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Tilting the scales on food security and livelihoods for women farmers

11 May 2022


CAFOD’s visit to Fatima’s okra and molokhia farm. Credit: CAFOD

Fatima Hamad Saeed, a mother of five, smiles as she explains her life-changing journey from destitution to owning a small grocery shop in Sudan’s White Nile State. She achieved this through a livelihoods project implemented by the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), with support from the Sudan Humanitarian Fund.

“We ate all our seed reserves, and I was worried that we would not be able to plant our fields in 2021 because we had no seeds,” says Fatima, who is head of the household. She explained that although she knew the negative consequences of eating the remaining seeds, her only other option was starvation.

Fortunately things improved for Fatima and her family when they were one of 2,000 vulnerable households selected to receive seed vouchers from CAFOD, working through its national NGO partner Global Aid Hand (GAH). The vouchers, worth SDG4,100 (approximately US$9 at the time), were for use at a seeds fair that brought major seed suppliers to the El Salam locality in White Nile State. The approach, referred to as Diversity in Nutrition and Enhanced Resilience, or DiNER, also stimulated local seed markets, as the traders were from the same locality. 

Fatima in her shop. Credit: CAFOD.

The selected households were able to choose from a wide variety of seeds. Fatima used her vouchers to buy cucumber, okra and molokhia (jute mallow vegetable). At the end of the cropping season, she sold her produce at the local market and earned more than SDG60,000 (approximately $133), which was enough to establish a small grocery shop in her village. She now sells sugar, coffee, flour, onions, oil, spices, sweets and biscuits.

Fatima explains: “Through the support of this project, my life has changed from being a housewife who was worried about how my family would get the next meal, to a small business owner with an income that supports my family.” She also supports people in her village by allowing them to take items on loan from her grocery shop and pay when they have money.

CAFOD Programme Manager Yonathan Samuel Qama says their partnership with GAH enabled them to reach 2,000 food-insecure households with high-yielding improved seeds, contributing to improved crop productivity and increased livelihoods opportunities in four villages in the El Salam locality.

The project targeted female-headed households, people living with disabilities, or families with elderly people and without a reliable source of income.

In addition to the seeds, CAFOD offered trainings and technical advice in crop management and veterinary services, such as livestock vaccination and treatment. The DiNER project also established saving-and-lending committees and cash-for-work interventions related to flood preparation.

State, locality White Nile, El Salam locality
Amount $511,033
Sectors Food security and livelihoods
Implementing partner CAFOD- Catholic Agency for Overseas Development
Implementation period 01/07/2020-30/04/2021
Allocation type Standard allocation 2020