More water, better lives for Sudanese farmers

More water, better lives for Sudanese farmers
Aisha heads a farm run by women in Arabaat, Sudan. (Photo: Karen Ringuette/UNDP)

Until recently, farmers in northeast Sudan used to rely solely on rainfall for their subsistence crops, despite fertile land and groundwater close to the surface.


  • 300 recovery projects benefiting 800,000 people were implemented throughout Sudan.
  • UNDP partnered with 44 NGOs working together across 10 locations.
  • 2,400 farmers were provided with various tools to improve their productivity, including seeds and small-scale irrigation schemes.

“There is a big difference now,” said Aisha Sharief, who heads a farm run by women in the rural community of Arabaat. “Nowadays we have permanent irrigation and alternate crops like sorghum and vegetables.” She also grows tomatoes, okra and arugula, which are sold at markets in Port Sudan, 30 kilometres away from her farm.

Sharief is one of approximately 800,000 who continue to benefit from the five-year Recovery and Rehabilitation Programme implemented across Sudan at the end of the civil war in 2005. The programme supported recovery of rural communities and focused primarily on improving livelihoods, providing access to basic services such as healthcare and education, and vocational training.

In Arabaat, some 37 farms were supplied with generators and water pumps, allowing farmers to tap into rich groundwater sources and cultivate vegetables and other crops all year round.

Hussein Musa is in charge of getting the farmers’ produce to the market, and he believes their situation has improved. “In the past, some people had access to wells but they were run by merchants who took 50 percent of the profits, and the farmers earned little. Now each farm has a well.”

As part of the programme, farmers also participated in management training and formed the Arabaat Development Association, enabling them to pool resources and supervise other development initiatives such as projects in water provision and fisheries.

The Association also welcomes the active participation of women. “Previously, women were not represented in leadership but now they are part of the way we do business,” said Aisha Sharief. “Though earnings remain modest, most families have doubled their revenue,” she added.

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