The Wadi El Ku Catchment Management project, funded by the EU and implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme together with federal and state government, and led by Practical Action, aims to promote food security and disaster resilience by strengthening integrated water resource management and early warning in Sudan. The project was initiated in 2017 and will be completed at the end of 2022.
The impacts of climate change, including desertification, reduced rainfall, and increased drought are severely affecting vulnerability and development gains in the region. Sudan additionally faces challenges due to the hydrogeological environment, where shallow rock means there is a lack of groundwater access. Lack of water in Sudan is leading to forced migration and local conflict. Women and children spend hours each day walking to collect water, meaning less time for education or income generation, while farmers and pastoralists struggle to care for livestock and crops.
The project is combining peace-building with improvements to water management. A peace conference held at the beginning of the project brought together farmers and pastoralists affected by the long-run conflict to build relationships and develop cooperation about the use of water and land.
The project is introducing a water harvesting system to recharge aquifers using the 3) approach (Retain, Restore, Reuse) to increase the availability of water across season of the year. Additionally, Water Resources Management Committees (WRMCs) are being established, and local residents trained to oversee the construction, renovation and ongoing maintenance of water collection and delivery systems in the area. Participants are able to collect data and conduct their own feasibility studies for water resource management.
Existing drinking water facilities have been repaired and new ones built, with training given to locals in how to operate and maintain them. A local spare parts supply chain has also been set up, increasing local income.
The project has also adopted a Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach instead of the traditional sanitation built on subsidiaries to ensure sustainability and has worked with local schools and health centres to promote good sanitation and hygiene practices, keeping communities healthy.
Ongoing tensions between stakeholders is an important factor and sufficient time to build relationships between them is key.
The project has highlighted both the key importance of holistic approaches which address the needs of communities as a whole, as well as the transformative potential of nature-based solutions to address the deeply rooted and underlying causes of poverty, inequality, and vulnerability.