(UNEP-SUDAN) - In 2012-2015, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the European Commission (EC) supported
a pilot demonstration project on Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction (Eco-DRR) in Sudan. The Eco-DRR project was implemented in partnership with the National Government, the State Government of North Darfur, Practical Action, and local community based organizations.
It aimed to reduce vulnerability to water related hazards, in particular droughts and floods, mitigate conflict among pastoralists and farmers, and support community livelihoods through sustainable dryland management in the Kilimondo locality in the State of North Darfur. The pilot demonstration activities covered five villages (Eid El Beida, Abudelik, Waa’dha, Wad Kota and Bahr Omdurman) along a 40 km stretch of a seasonal water body, or wadi.
The project had three main components:
1. Undertaking Eco-DRR field interventions in a drylands context, such as improved access to water, community forestry and re-seeding of degraded pastureland;
2. Strengthening sustainable and equitable natural resource governance, such as through the establishment of a water resources management committee, demarcation of a pastoralist migratory route and improving agricultural support services; and
3. Developing local community, state- and national-level capacities for Eco-DRR implementation.
The project promoted ecosystem-based measures to mitigate water-related hazards and address ecosystem degradation, which is one of the drivers of local conflict and vulnerability. It applied the concept of Eco-DRR in the context of Drylands in order to demonstrate the benefits of Eco- DRR for livelihoods, food and water security, and disaster risk reduction. Two key aspects of disaster vulnerability reduction were addressed directly by the Eco-DRR project: improving food and water security through sustainable drylands management; enhancing water resource governance through strengthening of local and national capacities (including at state-level) in sustainable drylands management, as well as through mainstreaming Eco-DRR considerations in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).
Given that Eco-DRR in North Darfur was implemented against a backdrop of protracted, local conflict among various groups, the project aimed to mitigate conflict between pastoralist and farming communities, through consensus-building over the use of land and water.
The project clearly demonstrated that Eco-DRR can be successfully applied in the context of drylands. While ecosystem-based measures are often perceived as exclusively green infrastructure such as re-vegetation and ecosystem protection, the project demonstrated that hybrid measures, such as a combination of green and grey infrastructure might, in fact, be the most appropriate approach
in a drylands context in Sudan. At the same time, the demonstration activities in Kilimondo served as an entry point to build institutional capacity within the State Government of North Darfur and National Government Ministries to promote Eco-DRR within the emerging IWRM approach in Sudan.
Despite the short time frame of the project, the success of pilot field activities is evident by the strong community uptake of interventions. The communities themselves have been voluntarily\ replicating ecosystem-based measures such as re-seeding of pastureland and implementing a grazing ban in community forests. The awareness raised and the capacities developed within local communities and the State Government has also resulted in increased government oversight on haphazard dam constructions to ensure that upstream and downstream water usages are compatible and reduce vulnerabilities to drought and flood.
Rehabilitation of an existing water retention structure in Eware valley, near Eid El Beida Village, by improving its structural design, has increased the durability of the structure, allowing it to better withstand heavy rains and flash floods. As a result, farmers can cultivate irrigated, fertile wadi soils, and therefore significantly boost agricultural production;
Following rehabilitation of the water retention structure, an estimated 6,300 ha (15,000 faddens) of otherwise dry wadi land was flooded in the 2014 rainy season, which resulted in increased water retention and a dramatic increase (17.5 times more) in cultivable land upstream and downstream, therefore producing more food and closing the food gap during dry periods;
Approximately 315 ha (750 faddens) of newly irrigated land was allocated to 150 households, who previously had no or limited access to fertile wadi land;
A community-run tree seedling nursery, run by the local women’s group, was established with an annual production capacity of more than 17,000 forest tree seedlings to support reforestation and 1,000 fruit trees;
Five community forests established covering more than 24 ha and managed by local women’s groups;
Re-seeding of 1,214 ha of rangeland with fast-maturing pasture seeds; Revolving funds for community seed and animal drugs were established in each of the five villages to strengthen local livelihoods and provide additional economic safety nets, along with training of local farming extension agents and paravets; Ten agricultural extension agents and eight
paravets have been trained.
A 10-person water resource management committee was established and trained in the operation and maintenance of the rehabilitated water retention structure, as well as in broader issues related to the sustainable and equitable management of water and land resources;
The water resource management committee was connected to an upstream Water Forum along the same wadi, to improve upstream downstream coordination of water usage; Demarcation of a 10 km migratory pastoralist route to reduce local conflict over access to water and land; Increased Eco-DRR capacity within the National
Government and Darfur State Government through two Eco-DRR training workshops; Eco-DRR awareness-raising campaign reached 200 community members in the five target villages.
The European Commission and UNEP collaborated on a four-year project (2012- 2016) to promote, innovate and scale-up ecosystem-based approaches to disaster risk reduction (Eco-DRR) in vulnerable countries and to raise greater recognition of Eco-DRR globally. While the project was global in scope, it implemented Eco- DRR demonstration projects in four countries: Sudan, Afghanistan, Haiti and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
These four countries were selected because they presented four distinct ecosystem zones located in highly vulnerable settings in which to apply various Eco-DRR approaches. In addition, UNEP has established field presence in all four countries, providing an opportunity to leverage resources and build on UNEP’s work in the countries. In each of the four countries, the project delivered a common set of interventions, which were then tailored according to local contexts and national priorities.
These Interventions Included
• National and community baseline assessments for mapping Eco-DRR opportunities and challenges;
• Field-based activities to apply and demonstrate the Eco-DRR approach and provide direct benefits to local communities, who are vulnerable to disaster and climate risks;
• Local and national capacity building and training workshops to support Eco-DRR implementation and promote replication of similar initiatives around the country;
• Strengthening partnerships and new collaborations on Eco-DRR; and
• Policy advocacy to inform national policy and planning processes and promote risk-informed sustainable development.
s case study documents the experience, results and lessons of the Eco-DRR demonstration project in Sudan, which examined the relevance of Eco- DRR in the context of drylands. The Eco-DRR project was implemented in one segment of the Wadi El Ku, one of the largest seasonal water bodies in North Darfur. The target area falls within the Kilimondo locality. Through collaboration between the Government of Sudan, UNEP, Practical Action and local actors and communities, the project applied a sustainable drylands management approach to achieve food security, community resilience to water hazards (droughts and floods) and mitigate local conflicts over natural resources.
The Eco-DRR project complemented another initiative by UNEP, known as the Wadi El-Ku Catchment Management (WEK) Project in North
Darfur, which is funded by the European Union and implemented during the same period (2013- 2017) along the same wadi. The earlier start of the Eco-DRR project gave UNEP the added advantage to further design the Wadi El Ku project to take into account water-related hazards. In this regard, the Eco-DRR project helped to influence the broader planning process on Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) initiated by the WEK project. Both projects contributed to strengthening capacities of the State Government of North Darfur to promote and implement IWRM in the Wadi El Ku and enhance community resilience to water hazards.
The Kilimondo locality is located in the state of North Darfur, Sudan (MAP 2).v The defining environmental feature of the area is the Wadi
El Ku, one of the main seasonal water ways in North Darfur that originates in eastern Jebel Marra and ultimately drains into the Nile basin. Water only flows during the rainy season (June to October). For the rest of the year, the wadi bed remains dry.
The catchment area of the wadi covers 27,000 km2 and lies on the southern edge of the arid Sahara desert. The climate is semi-arid to arid, with around 100-150 mm of rainfall annually. Variability in rainfall is high and in fact has a much larger influence on agricultural production than the average rainfall.
The wadi itself contains good quality, fertile clay soils, while the surrounding areas have a sandy ‘goz’ soil, which is fragile and characterized by poor nutrient levels, high acidity, and low water retention capacity.
Agriculture and agro-pastoralism represent the main economic activities of local communities. Therefore villages are located along the wadi for access to water. A number of nomadic pastoralist groups also migrate through the area and have increasingly established temporary settlements to access water resources. Pasture is generally sparse and of poor quality, due to over-grazing. Gum Arabic production from acacia trees, which grow on pastureland, is another significant source of income for many farming families.
Women and children play an important role in farming and livestock rearing activities. On farms, in particular, women are more active than men.