High level UK delegation visits water supply projects in Darfur

KHARTOUM – A UNOPS-implemented project designed to bring improved water supplies to hundreds of thousands of people in the Darfur region of Sudan has been visited by a senior delegation from the United Kingdom.

​British Ambassador to Sudan Nicholas Kay, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development Stephen O’Brien and other delegates from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) visited the Golo reservoir near El Fasher, during a tour of UK-funded activities in North Darfur.

The Golo reservoir supplies water to El Fasher town, serving more than 500,000 people. DFID funded the rehabilitation of the reservoir in 2010, as well as the ongoing construction of a pipeline to carry water from the reservoir to the town, both with implementation support from UNOPS.

Darfur is largely arid and demand for water in the region has been dramatically increased by rapid urbanization in recent years, along with the pressure of climate-induced drought. A serious decline in the water table has been reported near urban centres and relief camps, and access to this limited resource has often led to conflict between communities.

DFID is committed to increasing access to water in the region, a key element of achieving sustainable livelihoods, improving health and providing increased stability to the community. UNOPS is partnering with DFID on two projects that will improve water access for hundreds of thousands of people.

The Golo reservoir work comes under the Integrated Water Resources Management programme, which was developed by the United Nations Environment Programme in collaboration with the Government of Sudan’s Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources.

UNOPS activities include the rehabilitation of the reservoir, silt removal from another reservoir at Wadaa and the rehabilitation of the Abu Delieg water harvesting dam. The project is also designing and constructing ground water infiltration checkpoints at Abu Shouk and restoring a number of underground reservoirs, known as hafirs, in north Darfur. The project will increase the region’s resilience against drought and will benefit approximately 450,000 people.

A second DFID project implemented by UNOPS, the Darfur Urban Water Supply project, will strengthen the water source infrastructure in the four state capitals of Darfur: El Fasher, Nyala, El Geneina and Zalingei.

Since the project began in December 2010, UNOPS has been working closely with Public Water Corporation of the Government of Sudan at a national level and with the urban water administrations of four states to design and implement the required upgrades.

More than 90 boreholes accessing source water have been assessed, reliable power sources have been connected and work is in progress to replace more than 30 underperforming pumps. New boreholes have been drilled and commissioned, water transfer mains have been constructed and designs for an improved distribution network are also in progress.

The project will also assess urban water administrations across Darfur and create a capacity development plan to ensure the long-term sustainability of these activities. The Darfur Urban Water Supply Project will contribute to the improved water supply of 117,000 beneficiary households in the region.

The combined outcome of both projects will be a more environmentally and economically sustainable public water sector across Darfur.