Your Excellences the Assistant to the President, Minister of Water Resources, Irrigation and Electricity, Minister of Environment and Urban Planning,
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Minister of Animal Resources.
Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Minister of Finance
Minister of Welfare and Social Security, Minister of Federal Governance,
Deputy Governor on North Darfur State], Ladies and Gentlemen
I am very happy to speak on behalf of the European Union on this important subject today. Water is without doubt one of the most important resources, but also one of the most important challenges for Sudan's development.
We all learned in history classes about the key role that the Nile played in the development of civilization in this part of the world, supporting life in what was then and is now a harsh environment. The river was an unending source of water for the population living on its banks and very year deposits of silts from the highlands of Ethiopia made the surrounding land fertile.
Now as then, the importance of the Nile cannot be underestimated, but the reality in Sudan is much more complex than it appears at first sight. When moving away from the Nile basin, groundwater becomes the most important source of water, especially during the long dry season. Rain (even more than land) is the critical resource for agriculture and pastoralism: the majority of small holders and herders are extremely vulnerable to changes in rain patterns that would almost go unnoticed in a more forgiving environment. A delay of few days in the rain can make the difference in the life of a rural family and have a catastrophic effect for the economy of a region.
According to scientific studies, climatic changes will have a negative impact on Sudan's agriculture and rural population: rain fed agriculture, unless supported by water harvesting, would become impossible in 20% of the current cultivated areas, with a severe impact on El Fasher, the northern part of West Kordofan, North Kordofan State and Kassala and an increase of harvest failure for the farmers in north of Nyala and Ed Daein, El Obeid a swella s parts of White Mile, Gezira and Gedaref States.
Efforts in water conservation can shield in part the communities and a number of schemes have been implemented by donors and Government alike, with positive results for the livelihood of selected communities. However, despite the positive results of such interventions, water remains a scarce commodity for many Sudanese. Scarcity can easily cause tension and escalate into conflict, unless the voices of all users in an area (including nomadic pastoralists) are heard and all interests are integrated in the decision making process.
For the European Union, as the world’s biggest provider of development assistance, water cooperation remains a major imperative, and the integrated management of water resources is increasingly necessary to achieve sustainable water use, water efficiency and the safeguarding of water ecosystems. In 2002, the EU Member States agreed that water is a primary human need and water supply and sanitation are basic social services. During the last decades the EU has directed its support for improved access to water and sanitation through many programmes and initiatives. Since 2007, the EU has engaged more than EUR 2,500 million on water and sanitation actions in 62 countries, mainly in Africa. During 2004-13, EU assistance provided access to clean water for more than 70 million people and sanitation to over 24 million people.
In 2004, the EU-ACP Water Facility was established and has since provided EUR 712 million for 308 projects in more than 50 ACP countries.
The EU Water Initiative was launched at the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit for Sustainable Development in the face of declining investment in water and sanitation. In the context of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy the EUWI is actively supporting the water component of the EU-Africa Infrastructure Partnership.
The ACP-EU Water Facility was established in 2004 with the objective to help achieve the water and sanitation Millennium Development Goals, and to contribute to improved water governance and management of water resources, and to the sustainable development and maintenance of water infrastructure. The Facility has provided EUR 712 million for 308 projects in more than 50 ACP countries.
The EU’s 2011 Agenda for Change announced the intention to focus future EU assistance on a smaller group of sectors per country, and stressed that more action was needed to tackle global challenges and deliver global public goods such as access to water and sanitation. Water was included in the context of sustainable growth related to agriculture and energy, and water security is addressed in the context of regional integration, linked to peace and security. It is also one part of the water-energy-food nexus, aiming to give people better access to land, food, water and energy without the EU Communication “A Decent Life for All” (2014) underlined the need to promote access to safe drinking water and sanitation among the key priority areas because of their contributions to poverty eradication and sustainable development. The Communication stressed that water and sanitation are a basic living standard, while water resources are essential drivers for sustainable growth.
In Sudan water resources management has been a key area of intervention for the European Union. We have been funding the first phase of the Wadi El Ku Catchment Management Project with UN Environment and Action Aid and are in the process of signing an Agreement for a second phase, supporting the entirety of its catchment area. In the Kassala, Gedaref and Red Sea we are funding Aqua4East, a consortium of six NGOs working with communities and local authorities for a better understanding and management of their water resources.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The task we are faced with is not an easy or simple one. Climate change is likely to have an impact on the availability of water, directly affecting the livelihoods of millions of rural (and urban) dwellers and the economy of all the countries in the Sahel region. If we want to succeed we need to work together, Federal and State Government, Regional authorities, donors, civil society and academia.
I wish you all very fruitful deliberations. Thank you.