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Adapting to climate change in Sudan

By United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Practical Action

For more than 10 years Practical Action has worked with communities in Darfur to help them overcome the challenges presented by their changing weather patterns.

Two years ago, Practical Action asked the public to support their work in the region – and together they raised more than £1.2m, which was matched by the UK Government.

This is the story of how that £1.2m will help bring peace and prosperity to farmers struggling to adapt to the changing climate.

When I read about the climate crisis in the international press, it’s usually presented as something that’s going to cause people problems in the future. Here in Sudan, we don’t have the luxury of time – people are living with the negative impact of the climate crisis every single day.

Awadalla Hamid, Conservation Manager for Practical Action in North Darfur

Peace and prosperity in Darfur (2019-12) by Practical ActionUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Peace And Prosperity In Darfur

Awadalla shares his expertise with all communities in Darfur to enable them to cope with their changing weather.

Farming rehabilitated land in Darfur (2019-10) by Practical ActionUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Farming Rehabilitated Land In Darfur

Practical Action has an incredible history of demonstrating that by working with communities and putting local people in control of their own destiny, it is possible to successfully adapt to climate change – and even reverse some of its devastating effects.

Farmers making ferro-cement cargo boats (1978) by Practical ActionUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

We’ve Been Doing This For A While

Our work helping farmers in Sudan adapt to the changing climate has a long history. In 1978, heavy rain in Juba made roads impassable. We taught farmers to make small ferro-cement cargo boats that were both flexible and manoeuvrable for transporting crops.

Abandoned villages (2019-12) by Practical ActionUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Working In The Shadow Of The First Climate Change War

In the 1990-2000s, climate change plunged Darfur into civil war as desertification and drought displaced communities and created conflict over scarce resources.


But Practical Action continued to operate, creating networks so that skills, training and knowledge could be shared and ploughs made by local blacksmiths were distributed so farmers could continue to feed themselves.

A pastoralist in North Darfur (2019-12) by Practical ActionUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

The Toughest Place To Farm

North Darfur is acutely drought prone. Farming crops and animals has been tough due to droughts, flash flooding, new pests and weeds. Growing crops and raising animals has never been tougher.

Movement of people once displaced by conflict, now moving back to villages has meant more trees lost for construction and firewood and more land turned to desert.

Failing crops (2019-12) by Practical ActionUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

A New Frontline

20 years on, people are returning to villages which had been burned to the ground. But now they face a new threat. Creeping desertification and erratic rains, made worse by climate change, are turning productive land into desert.

It means people face having to leave their homes once again. But when once people lived on the front line of a civil war, they now live on the front line of devastating climate change.

Suad Allah, a farmer in North Darfur, Practical Action, 2019-10, From the collection of: United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26
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We have been forced to leave once because of the war and we don’t want to have to do the same because of the desert, but we believe we can do it because we don’t give up and we don’t want to lose this land again.

Suad Allah, a farmer in the village of Kafod, North Darfur

Light from the full moon (2019-12) by Practical ActionUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Local Knowledge Is Necessary

The light from the full moon is a welcome sight in Sudan, where only around half of households and businesses have the luxury of electric lights.

Practical Action's new dam in Darfur (2019-10) by Practical ActionUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Water Works

The Korga dam runs for kilometres. It was built with Practical Action’s support after the community helped map the catchment area in 2016.  Our long-standing presence and community links in Darfur helps us understand these local challenges and work together to form solutions.

Our water management techniques store flood water before it runs off, rehabilitating land lost to drought, routing water close by, giving women who collect it, more time for their businesses.

Suliman and Hafiz plant trees (2019-12) by Practical ActionUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Tree Planting To Protect The Land

Farmers Suliman and Hafiz plant trees on previously barren land.  Communities have used our innovative water management techniques to conserve precious water, using it to irrigate farmland and saplings, reviving the soil and protecting land from the encroaching desert.

Sitelnisa and her produce (2019-12) by Practical ActionUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Variety Is The Spice Of Life

Most people living in North Darfur are reliant on millet and sorghum for nutrition. Climate change means that growing and sustaining these crops is becoming more and more difficult.

Our work with farmers, including water management training and introducing hardier seed varieties, aids diversification, soil fertility and avoids mono-cropping.

Sitelnisa at the market (2019-12) by Practical ActionUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Bustling Markets

Through our agricultural and business training, we’re not only helping farmers improve harvests but also work together for a better income.  Since working with us, Sitelnisa is not only growing enough food to feed her family, but she also has enough left over to sell at market.

Suliman, a farmer in North Darfur (2019-12) by Practical ActionUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Green Is In Season

Regreening land that was previously desert shows we can grow the impossible and rejuvenate barren soil.  Trees act as a windbreak, mitigating sandstorms. Tree roots hold soil together, retain water, prevent collapse and crops benefit from the extra nutrients in the soil.   

Sharing knowledge (2019-12) by Practical ActionUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Talented And Passionate Colleagues

Awadalla, from our El Fashir office, talks with Suliman and his family on their farm in North Darfur. Awadalla and other Practical Action experts spend their time in the field, training, advising and supporting communities on the latest farming techniques.

work together and build peace (2019-12) by Practical ActionUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Without Peace, Nothing Is Possible

At our peacebuilding workshops, farmers and pastoralists are meeting to find a shared way forward. 

These neighbours, who have clashed so violently in the past, are working together with our support and coming to new agreements about how farmland and water can be used and shared.

Hafiz and his child (2019-12) by Practical ActionUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Hope For The Next Generation

Tired of barely scratching a living from the land, Hafiz had left his village of Madjoub to work in Khartoum. But when he heard Practical Action were coming to his village he returned to Darfur and learned new skills. 

Hafiz now grows a range of crops, has invested in machinery, focuses on his children’s education, and envisions a brighter future.

Party time in North Darfur (2019-10) by Practical ActionUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

There’s Always Time To Party

Thanks to their hard work and their partnership with Practical Action, villagers in Madjoub are able to cope better with the climate crisis than they ever thought imaginable…so let’s celebrate what is possible!

Credits: Story

The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views and opinions of the UN Climate Change Conference COP26. The mere appearance of the story on this website does not constitute an endorsement by the UN Climate Change Conference COP26. The UN Climate Change Conference COP26 does not make any representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy, applicability, fitness or completeness of third party material included in the story featured.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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