A fresh crop: exciting environmental initiatives take hold in Northern Sudan
In the highly arid ecosystems in the northern part of the country lies River Nile state. Under the National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) framework in the state, six villages that lay alongside the western bank of the River Atbara have been targeted by UNDP for increasing the resilience of the local communities to the effects of climate change in Sudan. Through an extensive consultative process among local stakeholders and community members, these six villages were revealed to be among the hardest hit by recurring food insecurity issues. In recent years, as climate change has further taken its toll on the dry, desolate region, the riverine villages have again and again received below average flooding which has in turn resulted in significantly lower crop yields during the cultivation season. For the farmers of Lower Atbara who depend on the meagre waters to sustain their livelihoods - the struggle to provide the basic needs for their families has become even more pronounced.
Beginning in 2011, the bold initiatives undertaken by the NAPA intervention have consisted of awareness raising activities, supplying supplementary irrigation, provision of agricultural extension and improved seeds, introduction of cash crops and vegetables, planting of shelterbelts to reduce sand encroachment and availing butane gas to the communities.
One of these communities, Balouk village lies 186 kilometres east of Ed Damer town. The local economy depends on small-scale farming and animal rearing. Climate change has affected many aspects of the community’s life including shrinking of the grazing and cultivated areas, irregular rainfall and desertification. NAPA support thus far has included the provision of 13 irrigation pumps, improved seeds, tractors, gas cylinders, shelterbelt planting and specialized trainings on sustainable growth and farming. In just a few short months the community has seen substantial benefits on the ground including year round animal fodder for many community members, less expenditure on coal and large-scale animal vaccination; and less tangible benefits such as a marked improvement in community ability to organise themselves to work together, improved knowledge and skills in farming and animal husbandry, improved health due to more vegetables now being available in the marketplace and a better understanding of climate change issues.
For Ahmed Eldaw, a local farmer who cultivated around 5.4 hectares of his land, the results have been striking. Out of this area, 2.52 hectares were planted with Sorghum, 2.52 hectares with tomato and 0.36 hectares with animal fodder. After selling three truckloads of tomato for $3,542, the farm went on to produce three to four additional truckloads of tomato. The sorghum farm produced 84 sacks worth of US$4,375 while the total production cost was US$1,520. In addition, he has cut his expenses in fodder by nearly a quarter. Eldaw is really appreciating the NAPA intervention which has changed his life and secured sustenance for his family and his livestock. “I am happy now. This initiative has provided me with the tools to better grow my crops and expand my income”
The initiative falls under UNDP’s project “Implementing NAPA Priority Interventions to Build Resilience in the Agriculture and Water Sectors to the Adverse Impacts of Climate Change”. The project which is implemented by the Higher Council for Environment and Natural Resources with the support from UNDP aims at implementing pilot adaptation measures and strengthening national and local capacities to respond to climate change and its impact in Sudan. The project is made possible through the generous support of the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) of the Global Environment Facility (GEF).