Sam Turuk water pond

A successful response to pastoralists rights

Sudan is endowed with abundant natural resources such as agricultural land, minerals, livestock and oil. The predominant livelihood strategy for the rural majority (representing over 70% of the country population) is agro-pastoralists and this contributes 32% of GDP and 15% of exports. Gedarif State in the east borders Kassala State, Gezira State, Blue Nile State, Eritrea and Ethiopia with a population of 1,567,000 (estimated based on 1993 population census).

livestock drinkingThe Gedarif region represents the southern destination of the nomads and pastoralists; those who move there seasonally from the Blue Nile in the south of Sudan to the Butana area towards the north east. They were suffering shortages of water as the geological formation of the area was dominated by a basement complex, which minimizes the opportunities for ground water. The area is also characterized by the diminishing natural pastures as a result of the expansion of the mechanized farming against the natural pastures. The competition over the natural grazing has alsobeen increasing.

With a grant from the Nile Basin Initiative, Practical Action Sudan launched development innovations for Sam Turuk natural water pond in Gedarif area, which is considered as the central destination on the seasonal route of the nomads and pastoralists.

The Sam Turuk natural water pond had become over silted and its storage capacity reduced to so that it is only capable of catching enough water for two month after the rainy season. The local community pastoral groups from Bandeghaio Administrative Unit, Doka Locality of Gedaref State decided to deepen the natural water reservoir so that it can store more water for livestock and human consumption after the rainy season. The nomadic tribes of the area are livestock herders and they are practicing agropastoral modes of livelihood. During the rainy season, they move with their herds to the famous grazing area in eastern Sudan, the Butana Plains. They stay there for two to three months before they are forced to move south to stay near the Rahad River due to a shortage of water.

Their presence along the River causes them many problems as they compete with the people who live in the same area on the meager water resources available especially when the summer season advances and the river forms only small scattered ponds.

livestock feedingWhile moving from Butana to Rahad summer camping areas they pass across farms and are subjected to legal fines as the farmer's claim that they trespass on their farmland and cause damage to their farms. Inadequate range resources along the riverbanks also force the pastoral people to take their livestock to graze within the buffer zone of Dinder National Park. On many occasions the wild life guards arrested pastoral people, confiscated their livestock, and took them to court for violating the rules that livestock are not allowed to graze within the buffer zone of the park.

Practical Action Sudan addressed these problems and implemented the deepening of the natural water reservoir of Sam Turuk. This helped the nomadic tribes along the nomadic routes and also helped the pastoral people to keep their livestock out of the conflict areas for longer periods and provided valuable natural grazing areas.

Practical Action provided training to the nomads' women on how to process milk and produce dairy products during the rainy season. It worked closely with the local community (Ban Deghaio Pastoral Union) to register the area as a range land before they started increasing the depth of the water reservoir. It introduced the local community to the Range and Pasture Administration (RPA) of Gedaref State and involved the RPA staff in the operation of reseeding the area around the water reservoir and along the livestock routes.

The most valuable impacts of this initiative are the contacts that were made with Gedaref State, as a result a ministerial decree was issued allocating the Natural water Catchments Pond of Sam Turuk and the surrounding lands to the targeted nomadic groups. The natural water pond catches water for the whole dry season and its capacity increased by 5,600 cubic meters; hence nomads secured better water and pasture resources. Food preservation (in particular dairy products) contributed to the healthy nutrition of the mothers and their children. The nomads learned how to make their development successful and how to improve their livelihoods whilst increasing security in the region.

This article appeared in issue 14 of Practical Action Sudan's newsletter, Sharing

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