In the 1980s and 1990s, war and famine in Ethiopia and Eritrea flooded Gedaref with large numbers of refugees, many of whom still live in refugee camps. Agriculture is the main economic activity with around 80 per cent of the state’s population engaging in agriculture as some part of their livelihoods. Unsustainable harvesting techniques, overgrazing, overharvesting, slash-and burn agriculture, soil erosion spreading water-borne diseases like cholera, single crop use, climate change are major challenges faced by the area.
Financial impediments disproportionately affect women farmers, who often require hired labour to undertake heavy manual work. The central role of women in both economic development and food security is undervalued in Gedaref, as it is across much of Sudan.
Zenab for Women in Development mobilize and empower women, through the organization of local cooperatives into a larger union of women farmers. Established in 2005, the union has grown from 300 women in six communities to 3,000 women in 53 communities across the state of Gedaref, Sudan. The union provides a platform for women farmers to improve agricultural productivity and exchange good environmental practices. Training is provided in organic agriculture, crop rotation and the use of biological fertilizers. The organization has raised awareness of deforestation, distributed cooking gas to reduce the felling of trees for firewood, and engaged union members in reforestation and tree planting activities. In addition to strengthening the land tenure status of women, the initiative offers extensive health education programmes which raise awareness about maternal health, family planning, HIV and AIDS prevention, and female genital mutilation. Union revenues are invested in rural primary schools, sanitation services, and fresh water access projects.
Read more in the attached document.