Sudan's Recovery Programmeme Reaps the Benefits of Community's Participation:

Student Helps Build the School He Hopes to Attend

Juba, December 15 2007: Secondary student Paul Zaradia spends his weekends mixing concrete, making bricks, and helping to build the school he hopes to attend in Korera village in South Kordofan. Paul, who is 16 years old, walks back and forth every day from his home in Korera to the neighboring village of Tangal to attend school, along with 200 other Korera students.

“When the school is finished, we will save four hours a day, so much time to help our parents with other work, time for studies, even for rest and to take food. We have really a problem that is affecting us. This is why I have been coming here to help build this school, and I shall continue coming until it is built,” Paul said.

The construction of Korera village school is part of the Recovery and Rehabilitation Programmemme (RRP) in South Kordofan state; one of the ten states benefiting from this € 54 million recovery Programmeme. The four-year RRP is funded by the European Commission, managed and administered by UNDP on behalf of the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan. It is by far the largest and most comprehensive community-based recovery initiative in Sudan hoping to serve up to 800,000 Sudanese across rural areas.

Francis Nyongesa, the RRP construction supervisor in South Kordofan, said Paul began showing up at the construction site on his own initiative asking if he could volunteer alongside the rest of the construction team.

“Without the community’s contribution, the RRP would have had to modify its plans. Instead of a six-classroom building, we would only have been able to build a four-room structure. Korera community has supplied labour and local materials such as stones, gravel, sand, and water. This is truly a community-owned project,” Nyongesa said.

Community members are organized into groups guided by the Korera chief and sheikhs, who ensure people continuously show up to work on construction through a rotating schedule. As people work to build the school, the RRP staff train them in construction, welding, and how to maintain and repair the building in the future.

Ahmed Mohamed Jalle, the South Kordofan RRP project manager said that Kadugli locality in Sotuh Kordofan counts some 5,460 children who do not attend school because there are inadequate facilities, while another 1,006 children walk up to four hours to attend school in a neighbouring village, like Paul. He also said that 1,125 children attend two bush schools that have one teacher apiece, and no desks, equipment, or supplies, while another 150 students gather for school underneath a tree.

The South Kordofan RRP is also building a school in the Alefein community that opened last month. Currently in Alefein, 198 children attend bush schools consisting of simple grass shelters that must be rebuilt every year. With no permanent structures to protect students from rain, sun and wind, the school year ends in October at the beginning of the rainy season. The RRP supported school will allow these children to attend school from July through March, doubling the amount of time school is in session. Once the construction of the school is complete, the Alefein school headmaster expects the number of students to grow to more than 250.

Mohamed Jalle said that the project has chosen to build the school by relying on “self-cementing bricks”. According to this brick-making method, the mixture of soil and cement relies on pressure to harden the bricks that do not need to be fired in an oven. The solidification takes place under pressure rather than heat.

“We use top soil rather then clay, which does not require deep digging. Because the mixture is only 5% cement, it costs half the price of most other construction materials, including red bricks,” Jalle explained.

By introducing this cost-effective brick-making method, the RRP is also hoping to preserve the environment by protecting indigenous forests which are no longer cut down to fuel kilns for making clay bricks. Digging for clay leaves large wholes in the ground that fill up with water during the rainy season, breeding mosquitoes and aggravating malaria.

The South Kordofan RRP is aiming to improve livelihoods for 201,038 returnees and war-affected people by constructing two vocational training centers; creating a micro-finance revolving credit scheme; constructing 12 market structures; increasing agricultural activity; drilling 12 boreholes; and de-mining impact areas. In South Kordofan, the RRP activities are executed by a consortium of NGOs led by Save the Children and made up of the Danish Church Aid, the Diocese of El Obeid, and the Nuba Relief and Rehabilitation Development Organization (NRRDO).

In both North and South Sudan, the RRP has managed to bring together around 50 national and international NGOs currently working to implement a range of recovery and rehabilitation projects in Blue Nile, Red Sea, River Nile, South Kordofan, Northern Upper Nile, Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria, Warrap, Northern Bahr El Ghazal states, and Abyei Area. They are building water points, healthcare units, schools, and sanitation systems; design projects that provide families an opportunity to earn an income; improve the local administration’s performance capacity; and respond to priority needs defined by the communities themselves.

For more information on the RRP, please contact:
Jami Schievelbein
Information Liaison Officer


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