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9.1 Introduction

Sudan’s environmental strategy stems from its constitution, its various strategic and development plans over the past few decades, its response to droughts and other environmental crises, and its commitments under multilateral environmental agreements, including the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals.

Its environmental policies are aimed at rehabilitating, conserving and protecting the country’s natural resources, while also regulating the economic activities that have an impact on those resources, such as mining, agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism. Meanwhile its social policies, which target issues such as poverty and population growth, seek to deal with some of the root causes of Sudan’s environmental problems.

The challenge is to drive increased production in agriculture, livestock, fisheries, water, manufacturing, petroleum and gas, mining, trade, infrastructure, transport and construction while at the same time to maintain or improve the quality of soil, air, watersheds, forests, rangelands and pastures, wildlife, marine and freshwater fisheries, and biodiversity.

While there have been successes, in general environmental protection in Sudan has been held back by gaps and overlaps in certain policies and by the unintended consequences of others, as well as by a lack of policy coordination and weak enforcement and implementation. For example, the policy of increasing the area under irrigated agriculture, which involved huge investments in new dams and canals, led to the removal of large areas of forest, rangeland and pasture (Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Physical Development 2015; Hassan and Tag Consultants 2018; Sullivan and Nasallah 2010).

9.2 Environmental Policy Landscape

The government’s environmental policies cut across many different sectors, including natural resources, biodiversity, climate change, poverty reduction and economic development. Protecting the environment requires engagement from all sections of society. For example, to adapt to climate change, achieve sustainable development or improve the country’s resilience against natural disasters, the government must address issues in health, agriculture, water harvesting, community forests, communal pastures, coastal zones and much more.

Some policies are aimed at tackling deep-seated economic stresses, while others offer “band aid” solutions to immediate environmental concerns; some act as incentives to boost economic production, while others seek to protect against environmental degradation.

Among the major strategies and plans that have shaped the country’s environmental strategy are the 10-Year Development Plan 1960-1970, the consecutive Five-Year and Seven-Year development plans of the 1970s, the National Economic Salvation Programme 1992-1993, the 10-Year National Comprehensive Strategy 1992-2002, and the 25-Year Development Strategy 2007-2031. The latter was reformulated into the Three-Year Economic Recovery Programme 2012-2014 after the secession of South Sudan, and continued into the Five-Year Economic Reform Programme 2015-2019 (Ministry of Finance and National Economy 2015a)

The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Interim National Constitution have had a big impact on Sudan’s environmental strategy. They specified the need to develop policies and laws to resolve land use and land tenure problems, and offered insights for achieving a clean environment and protecting the country’s biodiversity, among other things. Since then the government has produced the National Action Plan on Desertification Control 2006, the National Adaptation Programme of Action 2007 under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (Ministry of Environment and Physical Development 2007), various versions of the Sudan Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (International Monetary Fund 2013; Ali and Hassan 2016), the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2015-2019, and the Sudan National Adaptation Plan 2016 (Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Physical Development 2016).

Appendix 1 contains a more comprehensive list of Sudan’s economic and natural resources policies that have implications for the environment.

9.2.1 Macroeconomic policies

Macroeconomic policies aim to address issues that affect the whole economy, including many that are at the root of environmental degradation. They are largely monetary and fiscal policies designed and implemented by the Central Bank of Sudan and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

Some of Sudan’s current macroeconomic policies date back to the economic liberalization programme of 1992-1993, and more recently to the economic reform programme of 2012-2014, which was later recast as the Five-Year Economic Reform Programme 2015-2019 (Ministry of Finance and National Economy 2015a). The economic liberalization policies of the early 1990s transformed the economy from a state-controlled economic system into a market-based one (Ministry of Finance and National Economy 1992, World Food Programme 2018). They involved halting inflation, reducing government expenditure, increasing government revenues, extending credit lines, privatising state enterprises, floating Sudan’s currency and eliminating subsidies on basic goods such as sugar, fuel and energy.

These reforms were critical in framing the country’s present macroeconomic policies. They had both positive and negative impacts on the economy, and consequently on the environmental situation in Sudan. For the most part, they did not provide the necessary stability to encourage investment into the country.

9.2.2 Economic policies

Many of Sudan’s economic policies have a direct effect on the environment and sustainable development, particularly those directed at agriculture, livestock, oil exploration and artisanal gold mining.

The principal aims of Sudan’s agricultural policy have been to improve the country’s food security and increase export earnings. The policies have supported the expansion of public irrigation schemes, modelled on the schemes in Gezira, and private sector rain-fed mechanized schemes in the eastern and central regions of the country (Khalifa et al. 2012; Elsiddig 2013; FAO 2016). The private sector mechanized schemes emphasize mono-cropping of sorghum at the expense of the traditional ecological farming practices that are applied in most parts of the country.

The objective of the livestock policy has been to increase earnings from live animal and meat exports. The sustainable supply of live animals depends on them being able to graze on natural pastures, an organic approach that avoids the need for growth hormones. The policy aims to rehabilitate, conserve, protect and sustain pastures and rangelands to allow them to support an optimal number of animals. In 2010, the Range and Pasture Administration was brought into the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Livestock Resources; previously it had been under the Ministry of Agriculture, and at another time the Ministry of Livestock Resources and Fisheries.

Sudan’s policies on oil production and gold mining have resulted in the clearing of large areas of forest and rangeland for drilling and mining operations. This has had serious socio-economic and environmental consequences. Oil drilling, for example, has contaminated large areas of water, forests and pastures in West Kordofan (Pantuliano and Egemi 2009). Artisanal gold mining, which takes place in more than ten states and employs more than one million people, has caused serious damage to the environment (Ministry of Finance and National Economy of Sudan 2015b); in the Butana area it destroyed pastures and pushed out livestock farmers, forcing them to graze their animals on the crop lands in Gadaref State (Food and Agriculture Organization 2013).

Oil companies are required to pay two per cent of their revenues to the state in which they are working. This policy has not yet been imposed on gold miners. The environmental and social impacts of gold mining are covered by the Mineral Wealth and Mining Act 2015, as well as by other more general legislation such as the Environmental Protection Act 2001, the Environmental Health Act 2009, the Child Act 2010 and the Labour Act 1997.

9.2.3 Natural resources policies

Sudan’s natural resources policies aim to reduce the impact of development on forests, wildlife, biodiversity, soil and water resources, and to increase the resilience of natural ecosystems to climate change.

The modified forestry policies that came into force in 1986 were designed to protect, rehabilitate, conserve and develop the forest sector (Elsiddig 2013). One of the objectives was to expand the area under forest reserve to 20 per cent of the country’s total area. Another was to recognize new forms of forest tenure including private, communal and institutional forests, to add to the existing forms of tenure which included public forests and forest reserves (UN Environment Programme and UKaid 2020). There was also an intention to plant five per cent of the country’s irrigated land and ten per cent of its rain-fed schemes with tree belts according to the Forest Act 1989 (Ministry of Agriculture and Forests 2000).

The Sudan National Forestery Policy Statement of 2006 broadened the scope of the country’s forest policy, covering poverty reduction, food security, desertification, reforestation, conserving biodiversity, land use planning, industrialization and the economic valuation of forest products and services (FAO 2006). However, the policy statement is silent on important issues such as drinking water for animals, grazing for livestock and wildlife, and the effects of climate change (UN Environment Programme and UKaid 2020).

Sudan’s wildlife directives and policies emphasize the conservation of habitats, the development of national parks, and the protection of wild animals – especially endangered species – against illegal hunting (Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Physical Development 2015). For example, the Environment Protection Act 2001 forbids the destruction of wildlife habitats and the poaching of animals, and prohibits the introduction of genetically modified organisms.

Sudan’s national water resources policies of 1992, 2000, 2006 and 2011 have marked a continual improvement in the management of watersheds of Sudan (UN Environment Programme 2012; UN Environment Programme and UKaid 2020; Ministry of Irrigation and Water 1999; Ministry of Justice 2020). The policies aim to ensure enough supplies of water for agriculture, industry, health, energy, transportation and domestic uses (Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Physical Development 2013). The 2011 policy addresses the streamlining of the UN Millennium Development Goals into national policies and plans.

Biodiversity policies are decided jointly by the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Physical Development and the Higher Council for Environment and Natural Resources. The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Pla of 2000 and 2015 aim to stop the deterioration of the country’s biological resources, preserve the genetic resources of its flora and fauna, and incorporate Sudan’s obligations under the 1992 United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity into national strategies. They also address the critical problem of mismanagement of natural resources, and the expected effects of climate change (Ministry of Environment and Physical Development 2007; Elsiddig 2013; Republic of Sudan 2015). Another objective is to synchronize natural resources policies across the different sectors.

The biodiversity strategy has had limited success. The increasing livestock population, oil drilling and mining have exacerbated land degradation and the loss of biodiversity in many parts of Sudan. There are many policy gaps. For example, there is no plan yet to deal with alien invasive plants such as mesquite shrubs (Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Physical Development 2015).

Pollution and waste are major problems in Sudan. Municipal solid waste, industrial waste, medical waste and electronic waste are not properly controlled and are a threat to human health and the environment in urban and rural areas. Another issue is the use of unlicensed chemical pesticides and fertilizers, as well as the illegal dumping of chemicals. Air pollution is covered by the Environment Protection Act 2001, which requires industries with potentially polluting emissions to carry out an environment and social impact assessment and abide by health and sanitation laws.

While dealing with waste and pollution will be costly, the potential growth of the recycling sector in Sudan could present some lucrative opportunities.

9.3 Assessing Sudan’s Environmental Policies

Between 1970 and 2018, Sudan’s agricultural land increased from 10 million feddans (4.2 million hectares) to 40-50 million feddans (16.8-21 million hectares), and its livestock numbers from 40 million to 105 million (Central Bank of Sudan 2015). Over this period, the government has invested in irrigation dams, hydropower projects and water harvesting programmes (FAO 2015a). These long-term policies for growth and development still shape the pattern of land use in the country. To meet the needs of a fast-growing population, the government continues to prioritise food production, private sector investment in farming, the expansion of irrigated agriculture, oil exploration and gold mining.

This focus on agriculture, oil and mining has resulted in deforestation, degradation of forests and rangelands, and widespread pollution of land, water and air (see Section 9.3.2 below). Many of these threats will remain as long as the government fails to address people’s economic insecurity. For example, one reason for the degradation of pastures is that pastoralists are being forced to graze their animals in increasingly small spaces because of oil exploration, mining operations and the expansion of croplands.

In other areas, Sudan has adequate protection policies but is failing to apply them effectively. The threats to biodiversity from wildlife poaching, uncontrolled fishing, coastal pollution and the introduction of new plant species and the loss of indigenous ones will continue unless the government commits its planning and financial resources towards adopting and implementing its National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan.

Ineffective policies and the mismanagement of natural resources are compounded by climate change. This is already reflected in recurrent droughts, desertification, deforestation, overgrazing of pastures, degraded biodiversity, reduced crop and food production and increased crop and animal pests. These often result in poverty and food insecurity, especially among rural communities. More land is becoming unsuitable for crop production or animal grazing, and some land has been so degraded that dust storms are becoming common.

Sudan is party to several international and regional conventions. Among the most important is the UNFCCC, which came into force in 1994. In 2007, the country produced its National Adaptation Programme of Action, which among other things highlighted its vulnerability to climate change and identified ways to adapt (Ministry of Environment and Physical Development 2007). In 2016, Sudan prepared a further National Adaptation Plan, which shifted the focus for climate change adaptation to sustainable agricultural development. Sudan also developed its Intended National Determined Contributions (INDC) in the framework of Paris Declaration of 2015 and its ratification by the government of Sudan in August 2017.

Sudan is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which restricts the trade in endangered species such as the Greater Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) and Rock hyrax (Procavia capensis) (Abdelhameed et al 2013); the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which aims to both conserve biodiversity and promote its sustainable use; and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (Sudan has several designated Ramsar sites, including Dinder National Park). The country’s commitment to CITES and CBD in particular have helped address the gaps in its wildlife laws (UNEP 2012; Ministry of Justice 2020). A comprehensive list of the international conventions to which Sudan is a party is found in chapter 2.

9.3.1 Impact of selected environmental legislation

Land tenure laws

One of the most important areas of legislation for both agriculture and the environment is land tenure and land use.

The use of land for agriculture is covered by Presidential Decree No. 34, while the use of land for residency and other purposes is covered by the Land Settlement and Registration Ordinance 1925, the Unregistered Land Act 1970 and the Civil Transaction Act 1984 (Sullivan and Nasallah 2010).

These land laws have allowed recognition of tribal and individual usufruct rights – the right to enjoy another person’s property without abusing it – and inheritance rights, as well as opening the way for compensation for land appropriated by the state (World Food Programme 2018). Most land use for traditional farming and grazing operates under the usufruct system. The complexity of the country’s land tenure and land use laws have made it difficult to allocate land for private sector investment (World Food Programme 2018), and to distinguish between the rights of local communities and those of the public and private sectors (Sullivan and Nasallah 2010). This issue was addressed in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

Native Administration Act

Another prominent piece of legislation in Sudan is the Native Administration Act 1991 and 1998, which authorizes traditional leaders and local communities to guide the conservation and protection of forests, pastures and livestock corridors. The Local Government Act 1998 further strengthened this act by establishing rural courts and giving judicial powers to native leaders, which enabled them to work with local governments, the Forest National Corporation, the Range and Pasture Administration, and state wildlife and agriculture departments (Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Physical Development 2013).

Federal and state governance

In 1991, the responsibility for environmental policy in Sudan was divided between the federal and state governments (UNEP 2012; FAO 2015a). This was a significant milestone in the country’s policy landscape. The federal government is responsible for policy design and the state governments are responsible for administering and executing those policies. The Local Government Act 1989 and 2003 entrusts local governments with the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources at a community level. Typical roles include the management of drinking water points, reforestation, the provision of services to agriculture and the management of livestock grazing (UNEP 2012; Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Physical Development 2013).

This division of responsibility between federal and state government has brought challenges. Institutional roles sometimes overlap or are poorly coordinated: for example, the legislation proposed the establishment of local consultative councils to administer and manage the country’s environmental resources, but their functions overlapped with those of existing federal government departments. In addition, local law enforcement and policy implementation have been poorly funded by central government.

Water resources

Sudan’s water laws cover the country’s rivers, basins and catchment areas, as well as groundwater resources (FAO 2015a; Ministry of Justice 2020; UNEP 2012). The main aim is to provide equity and transparency in water services. However, effective management depends on functional institutions, which are often non-existent.

Some states and localities have built their own institutions to allow them to maintain and govern their water supplies (UNEP 2012; FAO 2015b). This has created confusion in cases where states share water resources; for example, South and North Kordofan States and White Nile State all share the seasonal water stream of Khor Abu Habil. Too often, state-level institutions have no clear mandate, are short of human resources or are poorly funded (Ministry of Environment and Physical Development 2007).

Environmental impact assessments

The Environment Protection Act 2001 harmonizes different environmental laws, including laws covering biodiversity protection, pollution control, public environmental awareness, and environmental and social impact assessments (Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Physical Development 2013). Despite federal and state legislation stipulating the need to conduct environmental impact assessments, too often they are carried out without following guidelines and regulations, and monitoring and follow-up are ineffective. This has led to several incidents of chemical pollution along the banks of the Nile.

Wildlife, national parks and forests

The Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act 1986 covers the conservation, protection, development and management of game animals and national parks. It lists protected species and provides regulations on hunting licenses, hunting seasons and permissible hunting methods. The act does not cover the conservation of plants and trees, and it ignores community participation in management plans (Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Physical Development 2015).

The Forests and Renewable Natural Resources Act 2002 provides the framework for the management and protection of forests and renewable natural resources, including pastures and rangelands. The act stipulates that trees should be left standing on five per cent of irrigated agricultural land and ten per cent of rain-fed agricultural land (Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Physical Development 2013; Elsiddig and Abdel Magid 2012), though these targets are lagging due to a lack of adequate enforcement measures.

Table 9.1: A history of environmental legislation in Sudan, 1901-2018

Period Remarks
1901 Endorsement of the first Forest Act
1905 Land Registration Act
1908 Amendments of the 1901 Forest Act
1917 Amendments of the 1908 Forest Act
1925 Land Settlement and Registration Ordinance
1932 Endorsement of the Forest Policy Statement
1932 Enactments of provincial and central forests ordinances
1939 Endorsement of the Royalty Ordinance
1939 National Park Ordinance – amended 1986
1948 Reform of the Provincial Forest Act to delegate power to the local level
1954 Freshwater Fisheries Act to protect the freshwater fisheries of the Sudan and to regulate and control fishing. Amended in 1988
1959 Reform of the Provincial Forest Act to centralize the approval of establishing new sawmills
1959 Amendments of the Royalty Ordinance to halt tree felling.
1960 Water-hyacinth Control Act for the control and prevention of the spreading of water-hyacinth in rivers and waterways in Sudan
1961 Endorsement of Provincial Administration Act and reform of the Central Forest Act
1970 Unregistered Land Act
1974 Both central and provincial forest acts were reformed to allow more protection to forest resources
1975 Environmental Health Act
1977 Labour Act
1980 Endorsement of the Regional Government Act
1981 Endorsement of the Local People Government Act
1984 Civil Transaction Act. The Act repeals the 1970 Unregistered Land Act and maintains the principles of usufruct rights
1986 Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act
1989 Enactment of the Forest Act 1989
1990 Irrigation and Drainage Act. All irrigation and drainage activities require a licence from the Ministry of Irrigation
1991 The Native Administration Acts of 1991 and 1998
1991 Federal-decentralization system of governance put into place
1995 Water Resources Act
1995 Freshwater Fisheries Act
1998 Petroleum Wealth Act
1999 Investment Encouragement Act. This was initiated in the 1980s and amended several times, most recently in 2011 and 2013
2001 Environment Protection Act – amended 2020
2001 Pharmaceuticals and Poisons Law
2002 Forests and Renewable Natural Resources Act
2003 Local Government Act (updated from 1989 Act)
2005 Interim National Constitution of the Republic of Sudan; includes protection of natural resources
2009 Combat Desertification Law
2009 North Darfur State Environmental Protection Act
2009 North Darfur State Land Use Act
2010 The State of Khartoum Law for Environmental Protection
2012 North Darfur State Desertification Control Act
2013 North Darfur State Tree-belts and Wind Breakers Act
2015 Rangelands Regulation and Forages Resources Development Act
2015 The Mineral Resources and Mining Act
2015 National Bio-safety Law No. 15
2015 Decree of Council of Ministries No. 283 – bans cutting of forest trees, develops protocol and plan for great afforestation campaign
2016 Dinder – Jebal Al Dair National Park Law
2016 North Kordofan State Law of Protection and Promotion of the Urban Environment No. 17
2017 Development of Mineral Resources Law
2018 Blue Nile State Law requiring farmers to plant trees on ten per cent of rain-fed agricultural land and five per cent of irrigated land, in line with the provisions of the federal law

Source: Hassan and Tag Consultants (January 2018)

9.3.2 Unintended consequences of environmental legislation

In its efforts to achieve economic growth, the Sudanese government adopted policies that promoted the expansion of agriculture, livestock, oil exploration, gold mining and construction. This has had unintended consequences for the environment, including deforestation, encroachment into rangelands and pastures, destruction of protected areas, loss of biodiversity, and pollution of soil, water and atmosphere.

The expansion of agriculture, mining and other developments has intensified competition for land and water between crop farmers and pastoralists, and some pastoralists have been forced to take their herds into marginal lands (Sullivan and Nasallah 2010). This competition for resources also affects wildlife, with large numbers of game animals being driven out of their natural habitats and into grazing lands. Some species have become endangered as a result (UNEP 2008).

Other examples of policies having unintended negative consequences include the introduction of mesquite, which was planted during the 1983-1984 drought to stop desert encroachment and ended up spreading and threatening the country’s agriculture and biodiversity (Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Physical Development 2015); and the hosting of internally displaced persons and refugees, which in some areas has resulted in deforestation or the destruction of forest biodiversity (Elsiddig 2013; Hassan and Tag Consultants 2018).

9.3.3 Policy gaps and overlaps

Despite a long list of laws, there are still gaps and overlaps in Sudan’s environmental policies. For example, the country does not have a clear policy to combat land degradation and deseritification. In the 1970s and 1980s, the government introduced the Desert Encroachment Control and Rehabilitation Programme and various soil conservation, reforestation and resource protection programmes. Although the Combat Desertification Law of 2009 included the establiahment of the National Council for Combating Desertification (NCCD), this council was actually established in 2018, only to be dissolved in 2020. However, there is a lack of an intersectoral approach regarding integrate forestry activities and land use into the social, economic and developmental processes of the country (Saad et al 2018).

Sudan also lacks clear policies to deal with drought and climate change, despite the country facing many cycles of drought over the last decades. The 1983-1984 droughts resulted in large numbers of internally displaced people from North Kordofan moving to Khartoum for shelter and refuge. The government is committed to international conventions on climate change, but as yet there are no local measures in place to reduce the risks (UNEP 2012; Elsiddig 2013).

There is an absence of appropriate and coherent policies on natural resource management. This largely stems from a lack of participation by affected groups in policy creation. For example, forest policies are often drawn up by forest staff. This results in policies that are focused on the protection of forests and the planting of trees, and that fail to address the rights of communities to use the forests. Similarly, the design of agricultural policies often exclude representatives of rangelands and pastures, resulting in policies that do not address the daily needs of those communities.

Many of these policy gaps and overlaps are due to the lack of a clear distinction between the roles of federal and state institutions (UNEP 2012; Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Physical Development 2015). When it is not obvious who is responsible for formulating policy, the outcome is either a policy that does not work, or no policy at all.


9.3.4 Policy coordination

Some environmental policies in Sudan suffer from a lack of coordination between the government bodies responsible for planning and implementing them. The poor coordination is found at both federal and state levels, and particularly between federal and state institutions.

The staff responsible for designing and implementing environmental policies are spread among multiple governmental agencies, specialized authorities and consultative institutions. These include the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Physical Development, the Tourism Administration, the Higher Council for Environment and Natural Resources, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, the Ministry of Water Resources, Irrigation and Electricity, the Council for Water Resources, the Ministry of Livestock Resources and Fisheries, the Range and Pastures Administration, the Ministry of Interior, the Wildlife Administration and the Attorney General (FAO 2015a).

Between them these agencies cover a range of concerns, including crop production, animal health, forestry, rangelands and pastures, fisheries, wildlife and irrigation. Each agency has its own legislative advisory department, specialized research division and technology transfer department. If they found a way to coordinate better, the policies they all work on would be significantly more effective.

9.3.5 Enforcement and implementation

Much environmental legislation is prepared at the federal level and implemented at the state level. Too often federal institutions do not take the interests and limitations of states and local communities into account when formulating policy (UN Environment Programme and UKaid 2020). Policies are poorly executed, partly because of budgetary constraints, partly because of a lack of qualified personnel (Elsiddig 2013). This explains, for example, the failure to raise the production of gum Arabic to 500 000 tonnes and exports to 300 000 tonnes per year, as stipulated in the Five-Year Economic Reform Programme 2015-2019; to enforce the plan to plant five per cent of the country’s irrigated land and ten per cent of its rain-fed schemes with tree belts; and to meet the Forest National Corporation’s target of covering 20 per cent of the country’s land area with forests by planting 6.58 million hectares of trees (as Table 6.9 in Chapter 6 shows, the total area planted during 2002-2017 was only 3.61 million feddans or 1.52 million hectares).

9.3.6 Potential for upscaling and replication

Some natural resource policies have had a positive impact on the environment and society, resulting in them being scaled up and replicated. These successes have been in the areas of forestry, rangelands and pastures, wildlife and water resources. They include the introduction of liquified petroleum gas stoves into rural areas to reduce the cutting of forest trees for firewood; the rehabilitation of the degraded Nabag Reserve Forest in South Kordofan State; the revitalization of gum Arabic production and marketing in various localities in Blue Nile, Sennar, White Nile, North and South Kordofan states; and the carbon sequestration project in Kordofan region (see Boxes 1 and 2).

Box 1: Examples of natural resource policy success

Introduction of liquified petroleum gas stoves into rural areas. Practical Action in North Darfur supplied 8,980 liquified petroleum gas stoves, which reduced firewood consumption by 50-70 per cent, improved the quality of indoor air, and allowed households to reduce their monthly spending on firewood by up to 65 per cent.

Rehabilitation of the degraded Nabag Reserve Forest in South Kordofan in 2004. The Forest National Corporation introduced an agro-forestry system, raised community awareness on the economic value of agro-forest management, the community and private sector planted 2,018 hectares with acacia trees, distributed 0.6-3.0 hectares to more than 70 per cent of households for growing of high value crops (beans, cowpeas, sesame, maize and rosella). This increased the average income of households by 145 per cent (Elsiddig and Abdel Magid 2012).

Revitalizing the Sudan Gum Arabic Production and Marketing Project. Supported by multi-donor trust fund and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. Formed gum Arabic production associations from communities in localities in the Blue Nile, Sinnar, White Nile, North and South Kordofan states. Constructed 14 water yards, water stations and 4 hafirs. Established 12 warehouses for storage of gum Arabic. Purchased 16 tractors for agricultural operations. Conducted training and workshops on microfinance, financial management and agro-forestry. Increased beneficiaries from 9,571 to 11,346 during 2004-2011, including women who constituted up to 25 per cent of members of the project (International Fund for Agricultural Development 2009; Elsiddig and Abdel Magid 2012).

Box 2: Forest carbon sequestration projects

The Range and Pastures Administration, with support from the United Nations Development Programme, carried out two carbon sequestration programmes in Kassala and North Kordofan states. The Gireigikh Community Rangeland carbon sequestration project in North Kordofan promoted climate change adaptation, biodiversity conservation and the re-vegetation of degraded lands. It encouraged the adoption of sustainable rotation grazing practices, restored the balance between grazing animals and the carrying capacity of pastures, helped increase the absorption of carbon gas emission into soil and plants, supported the growing of drought-tolerant crops, and planted native trees and tree belts that stopped sand encroachment and protected the croplands of 30 farms (Elsiddig and Abdel Magid 2012; Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Physical Development 2013).

9.4 Conclusion

While Sudan has a long history in environmental policy-making, more effort is needed to streamline its policies and ensure that federal and state institutions cooperate to implement them properly. While some policies have proved ineffective – either because they are poorly implemented or weakly enforced – there have also been a number of success stories.

To reverse the general trend towards environmental degradation, the government will need to increase funding for environmental protection and improve the ability of its institutions to enforce its laws. Currently its development policies seem to favour agriculture, oil and mining, to the detriment of human health and environmental protection.

Meanwhile the government’s efforts to collaborate with other countries in setting the global environmental agenda should be applauded. Its response to climate change, which is focused on increasing Sudan’s ability to adapt, should help reduce the country’s vulnerability and increase its resilience to conditions that are beyond the country’s control and capacity.


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Annex 1: Environmental implications of selected economic and natural resources policies

Policy Goals, policy, targets Environmental implications
Macroeconomic polices
10-Year National Comprehensive Strategy (1992-2002) together with Liberalization Policy (1992-1993) Reform exchange rate and credit supplies.

Remove subsidies on basic commodities.

Increase tax revenues.

Increased prices and cost of living especially for the poor, forcing them to exploit more natural resources, including clearing of land for agriculture and firewood.
25-Year Development Strategy (2007-2031) Increase GDP by 7 per cent per year.

Increase export earnings as share of GDP.

Reduce poverty by more than 50 per cent.

Expansion in mining leading to forest loss and encroachment into rangelands, pastures and wetlands.

Deforestation and overgrazing due to expansion of agriculture.

Competition between crop farmers and pastoralists over land and water resources.

3-Year Economic Recovery Programme (2012-2014) Remove subsidies on fuel and electricity. Increased prices and cost of living especially for the poor.

Poor households exploiting more natural resources, especially forests as a substitute for energy.

Increased use of cheap but low-grade fuels by rickshaws, resulting in increased air pollution.

5-Year Economic Reform Programme (2015-2019) Prioritize private sector manufacturing and extractive industries for exports.

Provide adequate finance for productive and basic services sectors.

Provide adequate finance for security and defence.

Gradual removal of subsidies.

Expansion of mining into forests, rangelands and pastures.

Deforestation and overgrazing.

Loss of biodiversity due to encroachment into sensitive ecosystems such as wetlands.

Selected economic policies
Agricultural policies Promote ecological balance of rain-fed agriculture, incorporating forests, rangelands and pastures, as well as water harvesting programmes.

Carry out national land use mapping.

Rehabilitate existing irrigation schemes.

Adopt and expand efficient irrigation methods.

Increase production and productivity.

Improve food security and rural development.

Expand water harvesting programmes in rain-fed area.

Increase budget allocation to agriculture.

Improve agricultural research and extension services.

Make microfinance available to small farmers.

Promote public-private investment in agriculture.

Increased the area under forests, rangelands and pasture.

Improved the country’s biodiversity.

Improved crop management.

Increased mixed farming of livestock and crops, and reduced pressure on forests, rangelands and pastures.

Reduced competition and conflict over land between crop farmers and pastoralists.

Allowed better land planning and management.

Improved crop productivity per unit area, and reduced need for expansion of farmland.

Reduced poverty and expanded livelihood opportunities, resulting in reduced deforestation, land degradation and desertification.

Increased uptake of clean forms of energy, especially solar power.

Livestock, rangeland and pasture policies
The 10-Year National Comprehensive Strategy (1992-2002) Reform exchange rate, credit supplies and taxes.

Remove subsidies on basic commodities.

Increase exports of livestock.

Reserve 25 per cent of land for pastures.

Register 15 per cent of land as reserved land.

Rehabilitate, conserve and protect natural resources.

Overgrazing and reduced carrying capacity of pastures.

Lack of access to grazing land, water points and livestock routes.

Introduction of invasive plants and grasses.

Forest degradation.

Conflict between livestock herders and crop producers.

Increased carbon emissions.

The 25-Year Development Strategy (2007-2031) Establish animal production industry to meet domestic and export market demands.

Increase public finance to agriculture and livestock sectors to increase their relative share of GDP.

Create capacities to become an international centre for producing and marketing hygienic red meat from livestock fed on natural fodder.

Allocate 25 per cent of land for grazing and forests to benefit livestock and wildlife.

Competition over land and water.

Conflicts of land tenure.

Desertification, deforestation.

Destruction of palatable plants and grasses, spread of invasive plants and grasses.

Concentration of animals around water points destroying the ecology.

Increased gas emissions from animals.

Livestock movement creates airborne dust pollution.

Ministry of Agriculture policies up to 1998 and 2010-2014 Promote area and quality of pasture land, introducing good grass seeds and expanding irrigation systems.

Introduce ecological rangeland and pasture land enclosures.

Promote balance between carrying capacity of pastures and number of grazing animals.

Transfer marginal lands into pastures.

Rehabilitation of marginal land would increase area under natural pastures, increase carrying capacity of rangeland and pasture, reduce overgrazing and degradation of pasture and reduce livestock damage to crops.
5-Year Economic Reform Programme (2015-2019) Increase numbers of all livestock types.

Integrate animals into crop rotation in the irrigated schemes.

Increase capacity and quality of natural rangelands and pastures.

Increased grazing pressure on pastures.

Reduced livestock damage to crops.

Reduce friction between crop producers and pastoralists.

Livestock and fisheries policies Expand livestock numbers and production for export.

Improve range and pasture quality through use of improved seed and increased water supplies.

Control epidemic diseases.

Comply with international quality and sanitation measures for export of livestock, red meat and animal by-products.

Improve fisheries resources to meet domestic and international demand.

Rehabilitation and reseeding programmes for pastures.

Conservation and protection of pastures and improved grazing management.

Increased production of livestock per unit area.

Increased exports of livestock.

Increased consumption of fish and reduced dependence on red meat.

Reduced marine freshwater pollution.

Petroleum policies
25-Year Development Strategy (2007-2031)

5-Year Economic Reform Programme (2015-2019)

Increase crude oil production.

Identify new reserves.

Expand investment in oil sector.

Provide security for investors engaged in exploration and production of oil resources.

Decrease environmental contamination resulting from energy and mining activities.

Increase and improve oil production levels.

Increased competition over land and water.

Conflict over unclear land tenure arrangements.

Increased vulnerability to desertification and deforestation, causing reduced rangeland and pasture areas, overgrazing and land degradation.

Increased pollution of soils, water and air, affecting health of humans and animals and threatening biodiversity.

Mining sector policies
25-Year Development Strategy (2007-2031)

5-Year Economic Reform Programme (2015-2019)

Expand exploration and exploitation of mineral resources.

Comprehensive investment policy on mining and mineral wealth.

Increased exports of gold.

Expansion of artisanal mining into rangelands, pastures and forests.

Competition and conflict over land and water.

Increased deforestation.

Reduced area of rangelands and pastures, causing overgrazing and land degradation and threatening biodiversity.

Pollution from toxic chemicals such as mercury.

Forestry policies
Forest Policy (1932), modified in 1986

National Forestry Policy Statement (2006)

Encourage forest reserves and conservation.

Recognize new forms of forest tenure (private, community and institutional forests).

Target 20 per cent of the land area as forest reserves.

Stress protective role of forests in rain-fed mechanized and irrigated schemes by planting green belts.

Protecting , establishing and developing forestry resources in Sudan.

Limiting cutting of trees in reserves areas

15% of rainfed scheme ad not less than 5% of irrigared scheme to be used as forest.

Reserving not less than 20% of Sudan area as forests

Increased vegetation cover.

Better use and management of forests.

Protection of farms from wind erosion by tree belts.

Increased volume and value of gum Arabic revenues.

Combating the dangers of desertification at the national level

Conservation of biodiversity

Climate change mitigation

Wildlife sector polices
10-Year National Comprehensive Strategy (1992-2002) Reserve 25 per cent of land for wildlife.

Register 15 per cent of reserved land.

Rehabilitate, conserve and protect natural resources.

Rehabilitate wildlife habitat.

Enhance safe return and sustainability of wild animals.

Protect parks against deterioration.

The 25-Year Development Strategy (2007-2031) Allocate 25 per cent of land for grazing and forests to benefit livestock and wildlife.

Promote tourism.

Establish enclosures and new nature reserves.

Conserve and invest in preserving wildlife.

Balancing livestock-wildlife grazing would reduce overgrazing inside and outside parks.

Recover biodiversity, protect and conserve plant and animal genetic material.

Increased income for parks at national, state and locality levels.

Wildlife Policy 2014 Establish new protected areas.

Develop strategic action plan for rangelands and pasture plants in semi-desert and low-rain savanna to strengthen resilience of communities against climate change.

Rehabilitation, conservation and protection of wildlife.

Community awareness and participation.

Water resources policies
25-Year Development Strategy (2007-2031)

5-Year Economic Reform Programme (2015-2019)

Water Resources Policy (2000 and 2007)

Sudan Policy and Strategy on Integrated Water Resources Management (2007-2022)

National Plan for Development and Utilization of Water Resources (2014)

Develop water resources by increasing reservoirs, rivers and riverine storage capacity.

Exploit groundwater and expand water catchments.

Provide drinking water for people and livestock.

Protect water resources by preventing dams and irrigation canals from silting and spreading papyrus.

Strike a balance between supply and demand of water for irrigation and hydropower generation.

Regulate and coordinate water use to avoid conflict of interest.

Involve the private sector and community in water service delivery.

Promote role of women in water services and in backyard crop and animal production in remote rural areas.

Increase Sudan’s share of water from River Nile.

Improved livelihoods of communities dependant on agriculture.

Better health and hygiene for communities.

Biodiversity policies
25-Year Development Strategy (2007-2031)

The Interim National Constitution 2005

National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2015-2019

Boost domestic and international tourism.

Establish enclosures and new nature reserves.

Protect wildlife and biodiversity.

Increased revenues from tourism.

Improved national parks services.

Conservation of biodiversity and genetic resources.

Sources: Ministry of Finance and National Economy, the National Council for Strategic Planning, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, Forest National Corporation, Wildlife Administration, Ministry of Water Resources, Irrigation and Electricity, the Interim National Constitution 2005, the Ministry of Environment and Physical Development, and the Higher Council for Environment and Natural Resources.