provide support to pastoralists and animal owners because villages were so scattered  and the roads unpaved.

    “Now I can travel to all surrounding villages and provide veterinary services and meat inspections and to investigate all outbreaks of disease whenever I’m notified.  I can even provide help to pastoralists and animal owners across the border with Ethiopia. They come and ask for help because we are neighbours and have a common weekly livestock market in this area.  The programme had provided me with a mobile phone so anyone can reach me.  I can always ask  the local animal resources directorate for advice when I need it.”

    Hassan said that he provides treatment and extension services even at household level and his work covers more than thirteen villages.  He performs meat inspections at the weekly livestock market and monitors the meat provided at local restaurants for the sake of better public health.

    Hassan is sure of the importance of checkpoints as means of providing veterinary services to poor people in marginalized areas but has some worries about the sustainability of the service after withdrawal programme support.

    Livestock owner Adam Nemer said that the presence of check points in the area encouraged farmers to concentrate on their herds because it is easier now to find support when needed.  He explained:

    “Hassan helps us a lot.  He treats sick animals and provides guidance and advice on how to rear the herd and how to avoid diseases through better nutrition.  He also encourages us to undertake routine vaccination in order to prevent major disease outbreaks.”

    Finally Hassan explained that the caravan should be provided with extra veterinary field tools that would help them in performing their duties.

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  • A step forward for women’s empowerment

    September 25th, 2017

    Livestock Epidemic Surveillance Programme (LESP) , funded by the European Community aims to improve awareness and skills of rural livestock producers and other stakeholders in animal health and production.  It is supporting this community initiative in collaboration with the Animal Resources Directorate in Wassat.  They have formed more than 200 women pastoralist committees covering most of the villages in the region, which have been registered as official committees.

    In addition they helped obtain finance from banks with direct support from the Sudan National Bank as part of a national policy to support the livelihoods of the rural poor. Each household was given three sheep to be raised by the family. The Animal Resource Directorate monitors each committee’s monthly payments to the bank and the health of these small herds.  They have conducted several treatment campaigns which have shown to have had a positive impact on the welfare and livelihoods of rural families.

    Practical Action led the process of forming the women’s pastoralist committee network. Building on its legacy of empowering rural communities especially women and contributing to gender equality through mainstreaming gender issues, we aim to build better understanding of the positive role of such networks in fostering better performance.

    In order to help these pastoralist committees rear their small  herds the programme conducted several training courses related to animal health.  Women attending were shown how to judge the proper health condition of their animals, how to identify a sick animal, which diseases should case major concern and their symptoms and treatment.  The importance of notification of disease to the veterinary authorities and vaccination were among other topics covered.

    The committee’s executives were also trained on project management and financial procedures in order to be able to run their own business.

    Consultation between the partners led to the decision to support a veterinary drug store as a revolving fund  managed by the women pastoralist committees network Executive desk, under the direct supervision of  Animal Resources Directorate at Wassat.

    The programme provided office furniture, stationery and drugs while the Ministry of Animal Resources issued a veterinary drugstore license and appointed a veterinary technician to supervise the service.

    The Department of Health in Wassat offered to host the store in their new health clinic at Abu Alnaja.  This clinic with provide pastoral women with drugs and veterinary assistance at a moderate price which, managed wisely will generate revenue for a revolving fund.

    The opening ceremony of the veterinary drugstore took place on 18 September. The Ministry of Animal Resources was represented by His Excellency the Animal Resources Minister as well as the East Sudan office coordinator and LESP-ES local technical advisor, and representatives from Wassat’s legislative council, members of the women’s pastoralist committees and  villagers of Abu Alnaja villages.

    Following the opening of the store, there was an exhibition,  speeches and a drama.  The ceremony was attended by  students of the University of Alneelen’s Faculty of Animal Production on their annual scientific trip, who indicated their appreciation of the idea and the support given to the community.


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  • A better life for women and girls

    B26, Sudan, | August 8th, 2017

    Poverty, marginalisation, traditions and customs together with gender blind plans and policies contribute to gender inequality in Sudan.

    Women and girls are traditionally responsible of all domestic work in Sudanese houses.  Moreover, they are burdened by water and wood daily fetching journeys which consume between three to eight hours per day in the dry regions of Darfur, Kordofan and East Sudan. Housewives spend much time and effort on unpaid activities (water and wood fetching) and are exposed to sometimes fatal hazards associated with sexual violence, abortion incidences and severe injuries.

    Water pump SudanAdolescent girls often drop out of school to help their families with domestic work and to look after their younger siblings in the absence of mothers. Young women lack the knowledge and skills required to engage in formal employment and are trapped in the poverty cycle without any income generating sources.

    These dependant girls are usually married under-age which increases morbidity and mortality rates among mothers and newborns. Registered early marriage between girls 15-19 years reached 26% in the rural areas of Sudan. Shockingly, child marriage for girls under 15 reaches 10% in the same areas.

    Practical Action Sudan puts women at the heart of its work. In our three year strategic business plan 2017-2020, we intend to prioritise women needs and transform their lives in a positive way that will impact the whole community.

    Women associations and institutions are identified as key actors in our programme. They represent our main implementing partners and supporting researchers in the field of clean fuels. Rural women are involved in our projects at community level and participate in the development process through participating in activities such as membership of water committees in WASH projects. They also manage women farms in agricultural-resilience projects and grow nutritious food for their children and to increase families’ incomes.

    WDAN, SudanThrough increasing women participation; we open the door for thousands of women to be socially empowered. Our participatory approaches and actions ensure that women needs and priorities are well-represented and they are equally involved in the projects.

    “I and village’s women walk to fetch water in the early morning and return back by the sunset! our kids stay without food for long time.” Haleema, 43 years old, from Mogabil Village, North Darfur

    Building the capacity of rural women and girls is one of the most important strategies of tackling poverty among women and their families. Training programs support women to become effective income generators, and empower them to create their own market opportunities and improve their livelihoods.

    community meeting sudanMany life changing experiences on the ground tell inspiring stories about Sudanese women who have moved from poverty, dependency and ignorance into productivity, independence and participation in decision-making as a socio-economical impact of our development interventions in rural areas. I believe that the approaches we adopt are very effective, as women’s empowerment is not a decision to be taken or a service to be delivered; it is a process of improving the environment of women and equipping them with the necessary knowledge and skills to find their way and embrace opportunities with dignity.

    “The training program delivered by Practical Action staff has empowered us and upgraded our capacity to expand our network and reach greater number of rural women.” Hanan Zayed, Head of Kassala Women Development Associations Network

    Our team in Sudan will continue the steps we have planned toward empowering women and changing their lives. We believe that the track toward gender transformation is long and tough; however continuous hard work and advocacy efforts will ensure we achieve our ambition and help millions of Sudanese women to achieve the good life they deserve.

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