Hardship and hope in North Darfur

By Ruth Clowes On 20.12.2019

Khadija Osman is a smallholder farmer from the village of Delal in North Darfur, Sudan.

When Khadija was a child, Delal was a wonderful place to live. She remembers the verdant forest that surrounded the vibrant little village, protecting it from the harsh desert winds and enriching the soil. Fresh water was plentiful and the land was fertile. She and her brothers and sisters had enough to eat. Her parents were able to earn an income from selling their excess crops so that the family could keep their house in good repair and buy clothes and other necessities.

Changing times

Khadija is now in her 40s and life in Delal couldn’t be more different. Over the years, she’s watched as the climate crisis has caused rainfall to become less frequent and more erratic. This has made the soil less fertile. In desperation, farmers have cut down the forests so they can farm more land. The village now has no protection from the destructive desert wind. It dries out the farmland, blows away precious topsoil and damages crops, houses and the village school.

“The main struggle for women is collecting water and firewood. Sometimes it takes all day. It’s hard because you’re either carrying a baby on your back or you have one in your belly.”

The only fresh water source is now miles away. Every day, Khadija walks for four hours in the scorching heat to collect water for her family. Every year, she sees her harvest get smaller. When times are really hard, the family get by on one small meal a day. This lack of nutrition hits the youngest children the hardest – more than once, Khadija has had to take one of them to the hospital for treatment because they were so ill.

Water is life

Unless a reliable and sustainable source of fresh water is introduced nearby, the village of Delal will continue to desertify until it’s uninhabitable. This once thriving community of 400 farming families will be lost to the desert and Khadija and her children will be forced to leave their home. But with climate change causing similar challenges for farming communities throughout North Darfur, where will they go?

The solution


Fresh water – for Khadija, her children and their donkeys to drink
Fresh water – so that she can irrigate her crops for bigger, better harvests
Fresh water – to help her community regrow the protective forest


Fresh water – this one simple ingredient has the potential to transform the lives of Khadija, her family and everyone in the village of Delal. We know how to get it to them – but we need your support to make it happen. Together, we can return Delal to the vibrant, thriving farming community it was when Khadija was a child.

With your support, we can turn the tables on climate change in Delal, across North Darfur and around the world.

Donations will go directly to bringing lasting peace and prosperity to communities in North Darfur, and will enable the communities Practical Action work with around the world to turn the tables on climate change.

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