Renewed momentum for tackling water scarcity and conflict in Darfur

Aug 19, 2011

Political commitment, donor interest and increased awareness of the need to manage Darfur's scarce water resources sustainably were among the key outcomes of a two-day international conference organized by the Sudanese Government and its international partners in Khartoum.

Central to the event was the launch of a US$1 billion global appeal for 65 inter-related water projects over the next 6 years to meet the rapidly increasing demand for water across Darfur and in doing so, tackle one of the key factors contributing to local-level conflict in the region. Major pledges made at the conference include a US$100 million commitment from the Arab League and a contribution of US$216 million from the Government of Sudan, with expressions of interest from Turkey, Japan and the United States of America.
Some 500 Sudanese and international water and development experts, Sudanese state and federal officials, and representatives from international organizations and donor countries participated in the event, which was sponsored by the Sudanese Government, UN agencies in Sudan – including the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) – and the UN and African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
The goal of the event was to establish an integrated framework to provide sufficient and equitable water for all users in Darfur, in order to meet their survival, livelihood and environmental protection needs, and advance peace in the region. "For UNEP, a major outcome of the conference is the greater recognition that a balance needs to be struck between water supply and managing existing resources in a sustainable manner," said Robin Bovey, UNEP's Sudan Programme Manager.
In the last few years, population growth and massive urbanization have compounded water availability problems in an environment already marked by surface water scarcity and high variability of rainfall. With over 50% of the population now living in and around major towns in Darfur, groundwater tables in many urban areas and IDP camps have dropped dramatically – some up to 10 metres. Climate change is also of particular concern in marginal areas such as Northern Darfur, where 16 of the 20 driest years on record have been recorded since 1972.
To support economic development and stability in Darfur, "major investment is needed to improve surface water management – for example the construction of rainwater harvesting infrastructure and small dams" Bovey said. "This needs to be matched with effective catchment management, in order to support Darfur's agriculture and pastoralism sectors, which are the foundation of the region's economy".
Water resource management is one of the largest components of UNEP's programme in Sudan. For more information on the Darfur International Conference on Water for Sustainable Peace, visit the conference website at:

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United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Julie Marks



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