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Sudan is part of:
Africa · Arab States · Eastern Africa · Middle East · Northern Africa ·
Water Basins of Sudan:
Baraka · Congo-Zaire · Gash · Lake Turkana · Lotagipi Swamp · Nile ·
Facts & Figures edit
Capital Khartoum
Neighbouring Countries Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, Libya
Total Area 2,505,810 km2
  - Water 129,810 km2 (5.18%) / 518 m2/ha
  - Land 2,376,000 km2
Coastline 853 km
Population 36,232,950 (14.5 inhab./km2)
HDIA 0.526 (2007)
Gini CoefficientA n/a (1995)
Nominal GDPB $62,190 million
GDP (PPP) Per CapitaB $2,200
Land UseC
  - Cultivated Land 139,000 km2 (6.95%)
     - Arable 135,600 km2 (6.78%)
     - Permanent Crops 3,400 km2 (0.17%)
     - Irrigated 18,630 km2
  - Non cultivated 1,861,000 km2 (93.05%)
Average Annual RainfallD 416 mm
Renewable Water ResourcesE 154 km3
Water WithdrawalsF 37.32 km3/yr
  - For Agricultural Use 97%
  - For Domestic Use 3%
  - For Industrial Use 1%
  - Per Capita 1,134 m3 per person m3
Population with safe access to
  - Improved Water Source 70%
     - Urban population 78%
     - Rural population 64%
  - Improved Sanitation 34%
     - Urban population 99%
     - Rural population 24%
References & Remarks
A UNDP Human Development Report
B CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia
C CIA World Factbook Country Profiles
D Aquastat - FAO's Information System on Water and Agriculture
E CIA World Factbook
F Earthtrends

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Country Profile: Climate, Geography, Socio-Economic Context

Sudan is the largest country in Africa. It is bordered by Egypt and the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya on the north, Chad and the Central African Republic on the west, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Kenya on the south, and Ethiopia and Eritrea on the east. The Red Sea lies to the north-east and forms a coastline of 700 km (Map 1.2). Most of the country is part of the Nile River basin. Largely composed of a flat plain, it ranges from 200 to 500 metres in altitude except for isolated hills at Jabel Mera, the Nuba Mountains and the Red Sea Hills. Annual rainfall varies from 25 mm in the Sahara desert, in the north, to over 1,500 mm in the south. Temperatures generally vary from 4°C to 50°C. Surface features range from tropical forest and marsh in the south and centre to savannah and desert in the north, east and west. The population was estimated at 37.7 million in 2006. About 25% of the inhabitants live in the capital, Khartoum.

Sudan is so vast (about 2,00okm from north to south and 1,800 km from east to west) that it lies in multiple climatic zones. In the north, where the Sahara extends into much of the country, the climate is arid, while the south is influenced by a tropical wet-and-dry climate. This variation directly affects rainfall: a rainy season runs from April to October in southern Sudan, but the rainy period gradually diminishes in length towards the north, and rainfall is scarce in the far north. Overall, December to February is the driest period except on the Red Sea coast. In addition to geographic and seasonal variability in rainfall distribution, there are indications of a decreasing trend in the amount of rainfall in the last 30 years, with the dry zone increasingly extending towards the south. The central and northern states have experienced repeated and prolonged droughts in the last decades, causing loss of livelihoods, displacement, and localized famine. Severe flooding is also common in Sudan, destroying housing, infrastructure, crops, and eroding soil.

Country Profile: Water Bodies and Resources

Almost 80% of the country falls in the basin of the Nile River and its two main tributaries: the White Nile, originating in the equatorial lake region (shared by Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania and Congo-Zaire), and the Blue Nile, which rises in the Ethiopian highlands. The two join at Khartoum to form the Nile, which flows northwards through Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea. About 67% of the Nile River basin lies within Sudanese territory. Estimates of the availability of water resources in Sudan range from 36 billion m3 (SNWP, 2002) to 44 billion m3. In both cases, the biggest and the most reliable source ithe Nile. In addition to the rivers and their tributaries, Southern Sudan is home to the second-largest wetland in Africa, the Sudd. The Sudd’s swamps extend more than 30,000 square kilometers, and seasonally-inundated woodlands and grasslands cover another 600 square kilometers. The swamps, floodplains, and grassland contain over 350 species of plants, 100 species of fish, 470 bird species, over 10 species of mammals, and a range of reptiles and amphibians.

Sudan shares its surface and ground water resources with neighboring countries and is a member of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI). The variability of riverflows necessitates water storage in large reservoirs. In 2007, Sudan had 1,272 cubic meters of internal freshwater resources per capita. Annual water withdrawals are used almost entirely for agriculture (97%), including irrigation and livestock uses. The waters of the Nile River, with numerous tributaries and annual flooding, have been used for centuries for irrigation in Sudan. Traditional irrigation systems such as the shaduf (a device to raise water) and waterwheels used to lift water to fields were gradually replaced in the early 20th century by more efficient mechanized pump systems and the use of dams, reservoirs, and canals to support agribusiness, including cotton and sugar plantations. Small areas are irrigated by underground water.

Sudan has sufficient fresh water resources to supply drinking water to all its residents except in the northern desert regions. However, access to drinking water is hampered by a lack of infrastructure for extraction and purification. In southern Sudan, water supply and sanitation facilities suffered from a lack of maintenance and management during the war. Throughout the country, only 35% of the 6500 nationally-recorded water points are operational. Insufficient water-supply and contamination are problems in Khartoum and surrounding urban areas. A 2006 survey reported that 135 of every 1000 children born alive died before the age of five. Forty-eight percent of those deaths were due to diseases associated with unsafe water and inadequate sanitation.

Country Profile: Legal and Institutional Environment

Legal Framework

The 1998 Constitution of the former Government of Sudan provides that all subterranean, surface, and water resources are public property. Ownership of underground resources, likely including water, was debated during the peace-making process but ultimately tabled. The 2005 Interim National Constitution does not address ownership of water but simply provides that the state is responsible for the sustainable use and management of natural resources.

The main laws concerning water resources and their protection are the Environmental and Natural Resources Act (1991), the Water Resources Act (1995) and the Groundwater and Wadis Directorate Act (1998). They cover the entire spectrum of development, management and protection of freshwater resources.

Water rights are primarily a matter of state and local legislation in Sudan. States and regions (such as southern Sudan) establish water corporations, which set regulations governing access to water resources at state and local levels. State governments typically control certain water sources, such as boreholes, borewells, surface wells, and reservoirs (hafirs) for which they charge use-fees. Additional water sources are provided by private individuals and entities. Separate regulations (and sometimes separate water corporations) govern urban and drinking water. Sudan’s use of water in the Nile Basin is subject to international agreements and obligations related to its membership in the Nile Basin Initiative.

Under Islamic law, water is a public resource for all people to access. People have a right to drinking water for themselves and their livestock, and they have a right to use water for irrigation for farming. Access to water sources is open to all and must be used and managed in a manner that does not infringe upon others’ use of the resource. Where water is not available in quantities to serve all needs, if the water is drawn from a source that requires no artificial means of extraction, those nearer the source have first rights to the water. If effort and investment must be made to extract water, allocation is determined based on the effort made and the needs of various users.

Under customary law, community members have a right of access to land and water. Pastoralists have the right to use pasture and surface water in any part of their tribal areas. During periods of migration, pastoralists access water on land by agreement with landholders and other users of the natural resources. Strategies pastoralists use to overcome water shortages include: (1) constructing new water sources in water-deficit areas or investing in transport of water over comparatively short distances from water-source to camp by donkey or camel; (2) balancing of herds; (3) adjusting the positions of different species and classes of livestock in relation to water supplies and conserving the water and grazing at or around the most permanent and reliable water points (‘fallback’ or ‘dry-season’ water points); (4) selecting more drought-resistant breeding stock and management of the timing and frequency of drinking; and (5) managing and controlling the water points though organization and regulating access.

Institutional Framework
Key Agencies Sudan's Waer Sector
Key Agencies Sudan's Waer Sector

In northern Sudan, the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources (MANR) oversees the agricultural corporations that manage large irrigation schemes. The Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources (MIWR) is responsible for delivering irrigation water and is legally responsible for all water matters including supplying water, planning and managing water resources, creating and managing irrigation programs and facilities, providing for hydropower generation, and protecting the water-related environment.

Within the GOSS, the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation (MWRI) has overall leadership in the water sector. The Ministry has responsibility for drafting and overseeing the implementation of policies, guidelines, master plans and regulations for water resources development, conservation, and management in Southern Sudan; encouraging scientific research into the development of water resources in Southern Sudan; overseeing the operation of the Water Corporation of Southern Sudan (WCSS); overseeing the design, construction, and management of dams and other surface water storage infrastructure for irrigation, human and animal consumption and hydroelectricity generation; setting tariffs; creating policy on rural and urban water resource development and management; making provisions for local community management and maintenance of constructed water supplies until state and local governments have the capacity to undertake such functions; initiating irrigation development and management schemes; protecting the Sudd and other wetlands from pollution; and advising and supporting the states and local governments in their responsibilities for water supply and building their capacity to assume all functions vested by the Constitution and GOSS policy.

In 1999 a National Council for Water Resources was formed. It is headed by the ministry, with participation by central and state government representatives. Its objective is to formulate general policies and the outline of water resources development and management for the whole country, and to coordinate actions between the state and central levels.

The Southern Sudan Urban Water Corporation (SSUWC) was established to operate urban water facilities, improve their sustainability and expand the service coverage. The Khartoum State Water Corporation (KSWC) serves Khartoum and surrounding urban areas.

Sudan is a member of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), a cooperative institution formed by 10 riparian countries in 1999. The purpose of the NBI is to achieve sustainable socioeconomic development through the equitable utilization of, and benefit from, the common Nile basin water resources. The NBI has a grant-funded Shared Vision Program supporting activities that build an enabling environment for investment, and a Subsidiary Actions Program for specific investments, such as irrigation and hydropower. The initiative also seeks to reverse land degradation and improve environmental management.

Thus various dimensions of water resources management are spread among different ministries and dealt with by many government organizations, often without integration or coordination. As such, many aspects of the legislation are not enforced, with responsibilities ill defined and coordination lacking. Moreover, major gaps in the laws exist.

Government Reforms and Interventions

In December 2007, the GOSS passed the Southern Sudan Water Policy. The policy provides that access to sufficient water of an acceptable quality to meet basic human needs is a human right. The policy provides that the right to water shall be given the highest priority in the development of water resources; rural communities shall participate in the development and management of water schemes; and the involvement of NGOs and the private sector in water projects shall be encouraged. The policy also provides for the establishment of institutions at the central, state and county level, development of sub-sector strategies for rural water supply, urban water supply and water resources management, establishment of Budget Sector Working Groups, and creation of sector coordination mechanisms.

The GOSS Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation has plans for projects to reduce flooding, construct water harvesting facilities, rehabilitate and construct rural water supply and sanitation facilities, provide rehabilitation and management of irrigation facilities, and prepare plans and strategies for implementation of the Southern Sudan Water Policy.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Sudan devolved some authority for management of water resources to local communities. The government transferred the operation and production of large- and medium-size irrigation schemes from state-operated enterprises to the farmers. In addition, it established a system of voluntary water users associations to manage the irrigation system below the minor canals level. The government also grouped, rehabilitated, and handed over the small-size pump schemes in the Blue Nile and the White Nile that had been run by the government. In North Kordofan, with the help of an NGO, local communities constructed 10 new reservoirs in the late 1990’s. Local communities formed management committees to manage the resource, including charging a fee for water use. In 2004 the Water Corporation of North Kordofan State passed a law bringing under its jurisdiction all reservoirs and the rights to fees for water. The case went to court, which ruled that the community owned the reservoirs. The Water Corporation agreed to recognize the authority of the local management committee, and the parties agreed to share proceeds for water sales.

Country Profile: Water Sector Coordination

See Sector coordination sub-page for detailed description

Country Profile: Trends in Water Use, Management and Sanitation

Country Profile: Challenges and Opportunities

Donor Intervention

USAID has supported the rural water supply and sanitation sectors, including capacity-building for rural water managers. USAID provided funding for the Water for Recovery and Peace Programme (WRAPP) which included activities to enhance the capacity of community water management, rehabilitate rural water supply systems, and develop urban water distribution programs and rainwater harvesting.

The Council of Ministers of Water Affairs of the Nile Basin and the World Bank organized the Nile Basin Initiative, as discussed above. In Sudan, the Initiative has worked on flood preparedness, trans-boundary water quality issues, and wetlands protection.

The World Bank oversees a multi-donor Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project that increases access to safe water in Southern Sudan through borehole drilling and the development of water services infrastructure. The World Bank also supports community-driven investment projects such as the creation of water-user associations.

UNICEF has provided assistance to strengthen water supply and sanitation in Southern Sudan.


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Projects and Case Studies

Projects in or about Sudan

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Case studies in or about Sudan

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5 most recently updated publications on Sudan
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5 most popular publications on Sudan
  1. Water Conflict and Cooperation/Nile River Basin ‎(55,040 views) . . Katy.norman
  2. The Nile: Moving Beyond Cooperation ‎(10,717 views) . . Katy.norman
  3. Sudan Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment ‎(3,177 views) . . Katy.norman
  4. Regional Water Intelligence Report: The Nile Basin and Southern Sudan Referendum ‎(1,645 views) . . Katy.norman

See the complete list of WaterWiki documented publications on Sudan

Who is Who

People working in Sudan

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Organizations working in Sudan

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See also

External Resources



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