Improving women's status

Managing their own development

Women in Kassala and Gedarif, who were organized in community-based organisations (CBOs), were further brought together under two umbrella networks, Organisational, leadership, management, lobbying and advocacy skills training was extended. Technical training such as agro-processing was also given to the CBO members.

Women were able to improve their families' livelihoods from income generated as a result of technical training and the establishment of a community managed revolving fund. Women vendors in Kassala market were secured legal market space and escaped the harassment and raids of local authorities.

In Gedarif and Kassala, the network advocated the right of women farmers to enjoy the same resources and inputs as men. For the first time in the history of the area women farmers now have access to improved seeds.

Practical Action has also supported women in North Darfur to organise themselves in women development associations (WDAs). The project has also facilitated women access to market space. In Kassala, the women's network has supported the promotion of gas as clean energy where 1,400 families acquired gas appliances on credit basis.

"We see a bright future. We have gained a lot of knowledge and independency and we are capable of making our own decisions. We also feel more comfortable and mentally at peace. We are able to apply the knowledge that we have gained from the awareness workshops into our lives. Men used to mock us and consider us weak but now they have respect for us. We were responsible for bringing running water to the community and now men refer to us as the 'the women who brought the water'.''
-- Haleema Musa-Alsooq Ashaabi-Kassala

Community Networks in Darfur

The major element in Practical Action's method is operation through existing community structures. Each village has its own development committee (VDC), some have women development associations (WDAS), and others have market associations.

Practical Action then established three networks in North Darfur to connect these local groups: VDCs net, WDAs net, and markets net. These networks are operating autonomously by securing funds from donors such as the UN agencies and international NGOs. The VDCs net secured over US$600,000 in 2008-9. They are involved in the provision of services such as health, education and livelihoods projects for their communities.

This project is part of Practical Action Sudan's Markets & livelihoods programme

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