Your excellency [El Sarif Mohamed Abad Samouh] governor of North Darfur State
Mr Adil Mahgoub Hussein, Minister of Production and Economic Resources, North Darfur State
Your Excellency [Altijani Abdalla Salih], Commissioner of El Fasher locality
Gary Lewis , Director of the Policy and Programming Division, and Atila Uras, Country Programme
Manager, representing UN Environment
Ms Muna Elthair, Practical Action Sudan
Local and traditional authorities
Ladies and gentlemen
It is an honor to be here in Kafod for the official launch of the second phase of the Wadi el Ku Integrated Catchment Management project. I am pleased to have today with us those have who made the first phase of the project such a big success. Without the support of the Government of North Darfur, of the local and traditional authorities, the Wadi el Ku Management project could not have started and we would not be here today. Needless to say, a successful project needs a good implementer. UN Environment and Practical Action performed so well, because of their profound knowledge of the subject, their capacity to interact with the local communities and to translate hard science into daily language that can be followed by all. Last but not least, most important for success are the local communities, the farmers, the pastoralists, the local villagers! The people of El Fasher localities were very engaged, they have actively participated in committees and helped to design and implement something of great quality.
Our thanks go to all of them!
As you know, the EU is committed to the Human Right of Access to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, as a fundamental component of the right to an adequate standard of living. Climate change and water are fundamentally linked.
Climate change is today the most serious crisis faced by humanity. Many of those who expressed skepticism in the past now accept that global warming and climate change are real. Globally, natural disasters are on the rise and increase in intensity. Rain patterns become less predictable negatively impacting on the livelihoods of millions of rural people. Floods and droughts are becoming more frequent costing lives and damaging nature and the economy. Poor communities are the most vulnerable when water supply is threatened. They are likely to be worst affected. Less water availability impacts on health and food security. It triggers displacement of people and political instability. The implementation of the Paris Agreement is key to address the water global challenges linked to climate change.
Sudan is one of the countries most and hardest affected by climate change. Studies indicate that due to the reduction of the frequency and variation of rain patterns, the area viable for non-irrigated agriculture will move 100 km southwards in North Darfur, Kassala and North Kordofan States. We know that rainfall in El Fasher declined from 300 mm/year to 150 mm/year in the course of the last decade.
This is why it is so important to be here.
Before moving to the new activities, I would like to highlight some achievements of the first phase of the project. Three dams and one hafirs have been constructed or rehabilitated, allowing 1584 households from 54 villages to grow vegetables well into the dry season; 35 feddan of forests have been planted; six nurseries were established (with a potential capacity to produce 40,000 seedlings per year). This dam is a physical reminder of all the good work that was made. The impact on the livelihoods of people in this area is remarkable. Vegetables provide an improved diet as well as a source of income from the market. Generated income has helped people to send children to school and when needed pay for medicines and hospitals. But monies have also been reinvested in new businesses and trade: for instance the vegetables from this area are now also shipped to the markets in Khartoum, fetching a much higher price thanks to their quality.
However, there is another important achievement of this project, maybe less visible than the works and fields where the crops are growing. In all development projects we are concerned about sustainability. Infrastructures are built, people trained, outcomes achieved. However, after some years, we often see machines breaking apart not being maintained or replaced, good practices being forgotten and areas slowly starting to move back to the same situation prior to the donor intervention. This happens when those living in the area, civil authorities, traditional leaders and all inhabitants are not fully integrated and engaged in the design and implementation of the project. I know that the story of Wadi el Ku project is different. From the beginning, all those living and getting their livelihood from the Wadi were an integral part of the project: men and in particular women, farmers and pastoralists, communities upstream and downstream. All were consulted, trained and became part of the various mechanisms created to manage the structures and the water from the Wadi. I understand that the discussions were not always easy, which is understandable considering the importance of the project for the communities in North Darfur. However, I am very happy to learn that open conflict could be avoided and differences were settled in a spirit of cooperation. Water, which, when scarce, can be such a divisive subject, becomes a common resource to be shared and used by all! Numerous structures were created and empowered, such as the Catchment Management Forum and the committees managing all the other levels of the programme, which have contributed to this success.
On this sound basis, we are now building up a new phase of the project, which is the main reason for our presence here today. The European Union is going to invest 10 million additional Euro (with a UN Environment contribution of one million) to extend the activities to the entirety of the region depending on the catchment area, including all communities upstream and downstream from El Fasher. With this expansion, our intervention will directly support more than 80,000 farming families and provide benefits to around 700,000 people who are living on the banks of the Wadi or have their livelihood depending on its water.
Moreover, we plan to strengthen the linkages with the faculty of the University in El Fasher, which already supported the project in modelling the catchment area. Cooperation could then also be extended to Universities in other States in order to increase understanding of water integrated management and pave the way for possible future interventions inspired by the successful experience here in Wadi el Ku. Our hope is that the same model could be reproduced in a number of other regions, in Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan. This will help local populations to better manage their natural resources in partnership towards a peaceful and profitable future.
There is still a long way to go, but as all of you have shown here in Wadi el Ku, success is possible.