Rural transport in western Sudan
Community-built routes to improved access
For poor people trying to escape poverty, lack of mobility can push them further into physical and economic isolation. Practical Action Sudan works to help poor communities in North Darfur State increase their access to the facilities and services including markets that are essential to improving their lives, opportunities and economic growth.
This work has now been completed, but learning from these projects continues to inform our work. For the most recent information, please see our project news or read more about our Access to Services programme.
Following the path forged in the Eastern Sudan Integrated Technology Programme, the development of intermediate means of transport (IMT) devices such as animal drawn carts has been promoted. Around 40 metal workers in North Darfur have been trained so far in the use of wheel-making sets and production of carts, trailers and wheelbarrows together with spare parts.
Practical Action Sudan has supported the creation of a manufacturer society for the production of these IMTs and maintained distribution channels for the finished products through village development committees. These committees have their own funds for purchasing IMTs and selling them on to local farmers through a credit system.
Last year 15 carts were produced by the manufacturer society as income-generating sources for poor households. A further 16 carts were built for local community-based organisations.
Building feeder roads
The production and use of increasing numbers of the carts and other IMTs in and around North Darfur's Jebel Si and Kabkabiya communities brought an urgent need to build rural roads. The existing paths were simply not suitable for cart traffic.
With the technical assistance of an engineer from Sri Lanka, where Practical Action South Asia is heavily involved in promoting and supporting community-built rural roads, training has been undertaken with local people on such projects. In 2001 community groups in Jebel Si were mobilised to start feeder road construction to markets and services. Tools needed for the building work were collected, Practical Action Sudan helped transport 15 tons of cement to Jebel Si from Khartoum and the community hand-dug a well to provide water.
By the middle of 2001, 22 km of feeder roads connecting villages in North Darfur to markets and services had been built through community-building schemes.
Other construction work undertaken by local people through the rural transport programme has included the building of bridges and erosion controls. Some construction was undertaken using local people's traditional knowledge of building with stone.
Practical Action Sudan has helped establish a local transport forum with the aim of creating links with similar networks elsewhere and advocate for poor people's rights concerning access to transport.
Case study: improved donkey carts
Cart packs a productive load
Abdall Omer Saeedo, a farmer in the western Sudan province of Kebkabyia, had a major problem.
How could he take a sufficient quantity of vegetables and green fodder to the market 10km away to make enough money to cover production and packing costs, and also provide for the needs of his wife, three daughters, one son, his elderly mother and other dependent relatives?
He needed his donkey to carry at least ten sacks and five bags of produce to each of the twice-weekly markets.
But Saeedo risked losing money if he could not sell enough of his agricultural produce at each market and unsold products had to be thrown away.
Facing a loss of up to 3,250 Sudanese Dinars (US $12) each time this happened, he became worried. He considered either moving to another area or selling his products inside his farm to wholesalers, which often meant receiving very low prices that might not cover production costs.
Saeedo approached Practical Action Sudan. Through the organisation's work on getting local metal workers to produce intermediate means of transport, a special design of donkey cart was produced for him.
The cart now enables him to transport all his produce to market in one trip, saving packing costs and journey times. Any unsold produce is simply returned in good condition to Saeedo's farm to be taken on the next market day or to another market.
A much happier man, Saeedo was able to earn not less that 15,000 Sudanese Dinars (US $56) each market day up to the end of the season, which lasts not less that three months after the rainy season. He can now pay for his children's school fees and other family needs.
On the move
Animal-drawn carts have helped mobilise poor people living in eastern Sudan. Practical Action Sudan's transport programme in Kassala and Gedarif States has included the designing of a cheaper cart that is more affordable to poor people.
Made locally and with proven durability, the carts can help generate income of about 2,000 Sudanese Dinars (US$ 7.50) daily for the owner or operator. They also provide cheap transport for users and save time in tasks such as hauling water.
Over 200 carts were manufactured and distributed for the use of poor families during 2001/ 2002. More than 40 metal workers were trained in making wheels and different forms of intermediate means of transport devices including carts.
This work forms part of Practical Action Sudan's Eastern Sudan Integrated Technology Programme.