Welcome to the first 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 (2006-2010), 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 € 54.3 million from the European Commission. 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, Juba, Eastern Equatoria, Gogrial East and Aweil) concentrating on institutional strengthening, improving livelihoods and basic services.

This issue will focus on River Nile RRP, where the consortium is comprised of all national NGOs, namely Roots Organization for Development, Global Health Foundation, Nawafil Elkhairat Organization, and African Charitable Society for Mother and Child Care.

With support from the European Commission and UNDP, the four local NGOs are leading recovery efforts by successfully building water systems, rehabilitating water points, schools and health facilities, and conducting training sessions for community development committees, local government authorities, teachers and health workers.

It has been noted that the success of the RRP in River Nile had to do with the easy communication and efficient coordination between the consortium, the local government authorities and the community development committees.

“Working with local NGOs is easy,” said the Deputy Commissioner of Abu Hamed locality at a meeting last week in River Nile. “There is no language barrier, they understand the local context, and they already know what the issues are.”

Community leaders also share the same feeling: “We know that we can call on any member of the locality or the NGOs at any time for advice or assistance because, at the end of the day, we are from the same community”, said Mr. Mubarak Abdulah, a community development leader from the small village of Tuaakin.

Recognizing the success of Sudanese NGOs in taking recovery and development into their own hands, Officer in Charge of the consortium, Mr. Mohi El Din emphasizes that it wouldn’t have been possible without the assistance of the international community.

“Just because this is the only RRP project managed by national organizations does not mean that we do not need international NGOs. We are greatly benefiting from the UN and the EC in direction and management, it is well managed; and we couldn’t do this without them. It’s a mutually beneficial partnership; we all learn from each other.”

Below are some of the successes that this partnership has generated.

Food Production Training makes Cents

Thirty-five-year old Alwaia Ahmed Elnigai might have never known she had an entrepreneurial streak in her had she not decided to participate in the RRP food processing course that was offered in Tuaakin, a small and sleepy village with little economic activity in River Nile State.

“I had no income, and not much to do so when the opportunity to take the food production training course came up, I decided to go,” she said.

Little did she know that the training would give her the skills she needed to run a small business and the income she needed to support her children. The 10-day course, led by African Charitable Society for Mother and Child Care, trained 10 women in food processing; including how to make cookies, jams, syrups and juice. The training was part of the RRP livelihoods intervention in River Nile State that aims to increase income generating activities in rural communities.

After the course ended Alwaia started experimenting with the baking techniques she learned. She found that she had a knack for making cookies.

“I bought a bit of flour, a bit of sugar and step by step my creations improved,” she said.

She began taking it to the local market to sell. As the demand for Alwaia’s sweets grew, so did her desire to run a business. She now takes special orders from members of the surrounding communities. Once the orders are ready, she uses the village bus to travel to her customers and drop off the cookies. Alwaia sells around 200 SDGs worth of cookies a month, and the cost of making them is 105 SDGs. The 95 SDGs profit is shared with the two women who help her bake.

“This gives me hope, I would like to expand my business and have more customers”, she said. “Being able to make my own money gives me a sense of independence that I never had before.”

Water Network Sprouts Unexpected Returns

The first time the water started flowing through the pipes in the dry, remote village of Ashkoot, all that could be heard throughout the community was the sound of “zaghrouta”, the celebratory ululation of joy that is particular to the region.

“We were so happy that day, says Fatma Al Hassan. Before we were suffering; we had to carry water from the Nile –it’s a half hour walk that we had to do five times a day, it took a lot of time and effort.”

But now the women of the village have extra time and energy to tend to other activities. Thanks to the water system one of these new activities is gardening. With the access to water, villagers realized that they could easily maintain vegetable and flower gardens inside their homes. These days, almost every household in Ashkoot has at least a small garden with basic vegetables such as onions, cucumbers and potatoes flourishing underneath the sun.

In this quiet and peaceful village, it is not uncommon to see a child walking down the road munching on a carrot, or a group of people sitting and sharing a melon. Yellow and purple flowers peek out from behind the clay walls and the green leaves of spinach and scallions cover the ground.

“Before we had to travel to Abu Hamed to buy vegetables twice a week; but now we have all that we need in our own homes, and at no cost,” says Fatma.

The water network, which is one of six networks established by the RRP in River Nile State, takes water from the Nile and distributes it to the village through a network of pipes.

Here is how it works: Water is taken from the River Nile and then travels up an underground pipe and is released into a cistern. The water is filtered in the cistern and then sent to a water pump. From the water pump it is sent through another underground pipe to a water tank. From the water tank it is distributed to the village through a network of underground pipes; providing communities with clean water for drinking, doing laundry, bathing and gardening.

“What I say is the truth,” says Fatma as she picks some spinach from the garden for her family’s dinner. “This water has changed our lives.”

Midwives Making a Difference in Kurgus

Siham Hamed is in the hospital waiting to deliver her first child. Although she is nervous she says she is confident that the three midwives there will take care of her and her baby. She has been coming to see them every month since she found out about her pregnancy eight months ago.

“I’m grateful to have these women and this hospital here for the day I give birth to my first child,” she says with a smile.

Itmad Osman Ali, 36 is one of the women attending to Siham. She has spent eight years working as a midwife in the remote village of Kurgus.

“It was difficult to work here in the past,” she says. “It was not good; there was not enough equipment here, and we had relatives coming inside the delivery room and disturbing us while we were working. Now the room is clean, private and relaxed; and everyone but the mother and ourselves must wait outside.”

The health centre, which is one of the 10 rehabilitated by the RRP in the state, is a demonstration of how the community, government and the RRP have all built on each others success. Originally constructed by the villagers more than 20 years ago, it was just a small health unit without any equipment or trained staff. When the center became part of the Ministry of Health, the government provided it with drugs and health workers; and the RRP rehabilitated it and offered training courses for people like Itmad, who had previously attended school to become a midwife but could benefit from advanced training.

Today, Itmad says she is comfortable and confident delivering babies in the RRP rehabilitated health centre. “I see all the pregnant women in the village once a month and educate them about proper hygiene and nutrition,” she says. “We deliver about 15 babies a month. When you have a woman who is about to give birth and we can help her to get out of this critical situation, I am happy to solve the problem,” she says.

Other RRP News from the Last Quarter:

In Damazine, two training sessions were held for 18 women’s association groups on microcredit management and business development. A total of USD 18,750 was dispersed to the five women associations as part of a revolving funds programme.

• In Renk, the introduction of new crops prompted the consortium to train 10 local restaurant owners how to cook and serve cassava; a nutritious and versatile root vegetable that is easy to grow in this region.

• In Juba County, two health personnel have secured places in a three year long course that will qualify them as clinical workers; helping avail more staff to RRP rehabilitated health centres.

• In River Nile, a workshop was held focusing on the handover of RRP activities to the government. The consortium, community leaders and government authorities discussed exit strategies and how to prepare for the end of the project.

• In Eastern Equatoria, beneficiaries attended community mine risk awareness presentations; while UXO clearance activities began in Hiyala.

Coming Up:

• On May 9, the European Commission will observe Europe Day in Khartoum. As part of the celebration, the Recovery and Rehabilitation Programme’s achievements will be highlighted in a display including photos, success stories and RRP products. For more information about this event and a calendar of RRP activities please visit the RRP partners website at http://intra.sd.undp.org/rrp/member.php