Water for Darfur

The problem

Rainfall is unreliable in Darfur, leaving little water available for people, livestock, fodder and crops.  The scarcity of water leads to competition over its use, often resulting in conflict and migration.

Increasing the availability of water will help to reduce tension between different community groups. It will improve health by enabling better sanitation and hygiene behaviour. A reliable water supply for people, livestock and crops will help communities to become more resilient to changes in the climate.

What we’re doing to help

Objective: Increasing water supply for drinking, sanitation and livelihoods in rural Darfur

Water for sustainable development in Darfur

Location: Rural areas of Darfur, Sudan 
Number of beneficiaries:  250,000 
Project date: January 2017 - December 2020
Partners: Aqua4Darfur partnership (ZOA, Acacia Water, International Aid Services, RAIN Foundation, SOS Sahel Sudan, and World Relief)
Principal funders: DFID
Funding: £2.8 million

The project will develop an Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) system in the catchment areas of rural Darfur to provide a more reliable water supply for drinking, sanitation and livelihoods.

  • Water resource management: Understanding how much groundwater is available and planning the allocation of water to different uses (domestic consumption, livestock, crops, grazing lands, and other uses), managing the development of and access to water resources.  This water management iis key to success as all upstream interventions have effects further downstream – especially as most of Darfur sits on shallow basement rock with little or no access to deep groundwater. Governance of water resources depends on the active involvement of local government and technical departments, as well as the communities using the water.
  • Increasing access to water: construction and renovation of groundwater recharge infrastructure, construction, renovation and upgrading of water points, promotion of locally appropriate methods for household-level water treatment, training on operation and maintenance for committees that manage the water infrastructure. Sustainability of arrangements for operation and maintenance is critical for the success of this output,
  • Improving health:  Supply of clean drinking water combined with the promotion of good sanitation and hygiene practice and awareness of the importance of balanced diets
  • Improved production of crops and livestock: Improved availability and reliability of water to reduce the risk of crop failure and improve grazing lands and water for livestock. This makes it less risky for farmers and pastoralists to invest in increasing the productivity of their livelihoods. Training in climate smart agricultural techniques is part of this work to ensure that soil retains its fertility. Where relevant small-scale infrastructure will be constructed or upgraded and tree planting will be promoted to compensate for years of deforestation.

Look how far your money can go

Now through this work with Practical Action everything has changed.  Our solar water pump has which has changed our life dramatically.  Now it is the easiest thing to get water, even the children can go alone to bring water for their families.” – Altayed, North Darfur, Sudan


Solutions to individual water problems risk causing problems elsewhere. For example:

  • Drilling more wells means that the aquifers dry out faster
  • Expanding area under irrigation risk causing water shortagesdownstream
  • Concentrating livestock around large hafirs risks can lead to local overgrazing and conflict

This is why a sustainable solution to Darfur's water supply requires a resource plan based on a balance between availability and supply within a catchment area, rather than on the water requirements of specific populations.

A key element is water buffering to increase the quantity of available water in the dry season. The main approach suitable for this is groundwater recharge. Surface water storage is unsuitable in much of Darfur because of high sedimentation and evaporation.

Many water points in Darfur are not functioning because of management issues or lack of  access to spare parts or funding. These need to be addressed before infrastructure is put in place.



Sand or earth can be used to build these water storage systems, for areas where precious rainwater does not come often enough

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