Concern Worldwide is an Irish based international development and humanitarian organisation, whose mission is to help people living in extreme poverty, achieve major improvements in their lives that last and spread without ongoing support from Concern. In Sudan, Concern supports conflict-affected communities in West Darfur, West and South Kordofan states.
Concern has secured funding from the European Union Trust Fund (EUTF) to implement a three-year project known as, Building Resilient communities in West Kordofan (BRICK) in West Kordofan state. The aim of the project is to strengthen communities’ resilience to shocks and stresses, especially the most vulnerable households, within Abyei-Muglad, Keilak and Meriam localities. The programme will be implementedby a consortium consisting of Concern and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNCIEF) in partnership with National NGO partners and in collaboration with the relevant State Ministries in West Kordofan state. In this integrated project, UNICEF will support Education and WASH sectors, while Concern and its partners will intervene in health, nutrition, food security, and livelihoods sectors.
Concern ensures that technical standards and guidelines are followed in the implementation of its projects. This includes empowering staff and communities with the technical knowledge to achieve the project results. Therefore, Concern plans to develop Farmer Field Schools (FFS) and Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) manuals to be used by frontline staff. The manuals support the rollout of CSAandFFSactivities at the community level to improve agricultural practices and better prepare communities to manage shocks and stresses.
Climate Smart Agriculture.
In the BRICK project, Concern will support communities to manage risks, stresses and shocks that affect their livelihoods. The major shocks and stresses in West Kordofan state are mainly climate related,such as droughts, extended dry spells, floods and seasonal rainfall variability. Increasing people’s capacity to adapt their food production systems to these effects of climate change is vital to increasing their food security and resilience. Promoting Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) is one way to help people do this. CSA is a set of farming practices contextualised to the specific climate risks of a given agro-ecological context, focusing on sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes while adapting and building resilience to climate change and reducing the emission of greenhouse gasses. CSA features prominently in Concern’s food security programme in Sudan as a core element of its resilience strategy. Concern has produced several documents, technical briefs and position papers on CSA defining CSA and explaining how it fits within Concern’s wider strategy of supporting the extreme poor. Through this consultancy, Concern plans to produce a CSA manual tailored to the local context and appropriate to the needs of the frontline staff working in the BRICK programme in particular and other interventions across Sudan.
The CSA promotion in the BRICK programme will focus on the following areas:
The promotion and multiplication of improved (drought-tolerant) seed varieties for sorghum and pearl millet;
Improved agronomic practices around plant spacing, planting date, and weed management;
Integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) to improve soil fertility combined with soil and water conservation techniques such as Conservation Agriculture (CA);
Integrated pest management (IPM) to manage crop pests and diseases;
Post-harvest management (PHM) techniques for safe storage of crops produced;
Farmer Field Schools (FFS)
The Farmer Field School (FFS) approach was developed from the experience that farmers learn better, when they take part in their own learning and make observations in the field. The approach combines both the ecology and non-formal education to afford farmers opportunity to learn about their farming, share experiences, besides learning from each other. The FFS approach empowers the community as it is “learning by doing”, thus enabling farmers to be in charge of their education and strengthen their capacity in making key decisions in their farming activities.
The farmers learning under the FFS approach have the opportunity to choose the methods of production through exploration and discovery. The FFS approach also called “schools without walls”is generally composed of a group of farmers who meet regularly during the course of the crop season to explore different farming practices. By so doing, farmers have the opportunity to test new technologies in their own fields, assess performance and their relevance in particular circumstances. A field school should therefore be viewed as a process of learning and in itself is not a goal.
Concern’s plans to use the FFS approach to increase the uptake of different agricultural technologies under the BRICK project. The project will engage the services of 30 extension workers (frontline staff) who will be expected to work with farmers to establish FFS and facilitate their learning throughout the learning cycle. In order to do this, a need has arisen to develop a user manual on the FFS guidelines to be used by the frontline staff to support the farmers.
The contents of the FFS manual should logically flow according to the normal crop growing cycle, including the following areas:
Principles of FFS.
Materials needed for the establishment of a FFS.
Starting a FFS
Running a FFS.