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Environment and the Darfur Crisis

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  1. Environment and the Darfur Crisis Horn of Africa Regional Environmental Network 6 December 2006 Dr Muawia Shaddad – Sudanese Environmental Conservation Society Brendan Bromwich – Tearfund secs1975@yahoo.com dmt-northsudan-env@tearfund.org

  2. Presentation Outline Rationale • Environmental resources are at the heart of Darfurian life • Darfur has a particularly vulnerable natural environment • Climate change and increased population are causes of significant environmental degradation in Darfur • Environmental Degradation is a driver in migration and conflict in Darfur Response • A framework of Sustainable Resource Management in relief • Recovery Development and Adaptation priorities for peace • Robust environmental management to withstand future crises Civil society and Universities must develop key roles in • Informing the relief community and building peace • Mainstreaming adaptation in the recovery process • Rebuilding environmental governance in the context of a breakdown of trust

  3. What does the environment mean to Darfur? • shelter • fuel • land tenure • wealth • coping strategies • livelihoods • cultural identity

  4. Darfur has a particularly vulnerable natural environment and it is deteriorating as a result of climate change • It has low and declining rainfall • As a marginal environment it has a high degree of variability – rainfall has the biggest impact on vegetation in semi arid areas, and this it is rainfall that is variable • Rain falls in only 4 months of the year, and the geology is not favourable for groundwater storage • Current variability is today’s face of ongoing climate change ''We never used to go or stay in neighbouring Cameroon or deep in the southern Sudan, because diseases and insects kill our animals within ten days, now it is very easy to go there and stay'‘ A Camel herder in Darfur

  5. Low and variable rainfallEl Fasher annual rainfall 1917-2005

  6. A geographical context of variability and unpredictabilityVariation in annual maximum vegetation - NDVI

  7. Unfavourable geology for groundwater • little storage except for alluvial deposits and a few favourable outcrops • but mostly basement complex

  8. The Sahel faces very significant impact from climate change – and has little capacity for adaptation

  9. The historical context • Increasing population and decreasing resource base has caused local conflict for many years. • It has been accompanied by conflict, migration and changes in livelihoods, sometimes triggered by climatic crisis – e.g. mid 1980’s • Population densities: • 1973: 4 people per km2 • 1983: 10 people per km2 • 2003: 18 people per km2 • Intensified demand and depletion of yields and carrying capacities • Over the same period, the native administration has been weakened

  10. Environmental degradation and conflict The erosion of clay and gardud soils and the depletion of productive lands in the greater region of Darfur and particularly in northern Darfur as a result of a relentless desertification process over the past several decades, compelled a forced ecological migration and mass population movement southward in search of better conditions for pasture and farming. The ability of local people to adapt to the new realities and the subsequent questions of land use and resource sharing continued to threaten peaceful coexistence in the area and the social cohesion of the entire community. The situation was destined to incite local tensions and provoke violent resource-based conflicts. Ecological imbalance, scarcity of water, deforestation, mismanagement of natural resources, claimed inequality in the distribution of available resources and national projects, and the lack of cooperation have contributed significantly to the present conflict. University for Peace (UPEACE) in collaboration with the Peace Research Institute University of Khartuom 15-16 December 2004

  11. Impacts of the current conflict • Annual destruction of crops – destroying livelihoods • Destruction of villages and assets • Destruction of trees on farmland – undermining established land tenure • Large scale firing of open land • Blocked migration routes – leading to localised overgrazing • Loss of traditional management mechanisms • Major deforestation in the context of lawlessness

  12. Large scale firing of land near Masterei

  13. Impacts of displacement • Massive concentrations of demand for natural resources • Relief programme with new levels of technology and standards of supply • A boom in construction demanding more raw materials • Unmet needs for livelihoods for the displaced • SGBV on a very wide scale “no fuel-saving or improved cooking technologies introduced in Darfur will have a strong impact on the number of women collecting firewood outside the camps or the frequency of collection unless such interventions are accompanied by alternative income generation activities.” Women’s Commission March 2006

  14. Water shortages in North Darfur

  15. Implications for recovery • Prime farmland and shelter belts are currently being lost as IDP camps are located around market towns • Reconstruction requires 30-40 trees per family: 2M displaced need 16M trees. And the longer term • The triggers for violence in the chronic resource based conflict in Darfur have been significantly exacerbated by the current crisis • Climate change will continue to increase the natural variability of the region, and shorten growing periods. These will cause an increase in the frequency of failed harvests.

  16. Terbeba – rebuilding will need thousands of trees

  17. What is the appropriate response? • Ongoing relief work needs to be done within the context of sustainable resource management. • A major effort in recovery, development and adaptation when security allows. • Robust environmental management is needed for the peaceful coexistence of the two traditional competing subsistence livelihood systems; for the additional demands brought on by the new larger urban population; and to withstand the increasing climatic variability.

  18. Sustainable Resource Management in relief • Using environmental assets in a way that doesn’t compromise the future availability of these assets • Ensuring that what is used is within the amount that is being replaced over the same period. This amounts to a do-no-harm approach to environment in the relief context

  19. Some examples of SRM in relief • Livelihoods to restore forestry not deplete it • Wood lots, cash for work, incenitivised forestry • Reduce impact of projects – REA’s & CEMPs • Compensation forestry = cut a tree – fund the replacement of a tree • Groundwater monitoring • Target vulnerable camps • Must be accompanied by good interpretation and management • Improving resource management is practical adaptation

  20. Three priorities – why the network is needed… • Darfurian civil society and Universities to have greater role in relief planning – these institutions: • Have a wealth of appropriate knowledge. • Will be around to build the peace when the UN and INGOs have gone. • Would benefit from capacity building whilst the relief phase is in progress. • Alternative construction and energy technologies must be mainstreamed before recovery. (This is more adaptation work) A well connected civil society and academic community have a major contribution to play in this. • Environmental management and environmental governance need to be rebuilt in Darfur, despite the context of a massive breakdown of trust. So civil society has a key role again.