IRW is an international non-governmental organisation based in Birmingham, UK. It has been providing relief work in Sudan since 1991. Its activities cover the states of Blue Nile, North Kordofan, South Kordofan, West Darfur and Central Darfur.
IRW has been working in West Darfur since 2004 when the conflict broke out. The IRW Director, Ibrahima Chalari, spoke to The Niles about the organisation’s work and the major challenges it faces.
What areas do you cover in Darfur?
IRW has been working in Darfur since 2004. We provide services in four key areas: water, education, health, and handicrafts that generate income and improve people’s living conditions. We work in West Darfur in the IDP camps of Krinding 1 and Krinding 2 and some areas around Geneina, where we offer services for the displaced and host communities, like Amiriyah and An Doyn.
We also operate in some rural areas, such as Gokar and Molly in Geneina District, and in Krenk District, where we provide services to herdsmen and farmers. Our services also cover the repatriates in Sullu, Tandossa, and Fur Baranga.
Do you work in other parts of Darfur?
In 2012, we expanded our work to include Nertiti District in Central Darfur, where large numbers of displaced people exist, as it has been receiving the least humanitarian aid since the expulsion of many organisations in 2009.
With funding from the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and the Swiss Agency for Development, IRW provided water and health services to around 40,000 persons in that region where we also provide basic health services in IDP camps in Tor, and the camps of the 7th Sector, North, Khor, Ramlah and Dabanga.
What do you do in these regions?
Since 2004, in the field of water, IRW offered training on well drilling and excavation and tanker construction. Those efforts have contributed to drilling 276 wells and rehabilitating 347 others using the IRW equipment in the districts of Geneina and Krenk in West Darfur.
In the area of environmental protection and promotion of public health, IRW has overseen teacher training techniques and experiences, aimed to promote awareness among schoolchildren, and involve the community itself in maintaining public health.
IRW has also introduced clean water testing services in West Darfur, at Krinding Camp and Geneina District. Those efforts have remarkably contributed to improving environmental health and raising public awareness there. For example, 92% of the displaced people can now have access to clean water and use properly built latrines.
With funding by UNICEF, we build the capacity of communities. A Water Association has been set up for regulating water distribution, against small fees to cover some charges, in addition to maintenance training programs.
In addition, IRW builds ground water reservoirs and storage tankers, especially following IRW’s introducing of solar energy application to replace the hand pumps in some rural areas in Krenk and Geneina districts.
In educational field, IRW has established and fully sponsored Massakani Middle School at Krinding Camp. During 2012, this school graduated 117 female students and 148 male students. Displaced children could not reach high school stage before their arrival at the camp.
In partnership with UNICEF and the Ministry of Social Welfare, IRW has conducted a survey and an evaluation of the educational conditions of children with special needs in about 38 schools in the state. Accordingly, 50 teachers received training on how to provide psychosocial support for special need children.
IRW cooperates with community radio station in Geneina for providing awareness programmes about the importance of educating and upgrading the skills of disabled children.
In the area of rural development and income-generating projects, IRW has contributed to setting up special income-generating projects for men and women, especially in IDP camps. They were trained on making sand bricks and latrines. At present, some young people produce materials used for building schools and latrines for a large number of people.
In this same context, IRW has established a centre for displaced women, and trained them on how to develop handicrafts and earn sustainable sources of income through baking bread and producing yoghurt, cookies, henna, and numerous other handicrafts and leather products.
The centre provides an adequate place for displaced women to exchange views and consult each other about how to develop income sources and organise themselves. It also provides a pretty good communication platform between them and other women from the host communities. This project has contributed to generating income for about 2,350 displaced women in Krinding 2 Camp.
IRW has also contributed to resolving disputes between the refugees and the host communities on the one hand, and the herdsmen and farmers on the other. This project has sponsored the creation of a tribal reconciliation committee and the training of various leaderships on how to run this committee and manage dialogue and communication, aimed to support coexistence and co-management of natural living sources.
As regards primary health care, IRW services cover Krinding 2 Camp; the areas of Gokar, Molly, Sullu, Tandossa; and the camps in Nertiti, in addition to the services provided to the repatriates, where IRW combats major diseases and improves the environment. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health and WHO, IRW offers services to about 56,000 people in these areas, and accords special attention to developing the professional skills of medical staffs in its centres.
Has IRW played any role in the anti-yellow fever campaigns in Darfur?
We have provided support in collaboration with government agencies and relevant organisations. However, our efforts have been limited to logistical support and some other areas of assistance, such as vehicles for transporting medical personnel and citizens, syringes, gloves and medical clothing.
Have you had any shortage of medicines at any time?
We only provide primary health care, and at this level we have never had shortages. As for second-degree cases, we refer them to public hospitals.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
How to sustain the provision of our assistance while we are in the process of moving from an emergency to a reconstruction phase, especially under the lack of funding associated with overburdening the donors due to prolonged work in Darfur.