Women farmers promote food security in North Kordofan
In Bara, a locality in North Kordofan that encompasses 90 tiny villages, the greenery can be deceptive. The flat desert sprawls for miles around, dotted with tiny villages where the only colors to be seen are the bright clothes of women coming back from their weekly trip to the central market of Bara town.
A group of women is all smiles as they go through their record books and count the revenue gained from their community’s horticultural gardens and livestock production. These activities have offered them major opportunities to promote food security and improve their livelihoods, a big contrast from the past, when women had less economic value.
“We succeeded. Women are keener than men on community-related matters. Managing horticultural gardens is mostly done by women as men and youth are engaged in the gold mining rush currently flaring up in a number of places in North Kordofan and elsewhere in the country.” Says Igbal Bakri, a 49-year old mother of three children and head of the women’s village committee.
In the past few years, communities have been suffering from the effects of climate change, resulting in increased heat, dune encroachment, water scarcity, and diminishing crop yields and livestock production year after year.
Hafiz Eldouri is the director of the Agriculture Department of Bara locality and assistant director of the “Building Communities’ Resilience to Climate Change” project jointly implemented by the Higher Council for Environment and Natural Resources (HCENR) and the UNDP.
- In Bara Locality, North Kordofan State, communities have been suffering from the effects of climate change, resulting in increased heat, dune encroachment, water scarcity, and diminishing crop yields and livestock production year after year
- Diversification of activities is one of the most effective practices for increasing the resilience of the community to harsh climatic conditions.
- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) places more emphasis on community-led interventions to strengthen people’s resilience with focus on improved livelihood options, sustainable natural resource use, and conflict prevention.
Based on his experience as one of the inhabitants of this area who lived through successive years of drought, he explains “Provision of energy substitutes and water sources for livestock and horticultural gardens have spared women time and enabled them to stand against the major cause of their vulnerability, drought. It has brought about a general increase in their adaptive capacity amid harsh climatic conditions through production of vegetables, fruits, and livestock for house hold consumption and income generation.”
Livelihoods Severely Affected
North Kordofan State is located in Central Sudan in the woodland savannah on sand. Livelihoods depend on rain-fed agriculture including herding, farming, forestry and Gum Arabic production. But the state suffers from extreme fluctuations in rainfall, which generally vary from 150-450 mm/year, resulting in livelihoods that are severely affected by frequent drought cycles.
UNDP Environment Officer Hanan Mutwakil highlights the impact of climate change on livelihoods “Severe climatic conditions and land mismanagement have caused poor vegetation coverage and the loss of endemic woody and range plants species that were once dominant.”
To increase the resilience of communities vulnerable to the impact of climate change and to support these communities in fighting the vicious cycle of drought and loss, UNDP has established a new initiative entitled “Building Communities’ Resilience for Climate Change”.
UNDP, with support from the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF), has also supported HCENR in developing the National Adaptation Plan of Action (NAPA), which led to the initiation of community-level activity piloting in 40 rural villages across four states in Sudan: North Kordofan, South Darfur, River Nile, and Gedarif.
The NAPA processes revealed that the most vulnerable groups in North Kordofan State are those living in Bara locality. 90 villages are located in the Bara Basin with estimated populations of 18000 persons; out of these villages, seven were targeted by the UNDP/LDCF project aiming to increase the capacity of the Sudanese government and local communities to take informed, equitable and gender-sensitive action on climate change.
“My Community Has Benefited”
As part of the diversification package, energy substitutes in the form of butane gas cylinders and stoves were distributed to reduce the pressure on biomass which is used for provision of domestic energy.
“My entire community, women and men has benefited from all the good services provided by the project team. The team provided us with energy substitutes through the distribution of gas cylinders and cooking stoves, which is a good practice that reduces our demands for tree cutting for cooking and charcoal making, reduces cooking time and spares us time to perform other duties. In fact, the cost of filling a butane gas cylinder for SDG30 is less than the cost of buying a sack of charcoal for SDG100.” says Igbal joyfully.
To date, the project has distributed 72 full units of gas cylinders and stoves in the 3 villages of Foja, Abu Dalam, Elhumra, at a cost of SDG500 each. The project contributes SDG200 while community members repay in ten-month installments at SDG30 per month.
Indeed, as Igbal said, women are not the only ones benefiting from these developments. Men have the lion’s share of generated returns from the project measures that improved livestock production and marketing. Both men and women have benefited from increased awareness and capacity building on animal vaccination and treatment that are necessary for improving livestock productivity, since disease prevalence and spread has escalated as a result of climate change. These activities have improved sheep and goat productivity and increased generated income by value addition through fattening.
Mohamed Ahmed Koko, a 65 year-old farmer is a good example of those who have benefited from the project’s livestock activities, “Now a sheep that was worth SDG500 can be sold for up to SDG1300 after just 45 days of fattening and vaccinations. My sheep are healthier now; out of the 50 sheep I own, nine of them have delivered twins.”
Diversification of activities is contributing to communities’ resilience
- Three horticultural gardens were established in three villages with a well-established irrigation system. Cucumber, okra, arugula, potato and tomato, in addition to lemon, guava, and grapefruit are being produced by community members and sold in the local market as well as nearby areas.
- Nurseries were established in three villages producing 19,000 seedlings in 2011-2012 with a total contribution of 181 farmers. Women constituted the majority of participating farmers in village nursery activity, with 135 women (74.6%) compared to 46 men (25.4%).
- With contribution from the Forestry Corporation Nurseries of Bara and El Basheiri localities 300,000 tree Seedlings were planted in the seven villages on open sand dune areas and for live fencing of horticultural gardens.