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Down to basics

Photos by Jenny Matthews

A traditional warm welcome of song and dance greets visitors arriving to see Sudanese Red Crescent activities in Thoura Mobi.

Sudan, the largest country in Africa in square kilometres, has many different cultures, languages and ethnic groups. However, internal conflict, drought and poverty have remained the centuries-old problems of Sudan. There are signs that the situation is improving slowly, although much still needs to be done to find lasting solutions to these seemingly intractable crises. According to the UN, life expectancy has risen from 43 in 1970 to 55 years in 1997, and the infant mortality rate dropped during the same period from 107 per 1,000 live births to 73. These positive trends in health have still not reduced the high rate of malaria infection in the majority of the population, nor an alarmingly high maternal mortality rate.

The Sudanese Red Crescent (SRCS), established in 1956, has a long-standing commitment to addressing the social and health problems of the people of Sudan. Over 10,000 active volunteers ensure that its programmes reach the most vulnerable. Food, health and other types of assistance are provided to hundreds of thousands of people displaced by war or drought throughout the country. Training in maternal health and child care, vaccination campaigns and income-generation initiatives are some of the activities that make the SRCS one of the most important aid agencies in the country. This photo essay by Jenny Matthews highlights some of the programmes and volunteers of an important National Society.


Produce from the farm at Al Janade village, alongside the Blue Nile River. The cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, onions and aubergines are sold by the poorest women at the local market for low prices, providing subsidized vegetables for the whole community.

Women from the Bani Amir tribe attend a Red Crescent talk on health and nutrition at Gulsa camp for displaced people, near the Eritrean border. The rings in their noses and deep lines cut into their faces are part of a traditional practice that is dying out.



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