‘While Darfur shows the limits of current peacekeeping and humanitarian policy, it is also becoming clear that the roots of conflict are not found in the often-repeated claim of simplistic “ethnic hatreds.” To a considerable extent, the conflict there is the result of a slow-onset disaster—creeping desertification and severe droughts that have led to food insecurity and sporadic famine, as well as growing competition for land and water.’ UNEP Report
A United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report has cited severe environmental degradation as one of the root causes of the conflict in Darfur.
According to the “Sudan Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment“, a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), deserts have spread southwards by an average of 100 kilometers over the past four decades and land degradation causing overgrazing of fragile soils. The number of livestock exploded from close to 27 million animals to around 135 million.
The Report also cited that a “deforestation crisis” has led to a loss of almost 12 percent of Sudan’s forest cover in just 15 years and that some areas may lose their remaining forest cover within the next decade.
It states that declining and highly irregular patterns of rainfall in parts of the country, particularly in Kordofan and Darfur states, provides mounting evidence of long-term regional climate change. Also that in Northern Darfur, precipitation has fallen by a third in the past 80 years.
The agency’s Executive Director, Achim Steiner, warns that “Sudan’s tragedy is not just the tragedy of one country in Africa but a window to a wider world underlining how issues such as uncontrolled depletion of natural resources like soils and forests allied to impacts like climate change can destabilize communities, even entire nations.”
The Sudan Environment Conservation Society says that average annual rainfall in El Fasher in northern Darfur has dropped nearly in half since data was first gathered in 1917.
Meanwhile, Darfur’s population, and with its pressure on the land, has grown six-fold over the past four decades, to about 6.5 million.
Resource challenges might have spurred cooperation between Darfurs’s farming and nomadic communities. The two populations have both a history of competing for scarce water and fertile land, but also a record of economic interdependence and a tradition of seeking negotiated solutions. But encroaching deserts have pushed nomads further south and into growing conflict with farming communities. Increasing scarcity has led to rising tribal antagonism over the past 20 years.
The 354–page study includes the following findings:
Story courtesy of World Watch