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close this bookDevelopment Projects in the Sudan: An Analysis of their Reports with Implications for Research and Training in Arid Land Management (UNU, 1979, 58 pages)
close this folder3. Project analysis
View the document3.1 Simsim mechanized farming project.
View the document3.2 Khashm el Girba settlement scheme
View the document3.3 Sag el Na'am irrigation project (northern Darfur).
View the document3.4 Babanusa nomads' settlement project
View the document3.5 Nuba mountains agricultural production corporation (NMAPC).
View the document3.6 Gerih el Sarha settlement scheme.
View the document3.7 Agadi state farm, Blue Nile province.
View the document3.8 Mechanized Dura production schemes, Gedaref region.

3.4 Babanusa nomads' settlement project


The project was designed to open opportunities for nomads to settle on 44 potential ranch sites of 10 x 10 km selected in the West Kordofan Babanusa area. It was hoped that the livestock would provide a regular supply of milk for the Babanusa Milk Factory to stabilize market supply on the one hand and additional income for the nomads on the other. The project was to serve as a nucleus for additional agricultural activities and for the provision of central services (schooling. health, etc.).

Production Problems

Southern Kordofan Province is approximately 135,000 km² in area. The central part is dominated by the Nuba Mountains and the basement-complex rocks, of which there are four major hill masses and a large number of minor. isolated hills. The mountains are surrounded by pediments and a gently undulating pediplain with soils varying from coarse. gravelly clays to dark grey and black cracking clays. the socalled ''black cotton soils," and alluvial soils. These together make up around 45 per cent of the area, and the uncultivable rocky jebels constitute around 23 per cent.

The western part of the province, Meseriya, is, in terms of the land systems encountered, very similar to the adjacent parts of Southern Darfur. It is made up largely of sand sheet (goz) and dunes, and in the small farm surplus would be insufficient to cover overhead costs. Iet alone to generate returns to offset capital costs. The project has an adverse impact on the Sudan's balance of payments. If local and foreign transactions are weighed to reflect the scarcity of foreign exchange, the economic viability is very negative.

But for pressing political and social reasons, projects of this type seem to have justification as long as suitable alternatives cannot be found. Keeping people in such areas occupied with subsidized employment may justify the high cost to the society as long as the project is used mainly to bridge a time gap until more productive employment can be created in other sectors. the south, fine alluvial deposits derived from the sand and the mountains. A belt of regebas-broad meandering channels and oxhows, lakes and depressions with spinal water courses, where water stands during and for some time after the rains-is found in the extreme southwest corner. The light sandy goz soils, which are excessively well-drained, make up around 32 per cent of the area.

The province lies between the 450 mm and 850mm mean annual isohyets with a rainy season which extends between the end of May and early June. up to the first half of October. The rainfall and the duration of the rainy season increases from north to south. During the recent drought (1968-72) in the Sahel zone, precipitation in the area fell 1020 per cent below the 30-year average (1941-70). However. the incidence of the drought was very variable, with central and eastern Meseriya recording above-average rainfall, while in the Nuba Mountains rainfall was 1 3-14 per cent below average.

The entire area falls into the low-rainfall woodland savanna formation type of natural vegetation. with the major local variations reflecting clay or sand soil types. The region is within the limits in which rain-fed agriculture is feasible.

With 7-8 months of the year without rainfall, perennial sources of water for human and livestock consumption are extremely important. In Meseriya, there are very few naturally occurring perennial water sources, being limited to the stretches of Bahr el Arab below Abyei. Lake Keilak, and possibly some of the larger regebas. Shallow clay basins and some low-yielding. shallow well fields are used to exploit the sub-surface water to be found in the course of Wadi el Ghalla. In the Nuba Mountains, some sub-surface storage from the intermittently flowing streams provides water from pools and. late in the dry season, from shallow, hand-dug depressions (mashush) in the stream beds. Also, in the coarse deposits surrounding the jebels. there are deep wells, often tapping fissures in the basement bedrock.

Undoubtedly, the most important change brought about in the economy and ecology of the province has been effected through the provision of new sources of perennial water supply through the construction of deep tube wells and hafirs. The first tube wells were sunk in 1927-28. but the major expansion came in 1967-72 during the "Anti-Thirst Campaign." During this period the number of wells in the west increased fourfold, with many of them in Meseriya. The bores generally tap the Nubian or Um Ruwaba aquifers or, occasionally, the weathered zone of the basement complex. The bores are often up to 200 meters deep, with diesel pumps supplying water for human beings and livestock through water yards at a charge of £S 0.002 per four-gallon tin.

Hafirs are simple artificial reservoirs into which water is channelled and stored. The first machine-excavated reservoirs in Kordofan were brought into use in 1947 in the Nuba Mountains and Tegale. often located on the flood plain of the khors in order to be filled during the rains. Water is provided free for human and livestock consumption. Provision is made for water to be drawn through extraction wells, but in many cases these are not operational and all users, including cattle. must enter the hafir to draw water, so that it is often of very poor quality.

The main reason for the failure of the ranches was the location of ranch blocks on major and minor migration routes of the pastoralists, enclosing considerable areas of existing cultivation and areas over which both sedentary and migratory populations recognized rights. All parties concerned strongly asserted their rights to cultivate and graze, and cultivation inside the ranches increased rapidly, defended by strong thorn fences. In addition. the carrying capacity of the range in the area was too low to support the proposed number of livestock on year-round occupancy, and the production of meat and milk would not have been sufficient even to cover costs of operation.

Livestock marketing is either controlled by rural councils, where sales are registered and taxed by clerks. or handled by a large number of smaller markets operated by individuals, often merchants who buy the right to collect sales taxes. A complex system of merchants, agents, traders. intermediaries, and tribal guarantors, held together by close financial and personal relationships, perform the purchase movement. and sale of livestock. Marketing is highly seasonal, determined by the periods when livestock is in areas accessible to merchants and when movement is possible. All cattle and the majority of the sheep are trekked to the main consumer markets and the Gezira area, or to the export quarantine in Khartoum North. During the dry season, trekking involves heavy mortalities and weight losses, especially in livestock coming from the western areas. The capacity for moving stock by rail is very limited and the service unreliable.

The imperfections in the marketing system, including the often permissive link between marketing and private credit, are difficult to remove. However, if farmers are to respond to the opportunities for increased productivity and to invest in agriculture, they must receive a larger share of the final market value of their produce (for instance, through central purchasing of livestock and institutional credit).

The only reliable estimates of livestock population have been made by the aerial Pilot Livestock Census carried out in Southern Kordofan in 1975:

(in millions) cattle 1.97 goats 0.51
sheep 1.07 camels 0.08

Heavy concentrations of cattle were observed particularly in the alluvial Bahr el Arab dry season areas, well field sites, and around the alluvial valleys in the eastern parts of the Nuba Mountains. Cattle were primarily the indigenous Baggara (beef type), but in the eastern parts they were the Kenana (milk breed). In the Nuba Mountains there are still the small Nuba cattle which are resistant to trypanosomiasis.

The traditional pastoral economy of the province is managed on both sedentary and migratory systems. The Nuba and settled elements in the Baggara tribes manage their herds in the context of settled agriculture, involving the stock in only short distance migrations. Only a small part of the household labour is committed to herding and movement of stock. The true migratory pastoralists move southwards to perennial water supplies and pasture during the dry season and retreat northwards to the rainy season pastures, avoiding the mud and biting flies. The productivity of livestock is very low, particularly amongst the sedentary herds. Average commercial takeoff rates are on the order of 5 per cent for cattle and 15 per cent for sheep. The main reason for the low productivity is the very low level of nutrition, with animals receiving at or below maintenance feed requirements for up to eight months of the year. The main reason for this in turn has been the expansion of livestock numbers beyond the sustained carrying capacity of the range, which itself is shrinking as a result of over-grazing and expansion of cultivation.

The Veterinary Department tries to control diseases, especially rinderpest, C.B.B.P., anthrax, blackquarter, and H.S.C. There are veterinary hospitals, dispensaries, mobile clinics, and doctors in the area. There the efforts are entirely focused on animal health and, in particular, on seasonal vaccination campaigns. The result has been an explosion in the number of animals. However, many nomads still hesitate to have their animals vaccinated if there is not an acute danger. Vaccinations against rinderpest are free of charge, while all others have to be paid for. The fees are collected indirectly through the tax payment per head of livestock. The per-head basis of this tax payment hinders any effective extension service, as the livestock owner is not willing to reveal the number of cattle he owns, nor to discuss their performance.


The project did not reach its objectives. The settling of nomads and supplying of milk to the factory ceased. and from 1975 the programme has been reduced to essentially service provision on just four ranch areas. Apparently the areas for the project were not selected carefully enough so as not to conflict with other tribes demanding traditional rights of grazing and cultivation during the rainy season.

Major shortcomings are reported to be: low intensity of communication between management and field staff, lack of transport, insufficient finances, and absence of co-ordination between different governmental departments. Local people were not involved sufficiently in planning and implementation to accumulate enough interest. The staff showed the usual problems-shortage of qualified cadre, quick transfer. lack of adequate housing, etc. The entire exercise underlines the potential areas of conflict between cultivators and pastoralists and the difficulties of consultation between the local population and the administration in remote areas.