Welcome to the second issue of the Recovery and Rehabilitation Programme E-Bulletin. This monthly newsletter aims to highlight project successes while keeping development partners updated on RRP news.

The RRP is a five-year initiative (2005-2010), including four years of implementation. The largest and most comprehensive recovery programme in Sudan, the RRP is managed by UNDP on behalf of the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan with funding of € 55.8 million; € 49.75 million of which comes from the European Commission, and € 1.5 million from the Government of Norway. A total of 44 national and international NGOs are working together in 10 states across the country (Blue Nile, Abyei, River Nile, Red Sea, South Kordofan, Northern Upper Nile, Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria, Warrap and Northern Bahr Al-Ghazal) concentrating on institutional strengthening, improving livelihoods and basic services.

This issue will focus on RRP projects in Red Sea State; where the harsh desert climate and isolation of many of these communities can make projects difficult. But despite the challenges faced, these tight knit communities have demonstrated remarkable results.

Part of the Red Sea State consortium’s success is because of the excellent coordination at the community level. Before the RRP began in this state, communities had already formed the Arbaat Development Association (ADA), a local organization that intended to address the region’s development needs; but meetings and activities were sporadic and poorly organized.

However, with the encouragement and logistical support of the RRP the group became more active and now meets once a month in Port Sudan to discuss issues and make decisions that affect development of Red Sea State.

These communities have traditionally depended on agriculture and fisheries to sustain themselves; but even with the right skills and strong desire to work, their income was limited. This was due to a lack of resources needed to pay for start-up material such as water pumps for farms and boats for fishermen. Because of the provision of these supplies by the RRP, many families are now earning more than they ever have before.

The fishermen and farmers in Arbaat have not only started successful business initiatives, they have organized themselves into groups that produce and market their goods collectively. The profits made from the fish and vegetables are distributed equally among those who participate in the projects.

This concept of community ownership is exactly what the programme strives to encourage; and proves that real recovery comes from community based, sustainable solutions – the kind that RRP partners are implementing not only in Red Sea State but across Sudan.

Fishermen Reel in Shared Profit

“You can always tell when you are getting near the sea, says 50-year old Ali Abu Ali. “The air feels different; cooler against your skin.”

Ali and most of the men in his village have been fishing most of their lives. For them, fishing is more than a job, it is a way of life; a topic that finds its way into almost every conversation and an activity that sustains themselves and their families.

For years in this poor, rural region of Arbaat in Eastern Sudan, the men had no proper equipment to fish. They spent their days walking to the shore of the Red Sea and renting very small wooden boats so that they could fish in the shallow coastal waters.

“We would carry the fish we caught slung over our shoulders, and walk from the sea back to the road, a distance of about 3 km,” says Ali.

The men would then wait by the side of the road for a ride. Sometimes the fish would spoil and they would return home empty handed.

But today their hands are full. In the bustling fish market of Port Sudan, Ali and his cohorts sit behind plentiful baskets of fresh, varied fish caught deep in the Red Sea.

They have just returned from a week long fishing trip in one of the three motorized fiberglass boats provided by the Recovery and Rehabilitation Programme. Ali points to dozens of different types of large, colorful fish on display for local hotel and restaurant owners to buy.

“These are fish that can only be found in the deep sea,” says Ali. “Before the small wooden boats we rented weren’t strong enough to travel in the waves, but with the RRP boats we are able to go out to sea for days at a time”

And with the three ice boxes also provided by the RRP, the fishermen are now able to keep the fish fresh for up to one week. This means they can store the fish until they are ready to sell at the market, which is a great advantage, explains Ohaj Ahmed Eimali, of SOS Sahel-one of the RRP partners in Red Sea.

The Arbaat fishing project is truly community-owned, with 105 families benefiting from just three boats. Here is how it works: there are three groups of 35 fishermen; and each group has one boat. Each group is split into five smaller groups and these teams have a rotating schedule for going out to sea. Every time a group comes back from sea, the fish are sold at the local market and the profits spilt between all 35 members.

“The boats and boxes from the RRP changed so much – Now we can travel three to four hours out into the deep sea to fish,” says 30-year -old Serie Abu Ali. "We can catch all kinds of fish that we didn’t have access to in the coastal waters. On a seven day trip we can catch 800 kgs of fish and then sell them for 8 SDG a kg,” he explains as he skins fish on the rocky seashore.

Ali and the other fishermen will cook it over an open fire and sleep on the beach before getting up at the break of dawn to take the boats out again.

It’s a simple life; and requires a simple formula for success: “We catch more fish, we make more money,” says Ali.


Community Farms Cultivate Food and Financial Success

As the sun rises and the smell of ginger-infused coffee fills the air, women emerge from their homes and head to a lush green field of abusabean, a crop used as cattle feed. It grows easily and abundantly in Sudan; provided there is enough water.

Dressed in vibrant colors of fuchsia, orange and yellow; adorned with ornate nose rings and bracelets, these women carry hoes and machetes. They begin chopping stalks, sifting soil, and carrying large bundles of green leaves. Soon after, the roar of a generator can be heard and water begins to flow.

This is one of the 37 community farms made possible through the generators and water pumps provided by the Recovery and Rehabilitation Programme here in Red Sea State; and it is owned and maintained solely by women. These 15 ladies farmed this land in previous years, but their crops were extremely limited due to a lack of water.

“Before this land was dry. We grew only enough to feed the community,” says 43-year-old Aicha. “After the RRP installed the water system we are able to have a business; we not only have food to eat but extra money to buy things like furniture for our homes.”

The main crop cultivated by the women is abusabean; but many of the other community farms here are growing vegetables; and yielding excellent results. Members work on the farms every morning and every evening; and transport the vegetables to the markets in Port Sudan, Atbara and sometimes even Khartoum.

“Everybody talks about the Arbaat vegetables,” says one of the vegetable sellers in the Port Sudan market. “They are grown without pesticides and are fresh and assorted. Really, they are the most popular vegetables here and there is a high demand.”

The demand is being met because of the dedication of community members like Aicha and her partners.

“I am encouraged to work hard and make money so that my son can have a better life,” she says as she stands next to her farm's water pump. “Already since the project began I am able to buy him clothes and books that he didn’t have before.”


Other RRP News from the Last Quarter:

- The River Nile consortium held a week long literacy training course in Khartoum for members of national NGOs working in River Nile. The course focused on reading and writing and also provided computer training. A formal graduation ceremony was held at the Green Village hotel in celebration of their acheivements.

- On May 9, RRP was highlighted in a display of photos and success stories at the European Commission in Khartoum. The event was in celebration of Europe Day; and despite the haboob, all in attendance had a good time. This was an excellent opportunity for invitees to learn more about the programme’s accomplishments.

- The community-based fishing and farming projects in Red Sea State were covered by Al Jazeera News. The success stories are due to air in the next few weeks.