Welcome to the fourth 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 areas 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 month’s issue will focus on Central Equatoria, where the consortium, led by Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO), with partners Action Africa Help International, ZOA Refugee Care, Sudan Health Association, New Sudan Council of Churches, and Sustainable Community Outreach Programme for Empowerment are showing great success; particularly in the area of agriculture.

Things like farming and beekeeping are traditional activities in this region, but without the proper tools and training, they remain subsistence activities and bring in little to no income. Recognizing the need for capacity building, the RRP created an office for agricultural experts from the county agriculture department to sit. The office, located within the ICCO compound in Wonduruba helps RRP staff and agricultural extension workers come together to train local community members. The compound is surrounded by thriving nurseries with fruit, grains and vegetables; where people are taught how to harvest their own crops.

Many women-headed households are benefitting from this training and demonstrating that given the tools and knowledge they need, they are capable of tackling the agriculture sector. These women are not only feeding their children with the food they are growing, but generating income for entire communities.

Perhaps most notably, they are increasing the flow of domestic produce in a region where even though it is possible to grow vegetables and fruits, the market is still flooded by food coming from neighboring Uganda and Kenya.

In the same vein of encouraging self sufficiency, the RRP business skills training and microcredit schemes are helping traders expand their business as well as their confidence; and the Ganji Life skills centre is sending young adults back to their communities with the skills they need to start small business ventures.

Like so many other RRP initiatives, the project’s success lies in the will of the beneficiaries to work in tandem with the programme. Here in Central Equatoria, a growing economy is taking shape; largely because the people of this region are taking initiative.

Female-run Farms Flourish after RRP Training

Helen Koja holds her son in her arms as she strolls through fields of fresh green vegetables. She bends down, picks a piece of spinach and hands it to the baby in her arms. This, she says, is full of vitamins; and will help children to grow up strong. The spinach and other crops surrounding Koja’s home are doing more than that: they are providing much needed income for the community after years of poverty and conflict.

“Three years ago, my village was not safe,” says Koja. “We had no choice; we had to leave. When we came to settle on this land in Wonduruba, we had nothing. We had to start over.”

As Koja struggled to find her place in her new community and to feed her family, she decided to try and grow some sorghum beside her home.

“I didn’t know how to do it; I was just throwing seeds and covering them with soil. I saw other people watering their land; so I watered my land too,” she says with a laugh. “Eventually some things started growing.”

Her yield was small; but enough to feed her family, so she continued cultivating. What Koja lacked in technical knowledge she made up for in tenacity; and the RRP team noticed.

“We would pass by her everyday and see her working in her garden, says Kalisto Inyani, of ICCO. “It was obvious that she was serious and so we asked her if she was interested in participating in the RRP agricultural training.”

“I was very excited,” says Koja. “They said they would come back and get me when it was time for the training to start. I wasn’t sure if they would show up or not, but they did, and I was ready.”

During the programme Koja and others learned how to plant and take care of different types of crops such as sesame, sorghum, groundnuts, and vegetables.

“Now we cultivate all different types of food and are not broadcasting anymore; I have learned to plant in lines; and this has increased our production greatly.”

In fact, production has increased so much that Koja is not only able to feed her four children but to sell vegetables from a small stall she has set up on the side of the road. With the money she makes from this, she can afford to pay members of the community to do the digging for her; and sometimes even take produce to sell at the Wonduruba market.

Today, Koja grows cabbage, spinach, onions, tomatoes; foods that she didn’t know how to grow or even how to cook before the RRP training.

“I was cooking with anything; as long as it tasted OK and filled us up,” she says. “But now I know which foods have nutrients that my family needs to grow strong.”

With the profit, she plans to buy other seeds to plant and to send all of her children to school next year. But the big purchase will be a brand new house. The region where she is from is more stable, and it is possible for her to return home, but Koja is happy where she is.

“Look around,” she says with a smile as she spreads her arms towards the thriving crops around her. “My life is here now.”

Microcredit Programme Pays Off

A group of men sit outside a shop beside the main road of Wonduruba chatting and drinking cold beverages. A woman rummages through a small cooler and approaches them with another round. As she opens one of the bottles she cracks a joke that gets the crowd going.

Thirty-year old Grace Jokudo is the quintessential proprietor: She keeps people coming back not only for the service she provides but also for the affable way she provides it.

“A business person is not supposed to get annoyed, she says with a smile. “If you get annoyed, you don’t make any money.”

And making money is definitely what Jokudo has a knack for. When she was a young girl she sold tea by the side of the road; when she got older she brought sugar from Uganda so she could sell it in Sudan at a marked up price. With the money she made from selling the sugar she was finally able to open a small shop on the side of the road selling drinks and biscuits.

“I was selling things here when someone from the RRP came and asked if I would be interested in participating in a business training programme and receiving a loan,” she says. “I was ready to go.”

Jokudo was trained in business skills and microfinance and the RRP microcredit loan she received helped her make the leap from petty trader to shop owner. After receiving her loan of 1500 SDGs she was able to expand her store and sell more items.

“I learned that selling many things will earn more money – rather than just selling one type of thing. I check which things finish first and restock them. If customers go to other shops to find something I don’t have I take note of what it is and make sure I order it.”

Jokudo makes payments on her loan once a month and now has 240 pounds left to pay until her debt is clear. Her exemplary record has earned her another loan; this time of
12, 000 pounds from Sudan Microfinance Institution (SUMI) a private microfinance company that has agreed to give larger sums to traders who have proven to be reliable under the RRP.

“Since the training I have made enough money to pay for my four children to go to school in Uganda where there is a better education. I also bought a generator, a TV and some cows,” she says. “With the new loan I would like to buy a fridge,” she says as she he dips her hand into the plastic cooler to pass her next customer a bottle of coke, and breaks into a wide smile.

Organic RRP Honey a Sweet Success

“We believe that honey is medicine,” says 38-year-old Panuel Lorwue.

And since the RRP introduced modern hives and trained beekeepers on how to safely harvest; this sweet nectar is not only healing bodies, but also the economy of Central Equatoria.

As a young boy Lorwue would follow his older brother as he collected pieces of bamboo and tied them together with local grass. They would leave these traditional hives deep in the forest and come back late at night when they would light a torch and start fires to disturb the bees out of their hives and collect the honey.

“Sometimes we would work through the whole night, says Lorwue. “We would get swarmed by bees and they were very aggressive; we could get stung up to 50 times.”

But since the RRP honey harvesting training programme began in 2006, collecting honey has become much easier and this traditional activity has transformed into a lucrative business.

“I heard from the one of the villagers about a group of people training beekeepers to harvest during the day without using fire, says Lowue. “I was curious to see if this was true or not so I went to find out.”

He saw that honey harvesters were given modern hives and trained how to use slow smoke to cut off the bees communication rather than using a fire to burn the hives. In addition to this they were given and taught how to use protective clothing for honey collecting. Since the training, the collectors have learned how to safely produce clean, pure honey. The modern equipment provided by RRP ensures that the honey meets international standards of quality; and is marketable.

“The honey is very popular around here because of word of mouth,” says Matheu Ndote, an RRP team member, who stands inside a honey collection centre on the side of the road; where there are huge buckets of RRP honey waiting to be purchased.

“Some of this will go to Juba, and some to the Wonduruba market,” he says. “The rest is available to be sold elsewhere.”

Now that they have modern hives to work with they can produce honey often; and the yield is plenty.

“In terms of production there is an extremely high potential,” adds Ndote. “We are looking at international market standards not just local standards. Branding and marketing, these are the steps that are left, to complete the success of this project.”

For Lowue, the success was complete when he saved enough money to send his son to school in Yei. He had wanted to be able to do this for years.

“Honey is a superfood,” he says. “We eat it everyday and now it is doing more than keeping us strong; it is providing our families with income we didn’t have before.”


Other RRP News :

- We are pleased to announce that on Aug 2 and 3 Aljazeera aired two stories about RRP community farming and fishing projects in Red Sea State. Click on the links below to see the stories.
* Arbaat community farms
* Arbaat fishing project

- Also in August, SOS Sahel became the new lead agency for the RRP consortium in Red Sea State.
- In Gogrial East, a two month comprehensive computer training for 40 LGA officials and local NGO and CBO staff was conducted.
- In Renk, ten senior members of five CBOS received management training so that they will be better equipped to take over the RRP projects when the programme phases out.
- Five trainings in peace building, leadership, human rights and role of CBOs in development were conducted in Giessan locality. One hundred and fifty community members benefited from the training.