Monday, 25 January 2016

Sudan Water scarcity and social problems

Once the largest country in Africa, Sudan was split into two along North and South lines. Sudan itself is connected historically and culturally to Egypt. It borders multiple African countries on all sides. Sudan has more pyramids than Egypt and is most famous for being the home of  several African Empires of Kush, Merowe, Nubia, parts of Punt and Karima.

Sudan isn't in the news much especially in international news. The other Sudan, South Sudan makes the news occasionally but only when the ongoing conflict is mentioned. For most Sudanese outside the conflicts across Sudan is the continual water scarcity even in the Sudanese capital Khartoum and other cities. The fact that the Nile River is polluted doesn't get mention either. Cooking gas is also becoming scarce in the capital too among other necessary commodities.

Water scarcity in Khartoum and other Sudanese towns in Arabic without subtitles

Mini documentary produced by 3ayin

Water is the most important commodity around the world. More sacred than even petroleum, water scarcity and water pollution is already causing conflicts and wars the world over. Sudan is no different. Like Egypt, Sudan is a large desert country. If it was not for the Nile, Sudan would not have developed empires, civilizations and sustained its modern day society. The Nile means life in Sudanese culture. Ordinary Sudanese rely on the Nile for farming, crop production, drinking water, sanitation and survival. The Nile River is a main background character in many Sudanese movies and TV series. Sadly, the Nile has become a victim of water contamination. It is one of the most polluted rivers in Africa unsurprisingly.

Despite the dangers that pollutants bring, many Sudanese across the country still use the Nile and water for their daily lives. The major water treatment plants in Khartoum and elsewhere has not kept up with rapid urbanization or population growth. Many city residents and farmers take it upon themselves to build their own water towers for their homes and businesses. Most people rely on portable water trucks in Khartoum and other cities. Many Sudanese farmers rely on ancient shadufs in Egypt, the world's first water pumps for irrigation and rising cattle. The late rainy seasons or lack of rains has made farming difficult for some. The Sudanese government has built a large dam, Merowe Dam over the fourth cataract of the Nile near the town of Karima. The dam construction was met with protests by Nubian Sudanese who have long complained that the Khartoum government is destroying long standing communities and ancient Nubian architecture, cultural heritage and monuments (built by the Pharaohs mind you) by flooding important ancient sites belonging to Karima, Kush and Nubian Empires.

Water is political too 

Cairo is famous for relying on and dictating how the Nile is used by other countries including Sudan. Sudan has also staked its claim to the Nile and has refused to let Egypt control its own access to the main Nile and also its equally important estuaries the Blue and White Niles.

Khartoum on the River Nile.

Bashir government still harrassing and killing Sudanese

Sudanese family share their story of the war by Khartoum. Filmed by 3ayin

Sudanese civilians continue to be killed in Darfur, Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile and Abyei by their own government. Sudanese activists have been calling for an independent investigation into the massacre of 52 civilians in El Geneina, West Darfur that was carried out by the Sudanese Army. The Janjaweed still exists in Darfur but has been renamed the Rapid Support Forces. The RSF is integrated into the larger Sudanese Army but is still known as the Janjaweed by most Darfuris. Even in Khartoum and other cities, Darfuri students have been targeted by the government for their outspoken criticisms and joining university protests. In addition, Janjaweed/RSF forces continuing to displace already dispossessed Darfuris to newer areas inside Darfur while dismantling refugee camps. The Darfuri IDPs and displaced have protested against their second and third displacement to the local state governor. Darfur has been granted a referendum vote for April 11th of this year. However many Darfuris disagree with taking part in the referendum to decide Darfur's provinces as five states or one single region since it is being imposed by Khartoum.

The Sudanese police in Eastern Sudan in the cities of Port Sudan, Kassala and Ingessina Hills have also attacked, tortured and killed peaceful protesters. The protesters are made up of university students, poets, cultural artists and ordinary women, men and even children. Sudan like Egypt has a long history of social movements and protests against injustice, hikes in fuel and bread and the government. Even before Bashir came to power in 1989, Sudanese have been protesting against repressive governments and their disproportional strict policies. Ongoing protests both large and small are happening in Khartoum, Port Sudan, Gadarif, Kassala and Darfur region towns: El Fashir, El Geneina and Nyala. Protesters call for a more inclusive Sudan, one that is Democratic, secular, multi ethnic and multi religious free from racism, unapologetic state terrorism and a fairer justice system and equal access to infrastructure and water.

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