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Looking ahead

Despite the tough conditions of their lives, and the deep sense of loss that many express about the past, these narrators do not lack ideas or hope for the future.

Osman feels positive that with investment things could improve – then there would be no need to migrate away from home. Even Widad, who found that the sheer hard work of meeting basic needs meant she could not invest enough time to develop a vegetable garden, has not lost her determination: “…we want to restore the village to how it was before, and we will work on that.”

The majority of the narrators say irrigation is the way forward; relying on rain-fed agriculture is no longer viable but they have a history of successful irrigation. As Ismail puts it, they need financial and technical support: “We have the workforce and experience…”

Madinah also emphasises that they need technology and training. She feels a positive aspect of migration is that workers sometimes come back with fresh approaches to development, a view endorsed by Mekki and Ismail: “travelling and migration have provided us with many experiences and new notions which can help [development].”


Looking ahead is a key theme of the Desert voices: Sudan oral testimony project.


El Emam: no man remains

El Nour: inside my heart

Fatima: women are exhausted

Ismail: broader horizons

Madinah: progress is possible

Mekki: migration for survival

Naema: nothing the same

Osman: make land productive

Sayda: women’s lives

Widad: restoring the village

Key themes

Introduction to the project




Social change




Natural resources



Food security

Mutual support

Looking ahead