Residents of an NEF partner community are pictured with gas tanks purchased through their new microcredit fund. Gas tanks provide an alternative source of fuel that reduces reliance on wood, thereby protecting local forests. The tanks also allow women to spend considerably less time collecting wood – giving them more time to participate in other activities.
Khartoum, Sudan (February 7, 2013) — In Sudan’s North Kordofan State, communities participating in a Near East Foundation (NEF) project to improve livelihoods continue to benefit from important skills and opportunities gained through NEF training and support – in spite of growing challenges in the region.
A total of 24 new projects have been launched by community members in four villages in recent months. Combined with an average 20% increase in gum arabic production, some farmers have increased their incomes by as much as 900 Sudanese Pounds (SDG) – or $200 – per month.
Income-generating activities are supported by a microcredit fund that NEF helped establish. The fund provides community members with financing to undertake activities that improve production and protect local gum arabic (acacia) trees.
The microcredit loans have a high rate of repayment. When the funds are repaid, more money can be lent to community members for additional projects that improve livelihoods.
These improvements come at a critical time in NEF partner communities. Because of ongoing conflict in neighboring South Kordofan State, many nomads and pastoralists have traveled to North Kordofan – placing an increased strain on their natural resources.
NEF’s work with gum arabic producer associations in North Kordofan has developed the capacity of participating communities to constructively manage and protect their community’s natural resources. There is a growing public awareness about the importance of acacia trees, and the communities continue to establish protected forest areas around their villages – improving the sustainability of their natural resources in the long-term.
The Near East Foundation is a U.S.-based international development NGO leading innovative social and economic change in the Middle East and Africa for almost 100 years. Founded in 1915, NEF has helped build more sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive communities through education, governance, and economic development initiatives. NEF field staff – all of them from the countries in which they work – partner with local organizations to implement grassroots solutions and build “knowledge, voice, and enterprise.” To learn more visit www.neareast.org.