Climate change could render Sudan ‘uninhabitable’

CNN  — 

Sudan’s ecosystems and natural resources are deteriorating.

Temperatures are rising, water supplies are scarce, soil fertility is low and severe droughts are common. After years of desertification, its rich biodiversity is under threat and drought has hindered the fight against hunger.

This burden is affecting not only the country’s food security and sustainable development, but also the homes of many Sudanese families.

Dust storms – known locally as “Haboob” – have also increased in this region. Moving like a gigantic thick wall, it carries sand and dust – burying homes, increasing evaporation to a region that’s struggling to preserve water supplies, as well as eroding valuable fertile soil.

Experts say that without quick intervention, parts of the African country – one of the most vulnerable in the world – could become uninhabitable as a result of climate change.

Increasing temperature

“North Africa is already hot and is strongly increasing in temperature. At some point in this century, part of the region will become uninhabitable,” Jos Lelieveld, a climate scientist from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, told CNN.

“That will string from Morocco all the way through to Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Sudan’s temperature is expected to increase significantly. By 2060, it’s projected to rise between 1.1 °C and 3.1 °C.

As a result of hotter climate and erratic rainfall, much of Sudan has become progressively unsuitable for agriculture and villages.

Irregular rain has ruined crops, and the country is experiencing both droughts and floods – making arable land unsuitable for cultivation and displacing more than 600,000 people due to flood-related disasters since 2013, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC).

It is estimated 1.9 million people will be affected by reduced agricultural and livestock production -- due to smaller farming areas, poor pastures and limited water availability.

Michelle Yonetani, a senior advisor on disasters from IDMC, says 70 percent of the rural population are reliant on traditional rain-fed agriculture – for both food and livelihood – while 80 percent of the population rely on rainfall for their water supply.

She told CNN that Sudan was facing a “hugely complex emergency situation.”

“Drought aggravates desertification which affects the savannah belt in the northern region – so these encroaching deserts have been displacing entire villages.”

Yonetani said Sudan was one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change because of the issue of food security – it ranks 98th out of 113 countries on the Global Hunger Index, placing it in the top 15 most food-insecure countries in the world.

Communities ‘pushed to the limits’

Until the late 20th century, the Sahel – the transitional zone between the desert and the tropical south – was peppered with baobab and acacia trees as well as sparse grass cover. But now desertification is changing the landscape and