Monday, February 7, 2011

"He's raising hope in southern Sudan by boosting crop yields – and women's rights" Why can't people like this win Nobel Prizes---OR ANY PRIZE?

Driuni Jakani’
I love reading stories like this.  Americans/Westerners need to be reminded that there are many people around the world working hard to improve their lives and the lives of their fellow countrymen.  They are not looking for a hand-out but for a hand-up...This story is full of confirmation of that. 

He's raising hope in southern Sudan by boosting crop yields – and women's rights

Driuni Jakani aims to transform his rural community in southern Sudan from postwar devastation to economic growth and prosperity

People like Mr. Jakani will be vital to the success of Africa's newest country. "Right now, because of the war years, there are a lot of international organizations here," Jakani says. "But over time, they will move out. And so we need to be ready to serve our own communities ourselves."

By late 2008 he decided he could have more impact in his community if he started his own group. Today Lacha Community and Economic Development (LCED) has 10 employees and has been recognized as a Community-Based Organization of Excellence by the local branch of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Its mission is threefold: to support peace, agriculture, and gender equality.

"Let me tell you why we need all three," says Jakani, leaning forward to talk about issues he is clearly passionate about.

"Without peace, we can't do anything," he begins. "As long as our population is traumatized by war, we can't even think about development.

"Agriculture is key because more than 90 percent of those in our community make their livelihoods from agriculture. We have to work with what we have."

He pauses for breath.

"And gender equality: We are losing half our capacity because most of our women cannot read or write and so get excluded from decisionmaking."

Asked what is LCED's biggest success to date, Jakani responds, "Just one? Let me talk about two."

The first is the introduction of oxen to plow the local farms. LCED has supported training in ox-plowing and bought two oxen. Today, land that took three days to plow by hand is finished in three hours.

With the increased productivity, locals now can view farming as a viable business opportunity.

"Before, I only could farm enough to feed my family, and sometimes not even that," says Samuel Sunday, a farmer. "But since we started using the ox[en], I have enough for my family and leftovers to take to sell at the market. It has made me feel very happy."

The second success, Jakani says, "has never happened in the whole living memory of my community." For the first time, three women were chosen as chiefs of their villages.

For two years Jakani worked with local women to increase their skills and confidence. And he persuaded the local men to agree to have women present at their traditional meetings.

"What happened when the women began to participate is that when they spoke they made a lot of sense to people," Jakani explains.
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