Active Citizens of Sudan celebrated the successful conclusion of the programme’s first phase in August 2010 with a well-attended ceremony. Here, SAPs address important issues affecting inhabitants of impoverished IDP settlements in the town of Al-Fat’h, near Khartoum.
Celebrating the successful completion of Active Citizens’ first phase in Al-Fat’h, representatives of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Sudanese Women Union, and other community-based organisations gathered for a lively event involving certificate-giving and speeches. It also received a very positive media response in Sudanese newspapers and radio interviews.
'At the moment we are preparing to start the second phase of the project, which includes exchange visits between the beneficiaries and their counterparts in Britain,' commented Mr Weyers.
Addressing the event, Country Director of the British Council Richard Weyers thanked the British Council's partners from the Government of Khartoum State, and commended the role played by the citizens of Al-Fat’h. He said he was proud of the project’s huge achievement and progress so far, adding that the British Council is keen to provide trust-building and social development activities within the community.
Meanwhile, Secretary General of the Peaceful Co-existence and Development Organization, Mohamed Yousif, commended Active Citizens for their local initiatives and also thanked the people of Al-Fat’h for cooperating in the creation of projects that benefit the wider community: 'The programme has created productive activities to the people and the area has positively changed,' he said.
Social action projects in IDP camps
Al-Fat’h is a vast and impoverished settlement outside Khartoum that is largely inhabited by internally displaced people who fled the country's recent civil war conflicts. Therefore the community here represents Sudan's multi-ethnic spectrum, including Nuba people, Afro-Arab tribes, Muslims and Christians. However, tensions frequently surface between different ethnic and religious groups, especially when competing for scarce resources such as water, sanitation and healthcare.
At present, such resources are largely provided by NGOs and the United Nations. In addition, electricity supplies are poor and transport is both inadequate and costly for the impoverished residents who wish to travel to Khartoum to find work.
Since its inception in Sudan in 2009, Active Citizens SAPs have focussed on the promotion of peaceful co-existence and sustainable, improved living conditions in Al-Fat’h. For example, various SAPs tackle issues on the environment, forestation, seating for school children, raising awareness on health issues, women’s empowerment, and energy substitutes.
In March 2010, a group of Welsh Active Citizens spent time living and working with peers in Al Fat’h where they participated in educational, environmental and cultural workshops for the local community. They also contributed to the ‘Intercultural Dialogue in Africa’ event hosted by the British Council in Khartoum. One exchange visitor, Ceri Weightman, had commented that '[The Al-Fat’h Active Citizens] seemed to get so much from life but also put so much into it. I learned to be more caring towards others since, truthfully, we are all one family.'
High hopes for the second phase
Speaking about the conclusion of the programme’s first phase, British Council Project Manager Tilal Salih told the newspaper Al-Ahdath: 'We were amazed by the way people in Al-Fat’h have interacted and cooperated throughout the project. They were enthusiastic and expressed eagerness to bring about positive change to their community. The project will be implemented in other areas including Kasala, Blue Nile, Port Sudan, and North Darfur States, where it will train local leaders and raise awareness of their needs.'
Rasha Al-Nur, an Active Citizens participant from Al-Fat’h, also told the newspaper that the programme has made 'a remarkable change' in her life and community. In addition she remarked that while the town has previously lacked essential government support, she is now hopeful that the needs of the community are being recognised and addressed as a result of the programme’s SAPs.