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, Sudan, Senegal, Jordan, Lebanon, Mali, Morocco, Palestinian Territories and Egypt-where we work to directly improve the lives of tens of thousands of vulnerable people through programs in peacebuilding, civic engagement, 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 o...
Jul 13, 2012

Farmer Income Increases Dramatically in Sudan

Participating gum Arabic farmers increased their incomes by an average of 200 to 350 Sudanese Pounds, or as much as $130 per family, after implementing new harvesting techniques learned through a Near East Foundation (NEF) project to improve livelihoods. 

NEF is introducing the new harvesting techniques – as well as water management strategies and other simple agricultural technologies – to help gum Arabic farmers in Sudan break the poverty cycle, fight climate change, and conserve natural resources.

The recent, successful harvest in North Kordofan improved income for small-scale farmers while simultaneously expanding Acacia forest cover in the dry forest ecosystem where gum Arabic is produced.

To date, this NEF project has led 184 community-driven and community-financed activities to reduce pressure on Acacia woodlands.  Activities are strengthening the rural economy and building sustainability in the forest ecosystems upon which rural livelihoods depend.

All of the participating Gum Arabic Producer Associations have now reported that they own protected forest areas around their villages.  In these protected areas there is no arbitrary cutting of trees and no overgrazing.

The impact has extended to many neighboring villages (not trained or targeted by the project), which have received informal training from the leadership of participating Associations.  After learning about the successful strategies, these neighboring villages have applied similar protection policies in their villages.

NEF is now preparing to provide communities with additional Acacia seedlings in the upcoming planting season, working in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture.

Your support to vulnerable gum Arabic farmers in North Kordofan helps build peace and promote sustainable livelihoods in Sudan.  Thank you!

May 16, 2012

Forty Women Create New Income Source

In 2012, 40 Palestinian women have successfully established market gardens after receiving supplies and training from the Near East Foundation (NEF).  Each of the women is the sole income provider for her family.  This project is helping the women launch their own businesses growing thyme, an herb traditionally used in the Palestinian Territories and surrounding region, to create a sustainable source of income that will both improve life for families and help stimulate the local economy. 

The project will impact an increasing number of women as the 40 participants share their new knowledge and skills with others.

After the distribution of thyme seedlings in January 2012, NEF experts conducted field visits and training sessions for the 40 women who live in four villages in the Jordan Valley.  During the first field visit in January, the NEF team monitored the newly planted farms for quality assurance in such areas as appropriate distance between plants and proper watering conditions.

In April, the 40 participating women harvested their first thyme crop.  Because the herbs are newly-planted and not yet matured, the small yield of this first cut will be used for home cooking, dried for tea, and stored for medicinal purposes.

In four or five months, the women will harvest again.  Their plants will have taken root and matured, and the larger yield will be sold at the local market, providing the women with the first monetary profit from their gardens.

One of the women participating in the project is Im Adel.  She is from the village of Nassariyeh and has four children living at home.  Although she has spent most of her life as a farmer on her family olive and cucumber farm, her thyme garden is her first self-run and self-owned project.  Im Adel wakes at 3 a.m. daily to pray, prepare breakfast for the children, and feed the sheep - all before she leaves to tend her flourishing thyme garden.  When asked how she feels abour her growing seedlings she replied, "I'm glad because I am the one who planted them, the one who cares for them.  I watch them grow - they are like my children."

After attending the training session on how to properly trim seedlings, Im Adel was skeptical of the new techniques.  But she quickly saw the results of following the NEF training methods, and has since shared her new knowledge with other women in the village.

Amneh, also from Nassariyeh, is raising her brother's children by herself.  As the first harvest for market sale approaches, Amneh is planning to use the money she earns to buy school supplies and toys for her nephews.

The women will continue to advance their knowledge in horticulture and agriculture through an NEF agreement with the Palestinian Center for Agricultural Research and Development, which will lead ongoing trainings for the women. 

Apr 16, 2012

New market gardens improve food security, increase incomes by over 50%

Market gardener in Mali
Market gardener in Mali

The significance of NEF’s work in northern Mali has taken on new meaning in the light of recent events. The lives of the people we serve have been thrown into turmoil by prolonged drought and now a coup d'etat and occupation by Touareg rebels. NEF's support in agricultural development – and the development of non-conventional water resources – enables greater self-reliance and stability in the face of this turmoil.

With NEF support, farmers groups in northern Mali have capture new water sources – in many cases distant springs in the escarpments above their villages – to set up market gardens. Through these gardens, NEF has helped build capacity in agricultural production techniques and contributed to improving food and financial security. Since late 2011, NEF has supported ten villages to establish market gardens, benefiting nearly 700 households and over 7,500 men, women, and children.

In these gardens, villages cultivate crops including shallot, garlic, eggplant, tomatoes, beets, peppers, okra, and potatoes, amounting to an estimated total production of almost 60,000 kilograms. These crops have a value of over $40,000. Since late 2011, average cash income for the families has already increased by 58 percent.

The gardens produce food for household consumption as well as food for sale. Families are now able to save money on their food expenses because of the food they produce in their gardens. Between the new income from sales and the new savings from household consumption of vegetables, participating families are experience an effective average increase of 108 percent in household revenue.

Helping communities develop non-conventional water resources – particularly spring catchment and rainwater harvesting – is a cornerstone of NEF’s effort to promote food security in the face of climate change.  Along with very simple infrastructure development, NEF supports partner communities with organizing producer groups and building their technical skills in water management and agricultural productivity. Over the past 25 years, NEF’s efforts have helped dramatically improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across northern Mali.

Starting to plant
Starting to plant
Starting to plant
Starting to plant
A family endeavor
A family endeavor
Expanding a garden
Expanding a garden
Recently established garden
Recently established garden

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