Improving the Lives of Women in Prisons in East Sudan

 The new water tank in Kassala prison is ready to use - Photograph by © UNDP Sudan 2014

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with its local partner Zenab for Women in Development recently launched a project for improving the lives of female inmates in Gedarif, Kassala, and Red Sea states in East Sudan.

The project is funded by the Embassy of Finland in Cairo and has a duration of nine months. It targets the female inmates and their accompanying children in East Sudan with support and oversight of UNDP Governance and Rule of Law Unit.

Director of Gadaref State Prisons and Reform Administration, Brigadier Babiker Ali welcomed the project team and assured his continued co-operation and support. According to him, “Women in prison are to be considered as a vulnerable group and should be assisted. Thus, any contribution to support them is welcomed by the prison management.”

The project takes a holistic approach to address all aspects of women’s wellbeing and empowerment. In addition to providing legal aid services, the project will contribute to improved living conditions for female prisoners in terms of better accommodation, meals, safe drinking water, and better hygienic facilities. Medical services and psychosocial counseling will also be provided as part of the project.

Among the items delivered at both locations of Gedarif and Kasala prisons was a large water tank. These tanks will facilitate access to clean water and better hygienic practices among the female prisoners and their children.
Zenab, a leading Sudanese NGO, has a long record of working on women’s issues in East Sudan. Founded in the year 2000, Zenab focuses on empowerment of women in areas such as legal aid, education, livelihoods, and women’s leadership.

Tarig Mohamed, Executive Director of Zenab describes the intervention in the following way:  “In the past the water supply was filled manually, making it very irregular. Because of the tank, the water supply is now constant, clean, and direct from the nearby water station. This is of great help to the women. Other inputs we provided included mattresses, food items like lentils, oil, and milk powder for the children.”

Alongside medical and legal support, the project will contribute to the future reintegration of the inmates within their community. The skills they learn will help them generate income for themselves and their families after their release.

The project is an example of UNDP working together with a local implementing partner to improve the lives of the marginalized while at the same time building local capacities. This implementing modality offers flexibility, community involvement and value for money.

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