Near East Foundation (NEF)

Founded in 1915, the Near East Foundation's mission is to help build more sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive communities in the Middle East and Africa through education, governance, and economic development initiatives. NEF is an operational NGO with projects in seven countries -- Armenia, Egypt, Jordan, Mali, Morocco, Palestine, and Sudan -- where we work to directly improve the lives of tens of thousands of vulnerable people through programs in Peacebuilding, Civic Engagement and Education, Sustainable Agriculture, and Business Development. In the field, approximately 50 NEF staff members-all of them from the countries in which they work-partner with local organizations to find homeg...
Jul 15, 2013

Over 200 Gum Arabic Producers Receive Support

What do soft drinks, cake mixes, mascara, fireworks, and watercolor paints have in common?  It is likely they all use gum arabic – an effective stabilizer harvested from the Acacia Senegal tree.  This natural substance has been collected from acacia trees since antiquity.

Sudan is one of the top producers of gum arabic in the world, and the production of this commodity is booming.  Smallholder farmers, however, often lack the skills and knowledge to fully benefit from this trade.  The Near East Foundation’s project in Sudan’s North Kordofan State has had considerable impact on gum arabic production and continues to expand to help more farmers better provide for their families and invest in their communities.

This year saw a significant increase in gum arabic production, as a result both of heavy rains last year and improved techniques by farmers. The project has helped farmers establish protected areas for Acacia Senegal trees.  As livestock is now kept out of these forests, the trees are able to grow fully – and farmers are able to harvest more gum.

The Near East Foundation is continuing to work with farmers to increase production even further. Over the past months, NEF has facilitated the distribution of seeds to 225 farmers in North Kordofan.  Each farmer received 1 pound of seeds—enough to cultivate 9 acres of land.  Acacia seedlings will be distributed at the end of July, at the height of the rainy season.

NEF is also providing a training to the Gum Arabic Producers Union in Umruwaba Locality in North Kordofan to support members in organizing, advocating for policy changes, marketing, and in managing the environment.  This institutional strengthening support was requested by the local union.  Over twenty union leaders (both male and female) have improved skills in leadership, gum production, and marketing – and will lead their communities to improved production and sales of gum arabic. 

Your support to vulnerable gum arabic farmers in North Kordofan-and the institutions that support them--helps to promote sustainable livelihoods in Sudan. Thank you! 

Jul 15, 2013

Nearly 30 Tons of Vegetables Produced

Food Security Improved in Rural Communities

An estimated 28.2 tons of vegetables have been produced in 2013 through NEF’s initiative to support smallholder farmers in Mali, where political instability, drought, and climate change have caused widespread hunger.

The combined monetary value of the crops is 7.05 million CFA francs (based on an average cost of 250 FCFA per kilogram on the local market).

This significant food production and cash income for farming families was made possible after NEF distributed—free of charge—1,775 kilograms of seeds in Mali this year and provided support through the growing process.

NEF has helped farmers in eight villages launch and operate market gardens where they sell a portion of their produce to meet community food needs and meet their own financial needs. Families eat the remaining portion of their produce at home.

Their new crops include potatoes, tomatoes, beets, cabbage, lettuce, and peppers. 

Overall, NEF’s market garden activities are contributing to a reduction in the exodus of young people and women from impoverished villages. We are also helping to improve household nutrition and to create a sustainable source of both food and income in rural areas.

In addition, NEF’s support is building the skills and capacity of participating farmers. In the past few months, we have organized seven group training sessions to share tools ranging from sustainable management of investments to good governance in farmers' organizations. Producers have also learned conservation strategies and ways to improve vegetable processing, including the use of drying techniques and storage boxes to better promote their products.

The villages in need where farmers are now producing vegetables with NEF support include: Bagui, Korientzé, N'Gorodia (rural town of Korombana), Dari, Deri (rural town of N'Diaptodji), Mounouwel, Kikara (rural town of Gandamia), and Gafity (rural town of Debere).

THANK YOU for supporting families in Mali as they recover from drought and occupation! YOU are improving their lives today and helping them build food security for the future!

Jul 15, 2013

Effort Launches to Economically Empower Women

NEF is making progress in the launch of our new initiative to economically empower women who are experiencing domestic violence in Armenia by helping them develop the capacity to financially support their families.

During the next 18 months, NEF and its local partners will support at least 50 Armenian women by providing them with training in job and advocacy skills, as well as assist them in securing employment. Our goal is to help the women achieve economic independence and provide them with alternatives to returning to abusive environments.

Recently we’ve conducted focus groups with potential participants to gain insight into their current skills and abilities, and to understand their motivation to work or to start a business.

We’re also nearing completion of a regional economic assessment and labor market assessment for the city of Yerevan.

Combined, these research efforts will help us determine the most viable business and job opportunities for women experiencing domestic violence in the urban and rural project areas. This information will help us design training and other activities that meet the women’s needs and provide them with skills that will match opportunities in the local job market.

We are introducing the initiative at events in Yerevan and additional cities, and discussing opportunities to collaborate with other programs that serve women.

Women’s entrepreneurship development is in its early stages in Armenia. Our work is at the forefront of these efforts and may provide a model and momentum for future initiatives to foster women’s economic empowerment.

THANK YOU for supporting this critical work to help women gain skills and find employment so they can build a new life for their families!

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