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Building Climate-Resilience in Agriculture and Water Sectors in Sudan

Submitted by Michael Rastall 29th November 2013 17:06

 
Over 80% of the population in Sudan is directly dependent on agriculture or natural resources for their livelihood. This makes Sudan one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change. Changing rainfall patterns and rising temperatures are negatively affecting ecosystems and increasing presence of pests and diseases brought by them, which are causing declining crop yields. This year the rainy season started late in Sudan, but when it finally arrived the rains came with a vengeance and rivers rose to record heights. Unfortunately, most farmers did not benefit from the excess water. On the contrary, flash floods killed dozens. Over 300,000 people were directly affected when 74,000 homes were damaged or destroyed.
 
Since the 1930s, the Sahara Desert has been shifting southward and coupled with increasingly severe droughts, this trend is likely to continue due to changing climate patterns. In a place where the majority of the population is dependent on rain-fed agriculture and livestock raising, continued negative impacts of climate change will lead to increased risk of food shortage, poverty, conflicts, and famine.
 
Poverty reduction, improved food security and adapting to a changing climate are among Sudan’s primary development objectives.Together with UNDP, the Sudanese Government is working to develop targeted agricultural and water management practices to build resilience to climate change starting at the grass-roots level. In 2010,  an LDCF-financed and UNDP-supported initiative was launched in Sudan to implement National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) priorities in four agro-ecological zones.
 
Some of the specific project achievements to date include: introduction of in situ water harvesting measures through terraces, development of earth bunds and deep ploughing techniques, and the introduction of drought resistant crop varieties which have increased yields up to 150% benefiting more than 1,000 households in Gedarif and South Darfur states. Introduction of water efficient irrigation systems for crops using diesel and solar pumps, and planting of shelter belts to halt the encroachment of the desert into village farmland, securing areas for agriculture and animal husbandry in River Nile and North Kordofan have helped reduce food shortage risks in those areas. Introduction of new cash crops has increased household incomes and use of butane gas has effectively helped reduce the numbers of trees cut down for fuel.
 
Women are playing an essential role in this initiative; 800 women have benefited directly and are engaged in the adaptation measures in their communities. All these achievements have improved the well-being for all members of households in, both, the short- and long-term by providing immediate income generating activities and allowing for future activities to be sustained in a new drier climate. 
 
Resources have now reached over 20,000 beneficiaries, increasing their food security and improving their livelihoods, making it possible to support the development and capacity building of Village Development Committees and regional Technical Committees who manage projects at their respective levels. These committees have received training in climate change adaptation and the importance of their roles in helping communities sustain a strong support structure of knowledge to address risks and negative impacts of climate change. To support the sustainable continuation of project activities, the Village Development Committees manage revolving micro-funds which help with micro-financing and seed funding for small and new initiatives aimed at tackling the adverse effects of new challenges presented by climate variability.
 
This initiative is introducing and testing simple and improved technologies for managing climate change risks for small-holder farmers. It is funded by the LDCF with a grant of USD 3.3 million and has recently received additional funding from the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (FATDC) in the amount of USD 2.8 million that will support this initiative into 2016.