IFAD to fund Kordofan farmers, pastoralists

16 February (IRIN)

An estimated 200,000 households in the impoverished central Sudanese region of Kordofan are to benefit from a new programme by the UN's International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Farhana Haque-Rahman, IFAD's chief of media relations, said in a press statement on Monday.

The loan agreement was signed by Lennart Bage, president of IFAD, and Magzoub El Khalifa, the Sudanese federal minister of agriculture, at IFAD headquarters in Rome.

IFAD, the statement said, would provide more than half the financing for the Western Sudan Resources Management Programme, with a loan of about US $25.5 million.

According to Haque-Rahman, resource management, which was a source of conflict in the past, is the central element of the eight-year programme. Various activities will be undertaken to regulate land and water use, thus helping to reinforce stability in the region.

A land-use plan, drawn up in consultation with local pastoralists and farming communities, as well as regional authorities, would be incorporated in forthcoming land-tenure legislation.

The new programme was designed to support the comprehensive peace agreement signed on 9 January by the Sudanese government and the Southern People's Liberation Army/Movement, particularly concerning provisions for wealth- and power-sharing with regard to land tenure reform and decentralisation.

Focused on 17 stock routes and six markets in the area, the release said the project would directly benefit some 44,000 settled, and 7,000 pastoralist households. A new scheme would build on the progress made by projects already underway, both of them partly financed by IFAD, in north and south Kordofan.

With a poverty rate of 50-70 percent, Kordofan, which borders the war-torn region of Darfur, is one of the poorest parts of Sudan. Until five years ago, its southern area was embroiled in conflict.