For Sudanese innovation is crucial to survive through conflict

Sudan’s ongoing war has left university lecturer Ali Seif without a salary for several months. To meet his financial needs, he has resorted to producing soap within his makeshift displacement camp accommodation.

As conflict persists between rival forces, leaving many unemployed, a significant number of Sudanese citizens have had to discover innovative methods to sustain themselves and their families.

Prior to the outbreak of conflict on April 15 between the army led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo’s Rapid Support Forces, Seif had been employed at a university in Khartoum.

Presently, the engineering lecturer, along with his family, resides in Wad Madani, a city where the majority of the approximately three million individuals who fled the capital sought refuge for safety, bringing along only a limited amount of their possessions.

Until now, Wad Madani has managed to avoid the outbreak of violence, yet aerial bombardments and clashes are unfolding roughly 150 kilometers (95 miles) to the north.

To make ends meet, he has begun selling soap.

Seif says “misfortune” makes you creative.

“I noticed there was no soap left on the market even though everyone wanted some, so I decided to make soap bars,” he recounted, while encircled by plastic containers he employs to blend soap paste before pouring the mixture into ice cube trays to shape the bars.

They Have Left Us No Choice

Similar to Seif, Michelle Elia Moussa once stood in front of a classroom filled with students.

However, since the onset of the war that upended her life and nation, she has found herself spending her days stationed at a stall within the Al-Hasaheisa market, situated halfway between Khartoum and Wad Madani.

“I’ve given up hope and shelved my ambitions of being a brilliant teacher,” she commented, adjusting her glasses on her nose and with an apron secured around her waist, while she inspects her assortment of cakes.

In a nation grappling with poverty, where the looming threats of famine, epidemics, and pervasive war crimes cast heavy shadows, you cannot survive without an income or a job she says.

“It’s the first time I’ve worked in a market,” she tells media.

Eshraqa Mousa, another woman who escaped from Khartoum, has established a small stall to vend tea. She emphasized that without this venture, she would only be able to afford one meal a day for her children.

Everything Is Left Behind

The swift departure of her family from the capital at the commencement of a conflict that has resulted in the deaths of at least 3,900 individuals and the displacement of four million remains vivid in Mousa’s recollection.

“We left everything behind… so I came here and bought this little stall to sell tea,” she said.

In a traditional society where tea vendors, though abundant, frequently face stigma and harassment, her decision was a display of courage that she had never anticipated achieving.

However, the onset of the war shattered such cultural taboos, paving the way for a shift towards survival and resourcefulness.

“We were forced to find alternatives,” said Mohammed Ali.

Having previously served as a civil servant in the capital, he shared that he collaborated with a few colleagues to establish a modest mobile food stall.

Constructed from white sheet metal and fueled by a generator, it’s reminiscent of the ones you come across in Khartoum, a type that is absent in Wad Madani, he says.

Currently, he sells mashed beans, falafel, and other popular snacks among his fellow countrymen every day, enabling him to provide sustenance for his family.

However, this stability might be short-lived, as the streets of Wad Madani are abuzz with conjecture that the conflict might imminently reach this city.

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