Practical Action in Sudan

Practical Action has had a presence in Sudan since 1974 when the Group (then ITDG) began a motorised ferro-cement boat building project in Juba, southern Sudan, at the request of Christian Aid and the Sudan Council of Churches. The intention was to establish a commercial boatyard to provide much needed local river transport along the upper reaches of the Nile.

In 1987 Practical Action was invited to give technical input to Oxfam, into the Kebkabiya smallholders programme in North Darfur. Two years later, Practical Action decided to extend its operations in Sudan. Its first country director was appointed in 1990 and the Sudan office officially opened its doors in December 1992.

In 1993 an integrated technology programme was developed in eastern Sudan, working in agroprocessing, manufacturing, transport and building materials.

The work includes helping poor people tackle problems of immense poverty caused by harsh environments, limited economic opportunities, lack of access to basic services and civil war. It has involved much effort and great dedication by Practical Action workers - sometimes in the face of grave danger. The need for this important work with vulnerable communities continues.

In 1997, the Darfur programme developed into an integrated programme of work incorporating food processing and transport projects.

The following projects have now been completed, but learning from these projects continues to inform our work.

Reports and case studies from past and continuing projects can be found in our project news archive and in the Sharing newsletter.

Practical Action Sudan's current work is structured under the following three international programme aims:

  • Reducing vulnerability - To strengthen the ability of poor people to use technology to cope with threats from natural disasters and environmental degradation, eg. droughts, floods and civil conflict such as conflict over limited natural resources
  • Making markets work for poor people - To build secure livelihoods for poor people through improved systems of production, processing and marketing. Examples include: product development and diversification, access to technical and market information, access to niche markets, relevant vocational training, and extension services for market oriented agriculture
  • Improving access to infrastructure services - To improve poor people's access to locally managed services, eg. renewable energy services, water, sanitation and waste management

Historical reports from our projects across Sudan were featured in our SHARING newsletter. PDFs of each issue can be downloaded here, or you can read the articles as web pages.

The following articles retained here for reference, but may no longer contain the most recent information on the project concerned.

Biomass energy from mesquite shrubs 2009
An improved design for a metal charcoal kiln can help to improve livelihoods, while also controlling a pervasive weed.

Green is beautiful: regenerating vegetation cover in Darfur 2009
Land degradation and depletion of vegetation cover is a major problem the rural areas around El Fashir. Practical Action has been working for several years to regenerate vegetation cover, rehabilitate the gum Arabic belt, and protect villages, rangeland and farming land from desertification.

Participatory Innovation Development 2009
Promoting local innovations in ecologically oriented agriculture and natural resource management

Challenges and future vision of the General Karkade Farmer’s Producers Union KFPU 2009
Experiences from the Making Hibiscus Markets Work for Poor Farmers project in North Kordofan state.

Technology Development 2009
A look at technologies being developed by Practical Action Sudan, including the Dual Purpose Weeder. Practical Action works in collaboration with local innovators, inventors, indigenous knowledge, universities, the private sector and the end users themselves in a process known as Participatory Technology Development.

Case study: Salbal Community Farm 2009
Practical Action has been working in Blue Nile since 2007 on a project to rebuild the livelihoods of returnees, internal displaced people (IDPs) and the war-affected population. This case study sees how a village development committees initiated a community farm as part of a new approach to cooperative farming systems to increase income.

Water pond a successful response to pastoralists rights 2008
Practical Action Sudan deepened the natural water reservoir of Sam Turuk. This helped the nomadic tribes along the nomadic routes and also helped the pastoral people to keep their livestock out of the conflict areas for longer periods and provided valuable natural grazing areas.

The need for access to shelter 2008
The majority of the inhabitants of Wau Nor and Kadugli in Kassala are living in inadequate shelters. In participation with the community, engineers and builders, characteristics of an appropriate design were reached using locally available materials, and a community managed shelter fund was established to fund house construction.

Promoting the concept of Community forest - the case of Majdoub village community forest 2008
Fetching firewood around Majdoub village, west of El Fashir, is becoming increasingly difficult as people, mainly women and children have to walk long distances looking for firewood. In coordination with the community, Practical Action embarked on a tree planting project in an area threatened by desertification.

Creativity and flexibility: key factors to success 2007
An experience of development interventions in a complex emergency situation - re-establishing food self-resilience among drought-affected populations of North Darfur.

The Ridge Maker - a suitable device for cheap and fast terraces construction 2007
During 2007 a Practical Action Food Security Project in Kassala introduced a ridge maker for terrace erection as an appropriate technology that is cost-effective and suitable for the local environment.

Better access to water in informal settlements – January 2005
ITDGPractical Action Sudan participated in an international research project to identify the constraints, opportunities and strategies that can enable small water-providing enterprises to deliver an acceptable water service to poor urban consumers.

Sustainable urban livelihood interventions – January 2005
In order to gain a better understanding of sustainable urban livelihood interventions, four studies were carried out in areas of Khartoum and Kassala. The chosen locations were slum areas and camps for people displaced by war: in Khartoum, El Salam and Sheikan, and in Kassala, Wau Nur and Atala Barra. This report reflects the findings of the studies.

Improving urban livelihoods project – January 2005
Based in Kassala, the project aims to promote greater productivity within the informal sector and increase the disposable income of poor urban men and women, targetting poor women-headed households, including internally displaced people and marginalized groups.

Sustainable and effective kitchen smoke alleviation – January 2005
A report on the outputs and achievements of ITDGPractical Action Sudan's Smoke and Health project in Wau Nur and Kadugli.

Impact of Women's Development Associations for women of eastern Sudan – January 2005
An evaluation of ITDGPractical Action Sudan's Women's Development Associations project, which since 1994 has helped to equip women with the necessary skills to engage in income-earning opportunities.

News from Northern Darfur  – July 2004

Reducing vulnerability: Strong women, strong communities – April 2004
The growth of Women's Development Associations is one of ITDGPractical Action Sudan's greatest achievements. Over 13,000 women have been trained in food processing, creating business opportunities and greater food security.

Blacksmiths forge new skills – April 2004
Training blacksmiths in Kassala Garbelgash. The skills and practices of the blacksmiths have a long history. However, ITDGPractical Action found that there was room for improvement through technology and training that can improve the blacksmiths' output and increase their market potential

Challenging climate change: Terracing technology in Darfur – April 2004
A demonstration farm compares crescent-shaped terraces with traditional rectangular terraces. All the necessary equipment and tools were produced locally and volunteer farmers (men and women) were trained in how to lay out and construct the crescent-shaped terrace.

Going home: is repatriation a real possibility for Internally Displaced People? – January 2004
Many internally displaced people (IDPs) have started to think about returning home to their original lands. But for most people the idea of 'home' is still an uncertainty, and their decision to move is difficult.

Local women give aid to refugees – January 2004
In 2003 the village of Kafuat in Darfur saw an influx of internally displaced people, fleeing from tribal conflicts in their home areas. Women from the Women's Development Association collected tents from the community to provide shelter, and provided food for the 113 displaced families.

Music helps people to live in harmony – January 2004
Indigenous cultural practices have an important place in the lives of displaced people. ITDGPractical Action staff working in Wau Nur and Kadugli saw an opportunity to use music and theatre as a vehicle to promote messages among the tribes regarding issues such as gender, health, education, conflict resolution and peace building.

Peace-building through technology – January 2004
Hostilities are exacerbated by drought, which shrinks the pasturelands, causing nomads to break in to farmers' crops and let their herds feed. ITDGPractical Action employs technology-based solutions to help farmers protect their livelihood.

Floods hit Kassala as El Gash river bursts its banks – October 2003
Floods devastated the town of Kassala in July and August 2003. ITDGPractical Action staff give personal accounts that highlight both the immediate danger and long-term damage of flash flooding.

The vicious circle of drought in North Dafur – October 2003
ITDGPractical Action staff in Darfur are working steadily to conserve water under the constant threat of drought. ITDGPractical Action's projects in diversifying non-farm income generation skills, diversifying production technologies and upgrading water harvesting techniques are all mechanisms that strengthen coping strategies and help rural communities to save their supplies for the days when it doesn't rain.

Turra Water Dam – October 2003
ITDGPractical Action has recently completed a water dam project in Turra, North Darfur, involving construction of a dam to conserve and channel precious water for a number of practical uses. The dam will benefit animals, crops, and of course, people.

New water turbine reflects local needs – October 2003
A Sudanese post-graduate student has developed a new, cheaper turbine that can distribute water for poorer farmers and others who really need it.

Dafur famers need to diversify – releasing the potential of Karkadeh – July 2003
In the markets of Darfur, competition is driving down prices, and as a result, incomes are also dropping. One way of breaking the cycle is to diversify.

Kassala smoke and health project tackles indoor air pollution – July 2003
The burning of biomass fuels in traditional stoves is an inefficient process which results in the release of heavy smoke containing large amounts of toxic pollutants.

Improving village water stores – using hafirs to catch rainwater – July 2003
Villagers in rural North Darfur have been using Hafirs to catch and store rainwater for hundreds of years. One Hafir can provide drinking water for a whole village, but the traditional construction and design are flawed, causing water to be lost as a result.

Building small businesses in Kassala – July 2003
In the displaced and marginalised communities of eastern Sudan, access to finance is a major constraint on development.

Capacity building in South Kordofan – July 2003
NGOs regularly send imported agricultural tools to conflict areas within Sudan. However, the tools are often inappropriate to the environment and are detrimental to socioeconomic factors, being manufactured externally, rather than locally.

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