Water in Crisis - Sudan

Alexandra Barton, Guest Writer)

Sudan faces ecological crises like water scarcity and desertification. Rural Sudanese are displaced often by changing landscapes and a lack of agricultural production. The demand for water increases, but its availability to the country's inhabitants continually remains low. Access to water is needed, as much of Sudan's country has become neglected.

The livelihood of Sudan depends on its excess use of its water sources. Eighty percent of the country works in agriculture, which accounts for 97% of its water use. Most farms are rural and fed by rainwater. They provide for a family or a small community, making them the majority means of living for the Sudanese. Yet, their farming practices are hurting the environment. Much of Sudan's land is cultivated by mechanized farming . This intense agricultural system has reduced arable soil, and according the United Nations Environment Programme, has caused desertification to spread. The irrigation used to feed the mechanized farms and intense cultivation by rural Sudanese are causal to the arid environment diffusing over Sudan.

Women and children must devote the most time in their days to gather water from distant sources. They risk their health and safety by bearing frequent trips to a well remote from their home. Additionally, the women lose productivity from other domestic duties. In Sudan about two percent of water is available for domestic use (In the United States, water for domestic use accounts for 13% of total supply).

Most of Sudan's currently accessible underground water is shared with surrounding countries . Sudan utilizes part of the NileRiver Basin, but its use is not regulated or maintained by the government. This unrestrained use of shared water, mostly for irrigation and energy, creates tension with neighboring countries like Egypt and Ethiopia. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) uses the term water stress to refer to a situation where political or economic problems occur because of a lack of water. According to the Water Systems Analysis Group at the University of New Hampshire, about a quarter of Africa's population suffers from this problem. Sudan has a critical case of water stress.

The Sudanese are at high risks for contracting waterborne diseases. In 2006 there were 476 deaths caused by diarrhoea in just five months, with Cholera-causing bacterium present in stool samples. Similarly, the Darfur region had 3753 reported cases of hepatitis E from May to August 2004. Contaminated drinking water may also cause Dracunculiasis, or Guinea Worm Disease. It can rapidly affect a water supply for a village by one infected person, harming the total area. Three out of five cases of Guinea Worm Disease come from Sudan. Open water sources, such as standing ponds, are common modes of transferring diseases in villages.

Environmental changes have left the Sudanese to struggle for their own survival. The country strains to provide clean, accessible water to all regions.

The Water Project has twenty missions to build wells in Sudan that are either in development or have been completed. This well was built for St. Bartholomew's Orphanage, where it now provides clean water for 130 orphans in Southern Sudan. More plans will offer accessible water for thousands of Sudanese.