SEATTLE — Sudan is a country where the poverty rate is almost 50 percent of the population. The UN Development Program made a commitment to lower the poverty rate in Sudan despite of serious conflicts and civil war. The program works to bring people affected by conflict together and start to make a better, economically secure life. Many of those targeted for the programs are women, refugees and former soldiers.
Some of the development plans include educating the Sudanese youth to share their knowledge with small villages, creating a vibrant beekeeping industry and developing a value chain integration project.
The UN Development plan sees the future of Darfur in the youth and the importance of empowering them. The focus area of educating the Sudanese youth to share their information is crisis prevention and recovery. The project targets young people who may or may not have graduated from a university. The war made it a challenge for people to fully pursue an education and has also made it difficult for people to get a job.
The initiative trains the youth in microfinance, green business planning and resource management. From here, the trainees go out into the Darfur communities, living with the people and teaching the people there. Through this, the villages learn the business strategies that help raise them out of poverty and make a better life after war.
Over 200 people have been trained with 120 people in 45 Darfur communities.
Another project part of the development program is the value chain integration project. The goal is to provide sustainable livelihoods, especially for women and children in rural areas. The project increases access to financial services and builds relationships with firms that can supply services as well providing studies in trade relationships.
This development program has the potential to create 100,000 job opportunities in 45 Darfur communities. There are 30,000 women participants within the 47 producer/processor associations formed to promote the trade and development of products like hibiscus, livestock, nuts and honey.
Incomes have increased significantly and so has crop yield. Some Hibiscus producers expect a 500 percent return on investment. Production of groundnuts has increased almost tri-fold from 105kg/acre to 307 kg.
Most successful, are the beekeepers. There are over 2000 beekeepers in Darfur compared to the 60 before the program started. The honey they harvest has a net value of US$ 3,780,724 and is quickly becoming desired in local and international markets. Beekeeping has become a reliable second income for many families with the help of a local NGO, in conjunction with the UN, that teaches about proper hive maintenance.
Overall, the UN Development in Darfur has brought economic security through creating partnerships between people in and across villages. There have been thousands of jobs created and incomes have increased, raising people out of extreme poverty. Most of all, there are new opportunities developing for people, like refugees, who saw their lives destroyed by war.
– Katherine Hewitt
Sources: UN Development Plan, UNDP 2, UNDP 3,
Photo: UNICEF USA