Sudan has faced substantial changes because of the independence of South Sudan in 2011, including the loss of human and land resources and three quarters of the country’s oil wealth. Sudan’s land area today is 1.9 million km² and it has approximately 35.5 million people, of whom 67 per cent live in rural areas.
With oil reserves lost, growth has faltered and government revenues slumped, while the country’s debt problem remains unresolved. Poverty and undernourishment, already serious, have worsened.
Unemployment is 19.8 per cent in rural areas and 24.7 per cent for women. Nationwide the poverty rate is estimated at 47 per cent, but that reaches 58 per cent in rural areas.
So enhancing the performance of agriculture, including crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry, is vital for poverty reduction. Agriculture generates 35-40 per cent of GDP, according to the World Bank, and employs 70-80 per cent of the labour force in rural areas. However, productivity is low and variable because of erratic climate conditions, degraded soils, low poor technologies and lack of knowledge.
In livestock, husbandry productivity is low because of disease and parasites, sub-optimal breeding, reduced access to traditional range resources.
Ongoing-armed conflict also impairs farming in some areas.
The main constraints on rural livelihoods are access to markets, access to financial services, unpredictable water shortages, and barriers to livestock migration.
The Government of Sudan is committed to structural reforms and tackling the roots of poverty, introducing several measures to benefit farmers and the poor.
In Sudan, IFAD loans help to increase agricultural production through environmentally sustainable practices and distribution of improved seeds.
Activities target the needs of rural poor people in the rain fed farming sector and help them build resilience against climate change. IFAD also supports improved access to services and markets in rural areas through infrastructure and is developing partnerships with private sector and service-provider networks.
In line with government decentralization policies, IFAD projects help empower local communities and promote good local governance.
Key activities include fostering community dialogue around sensitive topics including natural resource management; promoting land reform; harmonizing resources for nomads and farmers; and Promoting equitable distribution of resources through participation of local communities in decision-making.
In addition, projects financed by IFAD integrate measures to ensure representation of women and youth in grass-roots organizations and on project management teams, as well as ensuring access to microfinance for women in remote rural areas.
The most abundant water resource is rainfall. It is estimated that the total precipitation is around 1,250 billion cubic metres (BCM). Rainfall varies in amount and frequency (number of individual showers), with amounts generally decreasing from north to south. Sudan’s estimated annual rainfall since the secession of South has decreased from 1,060BCM to about 442BCM. The rainy season runs from June to September with a peak in August.
Harnessing rainwater and floods is not widely practiced and water harvesting is poorly developed. Although the practice is old, it is only carried out on a small scale. Rainwater is used to cultivate around 35 million feddans of sorghum and millet subsistence and semi-mechanized rain-fed agriculture. Most of the rainwater evaporates, although some recharges groundwater or run-off in seasonal streams.
Sudan has around one million hectares of surface water, the most important of which is a 2,000km-long stretch of Nile and tributaries. Wetlands cover 10% of the country, whereas forests cover 4%. There are many seasonal watercourses (khors) that run during the short rainy season. Their discharge volumes, flow durations and water quality have never been gauged. The total annual discharge of the relatively perennial rivers, outside the Nile basin, is 7.0BCM. The most important of these are the Gash, Baraka and Khor Arbaat rivers in the east, Wadi Azoom and Galol as well as many others in Darfur, and Khor Abu Habil, which drains the Nuba Mountains of Southern Kordofan.
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