An innovative new project has enabled displaced women from Darfur in western Sudan, to move their lives on from living in abject poverty, forced on them because of conflict in Sudan, to becoming productive woman able to earn a living, because of a new development initiative, the Revival.
Naira Abdel Rahman Adam, and hundreds of other displaced women, have benefited from a symbiotic initiative launched by some of the region's residents, to help those displaced by Sudan’s civil war, to return to their homes and resume their life and work, especially in agriculture. The Revival initiative aims at reconstructing war-ravaged areas in the al-Malam region in South Darfur, and relocating its displaced population.
The inspiring initiative was launched by al-Tayyib Mohammed Abd al-Rasul, a Darfur resident, whose family and parents were displaced and relocated in camps. He, together with his wife and sister were abducted in 2003, but he was the only one to have been able to escape and survive.
Al-Tayeb Abdul Rasul was able to carry out several development projects in the area, including drilling wells for drinking water, and building and rehabilitating service centres in the health and education sector, with the help of some residents of Al-Malam area, including Lukman Ahmed, director of the BBC's Washington office. In addition, nearly 2,500 displaced families were relocated in their homes in Turba Wakila villages, according to the initiative's staff.
And the Al Mayaram Bank, a financial portfolio specialising in supporting small-scale women entrepreneurs and businesses, was set up to help women, who are often the hardest hit by wars which claim the lives of their menfolk.
Poverty Defeated by Limited Funding
Naira told 7Dnews that two years ago she received funding from Al Mayaram Bank worth 5,000 Sudanese pounds (about $80), which she invested in simple handicrafts such as ceramics, accessories and women's purses made of local leather.
She explained that she collected the returns on the investment in the autumn, then chanelled them into agriculture, where she was able to cultivate about 20 acres of peanuts, and sesame, millet and corn, and now is harvesting the crops to sell them. Naira expects to have a return of about 250,000 Sudanese pounds (about $3,000) which she will invest in consumer goods.
She said that she has trained a number of displaced women to make handicrafts, in order for them to obtain funding from the same bank that she did, and following the plan set by the staff of the Revival initiative.
The displaced are relocated in their homes
The Revival initiative is not just limited to supporting women and empowering them, through the Mayaram Bank, but extends to the revitalisation of all war-ravaged areas, in six localities in North and South Darfur states in western Sudan.
The initiative staff are seeking to implement development projects in the areas of Malam, Kila, Turba and Umm Dasho, worth $63 million, provided by the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah, and empower them economically in the areas recovering from unrest and conflict in Sudan.
Al Tayeb Mohammed Abdul Rasool, the initiator and financial advisor to the King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Foundation for Charity, told 7Dnews that their efforts are expected to bring a change to the lives of the displaced. "The idea started when we saw the conditions of those displaced by the war and we decided to take action to change their lives. Hence an idea originated to establish an organization through which we could bring support to development projects for the benefit of the people."
Abdul Rasool pointed out the establishment of the Malam Darfur Organization for Peace and Development, which was able to obtain financial support from King Abdullah International Foundation for Humanitarian Action, the American National Institute for the Support of Democracy, USAID, as well as assistance from local organisations.
A million grant brings hope to the displaced
In April 2018, the organisation received $63.3 million in grants from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) for projects it has prepared in a number of villages in the al-Malam locality in South Darfur, Abdul Rasoul said.
"These projects included a large hospital at a cost of $5 million, 22 primary and secondary schools, and a veterinary hospital. The projects also included the total rehabilitation of three villages destroyed by the war, as well as electrification for agricultural projects," Abdul Rasoul added.
A consulting engineering firm, Newtech, is now designing the projects in its various fields for bidding, and for contractor and engineering firms to kick off construction in the next few months. "Operations are expected to take five to six years, Abdul Rasoul said, adding that "now a contract has been signed with the consultant engineer to start planning and carrying out studies. After six months, he should report to the Islamic Development Bank, in the light of which tenders should be announced."
"We have given priority to the projects necessary for citizens, such as water sources, which will begin to be implemented immediately after the projects are studied and designed." He pointed out that the main challenges facing these projects are conflict and insecurity, calling on the government to build up infrastructures to protect citizens, such as police, legal and justice headquarters, to maintain security and establish the rule of law.
The initiative reweaves the social fabric
Darfur-based journalist, Hafez al-Masri, told 7Dnews that the initiative has not only been based on development projects, but has also extended to weave again the war-torn social fabric.
He stressed that the initiative's Peace Subcommittee had conducted community reconciliations among the residents of six regions in North and South Darfur states. This culminated last year with a comprehensive conference on peaceful coexistence, which was attended by the Sudanese vice president, and the governors of the two states and local officials.
Al-Masri said that the villages of Killa and Turba in Al-Malam regions were almost destroyed by the war, but the Revival had relocated 2,500 displaced families in their houses after they were rehabilitated, and service projects were completed.
Social peace and reconciliation was conducted in partnership with the US National Institute for Democracy Support, which, since 2014, has provided financial support to the activities of the Higher Peace Committee and peace ambassadors.
"What happened to our people who were displaced from their native towns for more than sixteen years has created a complex social and economic reality, that has deprived young people from continuing their education, and enjoying the opportunities of self-promotion available to their peers in Sudan and the world at large", Al-Masri said.
Translated by Hussam Abul Hadid