Fight Famine in Sudan with Emergency Relief

by Near East Foundation (NEF)

Sudan’s South Kordofan state erupted into conflict in June 2011. The conflict left an estimated 75,000 individuals displaced.  In a primarily agricultural region, farmers worried about how they would cultivate crops and feed their families once they were able to return home.

NEF has been on the ground since farmers began to return to their land in the Fall of 2011.  Through its emergency farming project, NEF supported 300 farmers in planting and harvesting crops.  This has assured food security for families in a region otherwise threatened by famine. We thank you for your interest in and generous support of this important project

With the humanitarian situation in South Kordofan beginning to stabilize, NEF will be focusing its attention on its more long-term development efforts in Sudan. NEF continues to support the development of a sustainable peace in the region through its on-going work to strengthen the livelihoods of ex-combatants in the region. NEF also works with farmers in North Kordofan to conserve natural resources and foster peace through training in sustainable gum Arabic harvesting techniques and training in conflict management. 

For more information on this project and to continue to support NEF’s important work in Sudan, visit our project titled “Support Farmers and Fight Poverty in Sudan.”





The Near East Foundation is a U.S.-based international development NGO leading innovative social and economic change in the Middle East and Africa. Founded in 1915, NEF has worked to empower citizens in disadvantaged, vulnerable communities for almost 100 years. NEF field staff - all of them from the countries in which they work - partner with local organizations to find grassroots solutions to their development challenges. Our comprehensive "knowledge, voice, and enterprise" approach is helping build more prosperous, inclusive communities throughout the region. To learn more visit

The harvest.
The harvest.

As a result of the conflict and on-going instability in South Kordofan, farmers never thought they would be able to cultivate crops this year.  They worried how they would feed and support their families. 

But, over the past two months, 300 farmers supported by the emergency relief project have successfully been able to harvest crops—after receiving seeds and cultivation support through the project. These crops will provide needed sustenance for families in the region, which continues to belplagued by instability.

The harvest period in South Kordofan typically runs between mid-October and January.  Most farmers supported through the emergency project sought to finish harvesting their crops in October.  The conflict and on-going instability in the region have reduced the land available to both farmers and herders—increasing conflict as nomadic groups try to move their animals through cultivated land.  In order to protect their product, farmers sought to harvest their crops as early as possible. Tractors were used to assist participating farmers in the harvest.

Average productivity of planted crops ranged between 2-5 sacks per fedan (a fedan is equal to approximately 1 acre). The project team will continue to provide extension support to participating farmers. 

Harvesting sorghum.
Harvesting sorghum.
In the fields.
In the fields.
Farming Group at Participatory Extension Meeting
Farming Group at Participatory Extension Meeting

Since June 6, 2011, conflict and aerial bombings have rocked South Kordofan – a state on Sudan’s border with the newly independent South Sudan. Thousands of families have been displaced by the conflict; a July situation report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Relief estimated that over 73,000 individuals were displaced. 

While intermittent conflict and violence continues in much of the state, relative stability has returned to some areas (particularly in the North) and families have begun to return to these regions.  However, valuable crop planting time has been lost—and many farms were looted of their tools, seeds, and other goods necessary for planting.  As a result, families face food insecurity and the real threat of shortages in both the short and long term. 

Severe restrictions on international humanitarian organizations remain in South Kordofan. The Near East Foundation (NEF) has maintained operations through its office in Dilling—one of the only international NGOs to remain. As the situation has begun to stabilize in the north of the state, NEF has moved from relief support to working with partners to ensure the food security of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and returnees through emergency farming support.

In coordination with the South Kordofan Rural Development Program (SKRDP) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, NEF is working with vulnerable farming communities in Al Samma West, Al Samma East, and Al Shaeer in South Kordofan.

Over the past months, the emergency farming project has:

  • Mobilized 300 vulnerable farm families for participation in the project.
  • Cultivated 1,500 fedans of land (5 fedans per family).  A fedan is approximately equal to an acre.  The SKRDP hired three tractors to plow the land in each of the targeted sites.
  • Weeded land to contribute to crop cultivation.
  • Distributed 4.5 tons of certified sorghum seeds to beneficiaries.
  • Formed and strengthened farming groups.
  • Provided extension services to farmers to promote improved knowledge, skills, and understanding of improved farming technologies that will contribute to attaining food security.

Farmers have expressed their commitment to the project and have recognized its importance to supporting their food security and livelihoods. Although the project has operated on a limited scale in South Kordofan, it has gained a positive reputation and encouraged IDPs to return to the area and farm again. 

NEF will continue working with partners to provide ongoing support for farmers to ensure their food security this harvest season.

Tractor hired for cultivation of the land
Tractor hired for cultivation of the land
Land preparation and sowing practice
Land preparation and sowing practice
Farming Group Extension Meeting
Farming Group Extension Meeting

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Organization Information

Near East Foundation (NEF)

Location: Syracuse, NY - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Sarah Peterson
Program Officer
Syracuse, NY United States

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