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1st Stakeholder meeting in Sudan

On October 22nd-23rd, 2022, the Water Research Centre (WRC) of the University of Khartoum hosted the first local stakeholder meeting in Sudan on best management practices (BMPs) evaluation & site-specific brokerage.

The first day of the meeting was attended by 47 participants representing public authorities, associations, and private sector involved in water management and agriculture in the Gezira Irrigation Scheme – study area for Sudan in the framework of WATDEV project.

Gezira in Arabic means “in the middle”, indeed the Gezira Irrigation Scheme is located between the Blue Nile and the White Nile River within a semiarid agroclimatic zone, approx. 350 km from Khartoum. In this area, advanced irrigation systems have been introduced since 1904 by British engineer William Earsten. Two years later, irrigated cotton was introduced as a cash crop in the area.

As for the stakeholder meetings held in Egypt, Kenya and Ethiopia, the main goal of this first stakeholder meeting in Sudan was to carry out a participatory assessment of the state of agricultural water and soil practices currently applied in the study area, with the objective of examining the community’s gaps and needs. Based on this participatory approach, a thorough evaluation was made on the BMPs evaluation and their suitability for selection and implementation.

The two-day meeting was organized by the Water Research Centre (WRC) in close collaboration with the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) and the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari (CIHEAM Bari), and it was coordinated by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation Office in Cairo (AICS Cairo).

The opening session was chaired by Prof. Gamal Abdo, the Director of the WRC. The representative of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation Office in Khartoum (AICS Khartoum), Mr. Raimondo Cocco, provided a brief overview of the activities of the Italian cooperation in the local context, and discussed the significance of WATDEV project at both national and regional scale.

Mr. Moses Okede, from ASARECA, presented the workshop goals and schedule, also providing a brief overview of WATDEV main goals and expected outcomes.

Mr. Cocco

Mr. Okede

Dr. Ahmed Hayaty Elshaikh (WRC) introduced local stakeholders arriving from the Gezira scheme and explained the activities developed during the first year of project implementation, concerning the inventory and evaluation of BMPs and innovations in close cooperation with local stakeholders and PhD students. In the last months, the members of the stakeholder forum were selected and represent different types of stakeholders from research, decision makers and farmer’s representatives. Moreover, a PhD candidate was selected and will conduct research in the Gezira scheme to complete his PhD in joint supervision between the Wageningen University (co-partner in WATDEV through International Soil Reference Centre, ISRIC) and the University of Khartoum.

Dr. Ahmed Hayaty Elshaikh

On behalf of CIHEAM Bari, Dr. Gaetano Ladisa presented WATDEV objectives, methodology, and research phases. In his presentation, the linkages between farmers, researchers, and policymakers on BMPs collection and implementation was shown. Ms. Alice Calvo from the Italian National Research Council (CNR) presented how the BMPs were gathered, and displayed some statistics related to the BMPs already collected in the four countries involved in WATDEV programme: Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya.

Dr. Ladisa

The meeting was attended by different categories of stakeholders. They included policy makers (i.e., Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Sudan Meteorological Authority, Gezira Scheme Board); research and educational institutions (i.e., Hydraulics Research Center, UNESCO, Higher Council for Environment and Natural Resources, Water Management and Irrigation Institute, Faculty of Civil Engineering, University of Khartoum, Sudan University of Science & Technology - College of Water and Environmental Engineering); development partners and NGOs working the area.

The local community organizations were represented by water users’ organization, landowners, village elders (both men and women), local lead farmer leaders, local producers’ association.

Several stakeholders from various backgrounds and institutions actively participated to the debate and brought their valuable contributions to the discussion. In particular, the farmers gave engaging insights into their everyday struggles and routines.

Plenary sessions, wrap-up, and discussions on the brokerage event were chaired by Dr. Ahmed Elshaikh, who summarized the many contributions, expectations, and suggestions collected from the participants.

Prof. Pandi Zdruli (CIHEAM Bari), thanked all the participants for their proactive participation and useful contribution to the meeting. He also underlined the importance of the meeting outcomes for future programme activities.

On the second day after (October 23rd), the participants visited the Gezira irrigation scheme and had the chance to meet local farmers, the Farmers Training Center, and the Hydraulics Research Center (HRC) managed by the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources.


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