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  • Participatory market systems development

    Fatima Mahmoud A/Aziz

    January 6th, 2017

    Kassala Talkok village is a place where many people produce and innovate. But there is one big problem – they do not know how to market their products.

    To address this Practical Action Sudan organised a workshop centered on the concepts and application methods of Participatory Market Systems Development (PMSD), as part of the Aqua 4 East project.

    The rationale behind this training is the need to expand the understanding of project participants about their own obstacles and constraints in order to enable them to engage in community development with extensive perspective and knowledge.

    PMSD workshop Talkot

    Unlike other approaches PMSD  suits such situations where community capability and readiness is restricted by a variety of factors that hindering their applications.  Almost all the participants were new to this approach and were excited by its features.

    The facilitation of the training was done by an expert who has previous working experiences in the same field with Practical Action, which helped the workshop reach its objective

    The objective of this training was to enable representatives of local communities and Aqua 4 East project partners  to participate in their communities and institutions to contribute to the achievement of project goals through the application of market development systems.

    PMSD workshop Talkok

    Specific training objectives

    To enable participants to understand the approach to market development systems through identifying:

    • Tools used in the participatory market system development
    • Guidelines steps involved in development of markets systems
    • How to use the application method on the ground

    As a result of the training participant acquired the skills and knowledge of practical and scientific PMSD and its application on the ground.  They learned the basic steps of the road map approach to market development systems and how to apply them along with a knowledge of the markets systems partners of the market at various levels and roles of each partner’s specific market.

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  • Involving women in water projects in Talkok

    Entisar Mustafa

    December 19th, 2016

    The DfID funded Aqua 4 East water and sanitation (WASH) project in Talkok aims to increase women’s participation in its project activities despite the status of women in the locality.

    Women’s participation in WASH projects can have many benefits. It can contribute to the achievement of specific objectives regarding the functioning and use of facilities and also to the of wider development goals. Their participation can also be of both direct and indirect benefit to the women themselves.

    women's participation SudanThe potential contribution of women to these objectives emerges logically from their traditional participation in water supply and sanitation as domestic managers. Women decide where to collect water and according to the season, how match water to collect and how to use it. In their choice of water source, they make reasoned decisions based on their own criteria of access, time, effort, water quantity, quality and reliability. In addition, much of the informal learning about water and sanitation takes place through interpersonal contact between women.

    Therefore women’s opinions and needs have important consequences for the acceptance, use and readiness to maintain new water supplies and for the health impact of the supply and for the ultimately of the project.

    Aqua for East SudanWomen’s participation in catchment committees is mainly administrative. For the first time women from Talkok from the Hadandwa tribe, attended training outside their villages. They have a tradition and culture that puts them under men’s control even within the village so meetings in the presence of men are not possible. The Elgandoul network for rural development which is responsible for the implementation of this part of the project, played a very important role is the discussions and negotiations with local authority leaders. As a result, they allowed six women from the areas participating in the three catchments to attend the three day integrated water resource management training workshop together with men in Kassala.

    At the end of the training Talkok leaders were convinced of the value of women’s participation and decided to allow them to attend future training sessions.

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  • Empowering women economically

    Howida Ahmed

    November 27th, 2016

    As one of the activities of the low smoke stove project we established twenty saving and loan committees in El Fasher town to spread the concept of saving among women’s groups. The hope is to empower women and also to contribute to improving women’s lives.

    Economic empowermentMost of our beneficiaries are poor women, the majority did not complete their education and have little or no income. Most of women are small traders in vegetables or handcrafts.  However for those making local perfume, and food processing, their capital is too small to expand their trade to increase their profit.

    We introduced the idea of savings and loans to help women to overcome these economic barriers.  These committees are not new but we are trying to introduce a model of savings and loans that help the women to be more organized, to have a good understanding of the concept and the ability to take on and manage the loan.

    Many women now are very happy following their involvement in savings and loan committees, Some started income generating activities that help to pay school fees for their children.  In addition they are making social relationships among women’s groups which will help them exchange ideas and share knowledge.

    Furthermore women groups have been able to provide equipment based on women’s needs. They pay in advance to acquire LPG stoves and thereafter in monthly installments.  In some cases some women cannot afford to pay the advance, so the saving committee lend them money to pay this.

    We found among the saving and loan committees’ women headed the household and took all home responsibilities.  This group of women needs support to build their capacity in managing a revolving fund and to build managerial skills. This will help encourage the women to start investing and to take a loan from the committees and as well as giving them access to financial institutions.  As the saving model has been successful, other women have been persuaded to copy the idea.


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  • A new dawn for livestock health in Eastern Sudan

    Manal Hamid

    November 24th, 2016

    The Livestock Epidemio Surveillance Programme (LESP-ES) aims to improve the livelihoods and resilience to food insecurity of about 427,000 vulnerable rural smallholders in the three Eastern Sudan states Kassala, Gedaref and Red Sea.

    The planned interventions aim to strengthen the technical capacities of regional veterinary services through achieving three results:

    1. Technical capacities for coordinated epidemio-surveillance and control of trans-boundary animal diseases strengthened at state level
    2. Diagnostic capacity of veterinary laboratories and quarantine facilities at state and locality levels improved.
    3. Awareness and skills of rural livestock producers and other stakeholders concerning animal health, production and trade are improved.

    LESP meetingOne of the main concerns is the improvement of the diagnostic capacity of veterinary laboratories and quarantine facilities at state and local levels. Activities that will help achieve this are the improvement of  the work environment through rehabilitation of the Gedarif Veterinary Regional laboratory, provision of  furniture and  increasing the capacity of cold chain facilities for storage of samples.  The Regional Veterinary Research Laboratory plays a crucial role in livestock export through the diagnosis of trade relevant diseases such as Brucella.

    Dr HamadDr. Hatim Hamad, director of the laboratory, indicated that the support he had received from Practical Action through LESP project is unprecedented and could not be afforded by the Ministry of Finance. He indicated that the enhancement of the work environment had contributed positively to best practices and the support to the cold chain facilities enable the laboratory to accommodate the samples of more than 13 veterinary professionals pursuing their Masters degrees as well as the training of veterinarians and veterinary technicians/

    He also noted that the support  received enabled the laboratory to open a new tick identification and classification unit taking in consideration the importance of tick borne diseases. He added that the epidemio-surveillance field missions executed through  the project will enable the collection of tick samples from different state localities and during this period he had successfully  identified Hyaloma species for the first time in Gedarif State.

    LESP activityHe indicated that the provision of better diagnostic tools and equipment will improve the diagnostic capacities of the lab tremendously and help in meeting the OIE requirement which is considered one of the major ways in which the programme has added value.

    Dr Hamad expressed his appreciation for the efforts exerted by Practical Action towards the development of Eastern Sudan States and his wish to continue cooperation between Practical Action and Ministry of Livestock in the future.

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  • Success for savings and loan associations in North Darfur

    Izdehar Ahmed Mohamed

    November 20th, 2016

    People living in poverty in the conflict-stricken area of North Darfur face a severe shortage of money for household needs. They either endure the hardships or try to find someone to borrow money from. When it comes to women smallholders, they lack money for inputs and other cash needs in their household’s.

    To address this problem, saving is a way forward. Those who can save then have funds for unexpected needs in the household and for timely investment in groups.

    Fatima stoves SudanPractical Action Sudan, in partnership with the Women’s Development Association (WDAN) initiated training of horticulture smallholders using the Savings and Loan Association (SLA) approach.

    SLA members save through the purchase of shares with a maximum purchase of five shares allowed per saving meeting. This allows for flexible saving depending on the surplus money members have. They meet weekly or monthly and continue saving for a period of nine to twelve months.

    The project officer for the Community Initiative Sustained Development project within Practical Action Sudan, explained:

    “The aim of SLA is to enable resource-poor households to access financial services in order to finance income generating activities that would increase their income and lift them permanently above the poverty line. It enables money to be available at the right time for purchase of inputs and other energy costs.”

    SLA groups are providing smallholder women with the opportunity to save and borrow flexibly without having to go to the bank. With this savings methodology there are no problems of high minimum deposit requirements, hidden charges, complicated procedures, or difficulty in accessing loans.

    The funds assist in building resilient communities and provide social safety nets, as they are used for inputs purchase, diversifying into other income generating activities, immediate household needs and provide room for assistance to members in case of death, disease or natural disasters. Such diverse services are not provided by local moneylenders, as they are not willing to provide for the poorest.

    The process is very transparent as it involves each and every member within the sharing and lending processes. The fund is shared out at the end of each cycle which is normally nine months to a year.

    This SLA methodology has proved to be a success.  This year 20 SLA groups have been established in Elfashir in North Darfur. Shares accrued range from a minimum of 500SDG (£62) to 700SDG from monthly savings. In addition, the groups also pay towards a social fund, which can be used, when a member is having acute problems, such as unexpected medical expenses.

    Villages using this method have been successful in helping women to learn about saving, to enhance social links within their communities and to make their first investments.

    The project team conducted monthly field visits to monitor the progress of loans saving committees. Committee members contributed an average amount of 25-30 SDG (£8) each month. 345 women have benefited and saved a total amount of 74,101 SDG. At the end of a cycle the money is distributed back to the group members. It is very important that every member’s money is placed in their hand.

    In total  879 households have accessed LPG through this savings program in Elfashir in different districts and 76 women have access to loans to establish income generation activities.

    Women were thankful to Practical Action and the Women Development Association Network for empowering them and enabling them to finance themselves and their family in the face of extreme economic hardship.

    Now I can confidently grow for the market because I have access to finance for inputs from my savings group. I was about to give up due to lack of money.”

    Access to clean sources of energy, livelihood and finance has led to the building of self-respect and self-reliance in the community.

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  • Hand washing Day in Kassala communities

    Fatima Mahmoud A/Aziz

    November 19th, 2016

    On 15th October each year, Global Hand Washing Day is celebrated to motivate and mobilise people around the world to improve their hygiene habits by washing their hands with soap at critical times throughout each day. Washing your hands with soap is the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrheal and acute respiratory infections, which take the lives of millions of children in developing countries every year. In addition to using soap, proper sanitation awareness and drinking clean water are key to preventing disease.

    Handwashing day KassalaThe aims of Global Hand Washing Day are to: promote and support a general culture of hand washing with soap in all societies and raise awareness of the benefits of the simple practice of washing your hands with soap.

    There are many health problems in Kassala state due to the recurring floods. Sewage has contaminated drinking water and hence a large proportion of the state’s population has suffered from illnesses such as cholera and diarrhea. Many people, the majority being children, have died from these diseases.

    The most important solution to these problems is personal hygiene – a solution that has been marked as one of the outputs for the Water 4 East Project.

    Practical Action and the Sudanese Red Crescent  organised the celebrations for this year’s Global Hand Washing Day, with the slogan of ‘make hand-washing a habit’ being championed.  The celebrations took place in a village that had been affected by the floods, with over 50 houses damaged. However, the village is now benefitting from the Water 4 East Project.

    Handwashing day KassalaDuring Global Hand Washing Day, students and communities are taught the importance of washing their hands with soap and water at critical times. With support from the Ministry of Health, people now know and understand the proper way to wash their hands using both soap and water. Validating the awareness day, Ohaj Ahmed explained “we have washed our hands for many years but for the first time, we will follow these steps” and student Hassan Ibrahim told us “we used to not wash our hands with soap for months and did not know the importance of it, but this celebration is clarifying that.”

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  • Block making machines in Sudan

    Mohamed Abdelwahab

    October 24th, 2016

    Practical Action has achieved a major breakthrough in the block-making industry in Eastern Sudan through development of intermediate technology in a rural context and active local participation.


    In in collaboration with a local manufacturer, we have been able to carve a niche by transforming the old conventional version of the block-making machine into a revolutionary pre-cast block-making machine to match the development and sustainability needs of the Aqua 4 East project.

    The machine was developed with a moderate productive capacity in compliance with the requirements of the WASH sector and to address guidelines of the project.

    The hand-operated machine has been transformed primarily to be used for latrine construction. However, the machine can also be used for building high density blocks and bricks for other construction purposes.

    Its unique features are based on the following characteristics:14439662238_c81506fb8a_o

    • No vibration – instead high pressure is compensated to replace vibration.
    • Durability and corrosion resistance.
    • Soil stabilized bricks
    • Adjustable prefab different sized moulds which saves material (cement)
    • The hollow centre of the block narrows the wall thickness without compromising on wall stiffness
    • Environmentally friendly
    • Zero waste hence cost effective
    • Compact and lighter weight compared to previous versions14646213863_e01f270a7e_o
    • High safety
    • No need for electric power
    • Low maintenance
    • Block manufacturing can be turned into a profitable business for many people as no special skills are required for operating the machine.


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  • Sustainable access to water sanitation in Red Sea, Kassala and Gadarif

    Fatima Mahmoud A/Aziz

    September 28th, 2016

    One of Practical Action’s latest projects in Sudan is called ‘Sustainable access to water, and improved sanitation and hygiene behaviour in the three states of Red Sea, Kassala and Gadarif’.

    These three eastern states are among the poorest in Sudan.  The programme will bring sustainable water supplies, improved hygiene and better sanitation practices to 350,000 people.

    ZOA, in collaboration with IAS, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Plan, Practical Action and SOS Sahel (together with the Aqua4East Partnership), will deliver the project over 4 years using an Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) approach.


    Specific Objectives:

    • To establish regional Water Resources Management Committees (WRMC) to represent key stakeholders, and facilitate the development of management plans through a participatory planning process, including analysis from experts on the feasibility of different options.
    • To provide secure access to safe water through renovation and construction of water points and groundwater collection infrastructure
    • To promote improvements in hygiene and sanitation practice
    • To document and share lessons learnt within and outside Sudan

    Project Outputs

    1. Inclusive mechanisms for IWRM  in targeted catchment areas
    • Raise awareness on the importance of water resources management
    • Establish Water Resources Management Committees (WRMCs) for selected catchment areas
    • Train WRMCs
    • Set up data collection systems
    • Conduct catchment-specific feasibility studies on options for water resources management infrastructure
    • Develop Water Resources Management Plans (WRMPs) for selected catchment areas

          2. Sustainable access to water for all user groups

    • Construct appropriate water infrastructures for groundwater collection
    • Renovate and/or construct appropriate drinking water facilities
    • Investigate and promote appropriate methods for household water treatments
    • Train WRMCs and WASHCs on the operation and maintenance of constructed water facilities
    • Establish local spare parts supply chains for water points

         3.  Behaviour change for improved sanitation and hygiene practices

    • Community-based sanitation and hygiene promotion
    • Hygiene promotion in schools
    • Construction of latrines in schools, health centres and public places
    • Support to sanitation-related small business

         4. Action learning to promote replication of IWRM

    • Exchange lessons learnt with other similar projects in Sudan
    • Develop technical papers
    • External seminars on sustainable WASH community based projects

    IWRM in SudanEffective development committees will be formed in three catchment areas across 22 different villages to improve community and grassroots involvement.

    With previous experience in the fields of food security and integrated water resource management, Practical Action was the first to champion the formation of these committees. It is important for local people to participate in the development of projects. Project Manager Emad said,  “Always you are the first and best”.


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  • Changing behaviour through knowledge

    Fatima Mahmoud A/Aziz

    September 27th, 2016

    I was working as a volunteer in the women’s development network association in Kassala state when the Practical Answers project began.

    children in kassalaThe knowledge centre was one of the activities and when I saw it I simply asked myself, can these centres change the behavior of rural communities? We visited four villages in order to assess the needs for these centers.

    We found people ignorant of simple things. One very malnourished child, in second grade at school, caught my attention. When I went to visit the village again after a while, I asked after this child and learned that he had died. This increased my fear and apprehension.  Would these centres be able to change the behaviour of a poor community if even their most basic rights aren’t found – clothing, food and drink.  This is a great challenge for Practical Action.

    satelliteThe centre was furnished with a digital TV and DVD player, chairs, table, mattresses and a generator. We started producing informative materials in Arabic and also translated into local dialects.

    When I next came to visit I found a significant change in the children. They were so much cleaner! I asked them about this change and one of the trainees in the organization who spoke the local dialect surprised me with the response of one of the children.  He told me that when they watch TV they do not like to their clothes to be dirty.  And so a shift is taking place in these villages.

    After a while the Country Director of Kassala came to visit one of the knowledge centres and I was worried whether what we were doing would be clear or not. A meeting was called and we asked 45 year old Sadiq Omar Koliel, what interest there is in these centres in the village and he explained.

    women cooking kassala“We can now make dairy products from our abundant milk.  Previously surplus milk would go bad. I felt very proud when I realized that we had reached a turning point from ignorance to knowledge.”

    “When you plant a seed and wait for it to grow you are afraid for its future. But when you look at success, you are dazzled.”

    This has happened through our knowledge centres and we hope that more and larger communities will benefit through knowledge.

    Community messages

    • Challenge poverty with knowledge
    • Knowledge centres sustain development
    • Developmental theatre is an effective tool for change.
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  • Empowering women in pastoral communities in Sudan

    Fatima Mahmoud A/Aziz

    September 18th, 2016

    Practical Action has established associations for pastoralists in Gadarif to help improve livelihoods.

    LESP livestock training GadarifFinanced by the banks, these associations offer vaccinations and other health care benefits from the Department of Livestock and control of epidemics in Gadarif.  There are more than 70 such associations.

    The project, working in collaboration with the livestock department, has intervened to raise women’s awareness of how to raise and care for animals. Three training courses have been completed in the region, each with 15 women attending.

    LESP livestock training GadarifThese women have been trained on drugs, first aid, wound treatment, injections and optimised animal feed.  They were also shown how to identify common diseases among humans and animals, and how to avoid them.

    The advantages of this training will be reduced animal mortality, increased productivity, better animal welfare and women’s involvement in primary health care.

    At the political level, the Legislative Council praised Practical Action on the training for the women pastoral association about the basics of primary veterinary care and reducing losses of animals.

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