How water is helping to end 'the first climate change war'

(18 Dec 2019) A pioneering irrigation project in North Darfur is bringing people together again by Damian Carrington in North Darfur, Sudan.

In the arid lands that have seen one of the most brutal wars of the 21st century so far, green shoots of peace may finally be appearing. In the hot Darfur fields farmed by Adam Ali Mohammed, these green shoots are alternating rows of lentils and melons.

“We tried lentils before, but there was not enough water,” the farmer says.

Here in the Sahel, water is the key to life, but there is precious little of it – just 20cm of rain a year – and it is the source of much of the conflict.

The climate crisis is making marginal existences even more fragile. It is no future threat here, with the Sahara marching southwards, temperatures rising and precious annual rains becoming ever more erratic.

But a new approach is bearing fruit. The seasonal river that runs by El Fasher, the capital of Sudan’s North Darfur state, has been transformed by community-built weirs. These slow the flow of the rainy season downpours, spreading water and allowing it to seep into the land. Before, just 150 farmers could make a living here: now, 4,000 work the land by the Sail Gedaim weir.

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, 18 Dec 2019: How water is helping to end 'the first climate change war'