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close this bookProceedings of the Khartoum Workshop on Arid Lands Management (UNU, 1979, 96 pages)
close this folderThe university of Khartoum and the United Nations University
View the documentThe Khartoum workshop in relation to the programmes of the United Nations University
View the documentUnited Nations University evaluation mission to the Sudan, 1-9 october 1977
View the documentPOST-graduate studies in the university of Khartoum
View the documentEstablishment of an institute of environmental studies at the university of Khartoum
View the documentProposed M.Sc. programmes in environmental studies at the university of Khartoum
View the documentProposed joint research project between university college, Swansea, and the university of Khartoum under the United Nations University arid lands sub-programme

The Khartoum workshop in relation to the programmes of the United Nations University

Walther Manshard
Vice-Rector, Programme on the Use and Management of Natural Resources
J.A. Mabbutt
Co-ordinator, Sub-programme on the Assessment of the Application of Knowledge to Arid Lands Problems

The United Nations University was established in response to growing international recognition that the major problems confronting humanity are not the responsibility of single nations but of the whole interdependent world. In the words of its Charter, approved by the UN General Assembly in 1973, the prime concerns of the University will be "the pressing global problems of human survival, development and welfare." The essence of the University is global networks of scholars working on related problems, and these scholars are linked to the University individually through research and training units, and formally through associated institutions. Through these networks the UN University is pursuing its aim of advanced research and training and the dissemination of knowledge, with particular emphasis on the needs of the developing countries. Thus it is acting to strengthen the resources of associated institutions where necessary, sponsoring research projects within the objectives of its programmes, providing post-graduate training to UNU Fellows, and facilitating the interchange of ideas by means of workshops, seminars, and a variety of publications.

In 1975 the UN University Council set three priority areas for immediate attention, namely, world hunger, human and social development, and the use and management of natural resources.

The aim of the Programme on the Use and Management of Natural Resources is to identify the most critical problems that can be alleviated through research, advanced training, and the dissemination of knowledge, and particularly those which are presently relatively unrecognized or inadequately dealt with by existing institutions. In early 1977 the Council approved the Programme's taking the following critical problems as a basis for its work: increasing environmental deterioration and mismanagement of natural resources in the humid tropics; limited energy supplies, particularly for rural communities; and the ineffective application of knowledge in the management and development of arid lands.

The general objective of the Arid Lands Sub-programme is to bridge the gaps between scientists, land-users, and administrators in order to develop and provide information for more effective management of arid lands. Specifically, the Sub-programme will identify factors obstructing the application of scientific or traditional knowledge that could be used to improve the environment and raise living stand. arcs in the dry lands, and then develop and implement means to overcome these obstacles.

Following a favourable report by a UNU evaluation mission in October 1977, the University of Khartoum was chosen as the initial base for this Sub-programme. The workshop recorded in this publication marks the initiation of joint activities. It was also the occasion for the formal designation of the University of Khartoum as an Associated Institution of the United Nations University. An agreement to this effect was signed by Professor Ali Fadl, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Khartoum, and Dr. Walther Manshard, Vice-Rector for the Natural Resources Programme, on 22 October 1978, the opening day of the workshop.

The co-operation between the UN University and the University of Khartoum will primarily be conducted through the Institute of Environmental Studies, recently established at the University of Khartoum with the support of the Ford Foundation. The University of Khartoum, being the major centre of advanced studies in the Sudan, is well placed to investigate environmental changes linked with development of the arid and semi-arid parts of the country, with which the aims of the Arid Lands Sub-programme of the UN University are closely linked. Post-graduate courses given by the Institute will provide training to UNU Fellows under the Subprogramme, particularly from those parts of Africa with comparable environmental and social problems.

A large number of departments from various faculties of the University of Khartoum will be associated in the work of the Institute, and it is intended that co-operation be" tween the UN University and the University of Khartoum for the furtherance of the Arid Lands Sub-programme will be on the widest possible basis. The Institutional Co-ordinator responsible in Khartoum for such co-operation will be Dr. Mustafa M. Khogali of the Department of Geography

The specific objectives of the Khartoum workshop were:
(a) to identify problem areas related to the utilization of existing knowledge in the development of the Sudan;
(b) to evaluate existing development projects; and
(c) to discuss the content of training programmes, and appropriate network relationships to support such programmes.

A summary of the proceedings, discussions, and recommendations is given in the report by Dr. Douglas L. Johnson.

The facilities provided by the University of Khartoum for the meetings and field excursions to the Gezira and Rahaad Development Schemes, as well as the hospitality of the university, are gratefully acknowledged, as is the co-operation of all participants, both Sudanese and overseas. There was unanimous agreement that the workshop had fulfilled its primary function of initiating effective co-operation between the University of Khartoum and the United Nations University in its Arid Lands Sub-programme, and of indicating the immediate lines for research and training.

United Nations University evaluation mission to the Sudan, 1-9 october 1977

Anders Rapp
University of Lund, Sweden

Horst Mensching University of Hamburg, Federal Republic of Germany

The United Nations University's Sub-programme on the Assessment of the Application of Knowledge to Arid Lands Problems was discussed and recommended by an expert panel in Tokyo in May 1977. The panel also recommended that a mission should visit the Sudan and evaluate the possibilities of establishing links between the UN University, the University of Khartoum, and other institutions in the Sudan, such as the planned College for Arid Zone Studies at el-Fasher.

The UNU evaluation team visited Khartoum on 2-4 and 8-9 October 1977 and had discussions and field studies in elFasher on 5-7 October. The team members were Dr. H. Mensching, University of Hamburg, Federal Republic of Germany; Mr. Lee MacDonald, United Nations University, Tokyo; Dr. Anders Rapp, University of Lund, Sweden; and Dr. R. Herzog, University of Freiburg, Federal Republic of Germany.

Dr. F. Ibrahim, University of Hamburg, took part in the meetings in el-Fasher and in Khartoum on 8 October. The hosts in the Sudan were the Higher Education Grants Committee and its director, Dr. Ali Taha.

The team members wish to express their gratitude to the Sudanese authorities and representatives for their kind help in facilitating the work of the mission and for their hospitality.

The UNU team spent five days of meetings and discussions in Khartoum and three days of meetings and field studies in elFasher. In Khartoum the team had discussions with representatives from the University of Khartoum, the National Council for Research, and the Khartoum Polytechnics and with officials from several Government agencies, including the departments of Soil Conservation, Range and Pasture, and Forestry. In el-Fasher the team had discussions with the Commissioner of Northern Darfur Province and the provincial Agricultural Council. The mission had the advantage of being able to utilize the experiences and materials from the UN Conference on Desertification, held in Nairobi in September 1977 (UNCOD, 1977) and the Desert Encroachment Control and Rehabilitation Programme (DECARP) of the Government of the Republic of the Sudan (Sudan, Ministry of Agriculture, etc., 1976).

Recommendations by the Mission

Based on the discussions with Sudanese authorities and experts, the UNU evaluation mission made a number of recommendations, including:
(a) that the University of Khartoum be made an Associated Institution for the UNU Subprogramme on Assessment of the Application of Knowledge to Arid Lands Problems;
(b) that the planned Institute of Environmental Studies (IES), proposed by the Faculty of Science, and the existing Development Studies and Research Centre (SRC) in the Faculty of Economic and Social Studies be considered the bases for UNU activities within the University of Khartoum; (c) that research and other activities sponsored by the UN University be located mainly in the field under an arid lands research unit based in el-Fasher, Northern Darfur Province, Sudan. This unit should be created as an intermediate step towards the establishment of a research unit attached to the Darfur College for Arid Zone Studies as proposed by the Government of the Republic of Sudan.

The mission also made recommendations for the workshop as reported in this volume.

Some additional comments are called for concerning the recommendation to locate the UNU-sponsored research and other activities as much as possible in the field under the proposed arid lands research unit in el-Fasher. The recommendation is based on the mission's view that actions to counter desertification and the improved management of arid lands have to be studied and applied in close contact with the areas and peoples affected by these problems. Public participation was a central topic in the recommendations discussed at the Conference on Desertification.

At our meetings in el-Fasher the representatives of Northern Darfur showed a deep understanding of, and expressed much concern about, the problems of desertification in their province. We were impressed by their strong will and determination to make long term improvement to help the people, who have been seriously hit by years of drought and declining yields. It is also mainly these areas which are feeling the direct impact of immigrants from the Sahelian countries of West Africa escaping starvation at times of desertification. So there seems to be a particularly strong need in Darfur for the application of knowledge to help combat desertification (Mensching and Ibrahim, 1977).

Further Comments

I would like to add some personal views on the UNU Subprogramme concerning arid lands management. I agree with the opinion of Drs. Manshard and Mabbutt expressed at the Tokyo meeting in 1977 and later, that a survey of drylands to establish physical and human environmental regions would be a valuable first step. The record of that meeting states: "Such a survey of environments and the establishment of regional divisions and types should aim to define the spheres of applicability of particular problems of landuse and development as determined by the physical and human environment, and to identify areas of future threat

The first objective of such a survey would be the mapping of physical and human dryland environmental types, to be followed by an evaluation of methods for surveying and monitoring the processes and recovery in selected areas. Among important questions which arise are: How is desertification or ecological degradation actually occurring in a given area, how can it be mapped and monitored, and what can be done to counteract it? Are over-grazing, overcultivation, and excessive cutting of firewood all contributing to desertification? Which is the most important agent of desertification, and how can it be countered? How do local people perceive the problems of desertification?

Several studies prepared for the UNU Arid Lands Subprogramme deal with the topic of perception of desertification, and these reports, written by consultants, will be important in highlighting the particular approach of perception studies, even if they deal with arid lands outside Africa.

Research Approaches through Particular Topics

In discussing the role of science in integrated research and surveys of dryland environmental degradation and recovery, we realize the need for truly integrated action through approaches from many sides. The problems of arid land management are affecting the whole eco-systems, including man and society as well as the environment. However, even if one aims at an understanding of the whole manenvironment system under different types of land-use, it is often necessary and helpful to make a research approach from a particular angle or topic. Such topics might include: Appropriate technology in dryland agriculture. According to many authors and reports, e.g. the DECARP plan, the major land-use problem causing desertification in northern Darfur is considered to be the dryland cultivation of millet. This ought to be an area of high priority for research in western Sudan, and it should preferably be widened to include a wide spectrum of cultivation practices, from traditional small-scale cultivation to mechanized farming schemes, and their respective environmental impact. Wood supply and desertification. Water management and desertification.

The reason for making the use of wood or water resources in the drylands research topics is to make an approach from a particular angle and from there proceed to an integrated view of the dryland eco-system.

The Role of Remote Sensing in Dryland Environmental Monitoring

Every research project on arid land management in the future has to be combined with preparations for environmental monitoring. We are dealing with a dynamic and changing system of man and environment and we must prepare for continued observations on changes in social and environmental conditions (cf. Heliden, 1978). One particularly important avenue for environmental monitoring in drylands is the use of remote sensing techniques, including both photographs and satellite imagery. As an example I will refer to the fact that the satellite Landsat 3, which is now in operation, has a resolution of 40 m, which is a considerable improvement over Landsat 1 and 2. Every research project on dryland management, regardless of its emphasis on social or environmental conditions, should consider the need to find and evaluate the most reliable indicators for combined monitoring at three levels: ground checks, air photos, and satellite imagery.


Heliden, U. 1978. Evaluation of Landsat-2 Imagery for Desertification Studios in Northern Kordahn, Sudan. Rapporter & Notiser No. 38. Geography Dept., University of Lund, Sweden.

Ibrahim, F. 1978. "Anthropogenic Causes of Desertification in Western Sudan." Geo Journal, 2-3, pp. 243-54.

Mensching, H., and F. Ibrahim, 1977. "The Problem of Desertification in and around Arid Lands." Applied Sciences and Development, 10, pp. 743. Sudan, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, and Agricultural Research Council, 1976. Sudan's Desert Encroachment Control and Rehabilitation Programme.

United Nations Conference on Desertification (UNCOD). 1977. "Desertification: An Overview." In Desertification: Its Causes and Consequences, pp. 1-61. Oxford: Pergamon.

POST-graduate studies in the university of Khartoum

Mohamed Omer Beshir Dean, Graduate College, University of Khartoum

Education is probably the most important activity and concern in Africa, and university and higher education is central to this activity and concern. This is true in the Sudan as in other countries. Of the £S 110 million budgeted for Sudan's Six Year Development Plan, £S 35 million have been allocated to universities and higher education. If agriculture is the central activity of the economy in terms of the number of people involved directly or indirectly, education is the second most important activity. It is recognized today that the Sudan has the potential of being not only a grain basket but also a brain basket. In fact, its potential to provide highly educated manpower for the rich oil-producing countries has been recognized. Hence, higher education and its development to satisfy not only immediate and national needs but also future regional needs is a matter of great importance. Emphasis on the development of post-graduate studies in the University of Khartoum is part of this concern.

The late Frank Bowels, author of Access to Higher Education, said that educational systems must go through certain stages of development before new ideas and methods can be introduced. He recognized five stages:

Stage one. The formation of a basic national educational system, with primary schools, vocational schools, teacher training schools, secondary schools, and non-degree postsecondary programmes. The Sudan achieved this in 1948.

Stage two. The establishment of a university offering undergraduate studies leading to first degrees, but without post-graduate programmes or degrees at this stage. The Sudan accomplished this in 1956.

Stage three. Political measures to generalize the basic national educational systems. This has been done from 1956 until today in the Sudan.

Stage four. This is the stage when the maturation of a university takes place. Post-graduate studies emerge, and research programmes which relate the university to national problems are developed. This is the stage which the University of Khartoum has been going through since the early 1970s.

Stage five. This is the stage when the role of the university is extended to reach out to the community, develop new methods of education, and adjust itself to the political necessities of national development and its programmes.

These stages are not necessarily watertight compartments nor mutually exclusive; for example, l think university and higher education in the Sudan is at present undergoing both stages four and five. The university system in the Sudan, especially the University of Khartoum, has reached the stage of maturity and is also undertaking activities belonging to stage five.

Post-graduate studies in the University of Khartoum aim at doing research relevant to national issues and promoting staff development. Post-graduate studies, together with undergraduate studies (which are still the main occupation of the university in terms of numbers of students and funds allocated) have the purpose of making the university reach out to society through new methods, structures, and institutions. The University of Khartoum is not alone in this task; the University of Juba (1977) and the University of Gezira (1978) are also contributing and share the same orientation from the start.

But this is not the only major development in higher education in the Sudan in recent years:

First, there has been an unprecedented increase in enrolments in higher education, both within the Sudan and outside it. The number of Sudanese students enrolled in local institutes of higher education has risen from 11,000 in 1969/70, to about 20,000 in 1973/74, and to about 25,000 in 1978/79. The number of Sudanese students enrolled in higher education outside the Sudan has also grown from 4,000 in 1973/74 to 15,000 in 1978/79. About 10,000 of these are in Egyptian universities.

Second, the number of students eligible for higher education, that is, those completing courses in higher secondary schools, has grown at an even faster rate. The number sitting for the Sudan School Certificate was 20,000 in 1977, and 45,000 in 1978, and expected to increase to 75,000 in 1979, and to 100,000 in 1980.

These figures should not be seen as alarming, but should be welcomed and applauded, provided that appropriate employment opportunities are created. Studies made for the Six Year Development Plan have shown that the demand for mid-level technicians and professionals will exceed the supply. Our main concern is, therefore, the content and type of education provided. The studies have also shown that the bottleneck will be in the area of non-degree education, for the development of this type of education and training has lagged behind for a number of reasons. As a result, the gap between academic and technical education has widened.

What the Sudan needs is to develop mid-level institutes, technical and professional colleges, and universities, as well as post-graduate courses to provide highly qualified manpower.

In this area of post-graduate studies some positive steps have already been taken, and 1972 was a landmark in this respect. In that year, realizing the need and urgency to effectively develop post-graduate studies, the University of Khartoum established a Graduate College with the specific purpose of promoting this important aspect of higher education. It is important, however, to point out that postgraduate studies have existed in the university since 1958, and that some 500 Ph.D. and masters' degrees have been awarded over the past 20 years.

The idea of a post-graduate college was put forward as far back as 1967, but what is significant is that in 1972 action was taken and a college created to promote post-graduate studies related to national development and to train highlevel manpower. Before that date, this function had been diffused in a number of committees, and there was a lack of coherence and integrated planning.

Today post-graduate studies are the responsibility of the University of Khartoum, with its Graduate College acting as the central point for this activity. About 800 post-graduate students are today registered for Ph.D. and masters' degrees, representing 10 per cent of the total university population. This number is expected to grow to 2,000 by 1985.

Several other autonomous institutes within the university which have specific responsibility in this respect are:
-the Institute of Africa and Asian Studies (created in 1972);
-the Centre for Economic and Development Studies (1975);
- the Council for Medical Postgraduate Studies (1976);
-the Institute for Building and Road Research (1977);
-the Institute of Environmental Studies (1978); and
-the proposed Institute of Animal Production (approved by the Senate in 1976, but not yet by the Council).

Although these institutes are autonomous they are not independent of each other, and function in a close relationship with the mother faculties. The Graduate College is closely related to them, but acts rather as a catalyst than in any other way.

The patterns and structures for the development of postgraduate studies in the University of Khartoum are unique and most appropriate for the present stage of development and for what we are hoping to achieve. A graduate college would also be the most appropriate structure for performing the university's role at stage four, in addition to enabling it to develop into stage five in the scheme outlined above.

These single-purpose institutes and centres have proved to be effective and dynamic. Their academic programmes and their administrative structures are free from the traditional approaches and the bureaucracy often found in university faculties. All of them, however, have a common purpose: research, training, and solving developmental and environmental problems. This is also the task of the Graduate College, and all work together to achieve this end.

It is realized that, for the successful fulfillment of this objective, teamwork is most necessary. We have found that departmental divisions, as found in traditional faculties, are harmful in this respect. The institutes have to work as single units. We have also found that the provision of professional non-academic staff, for example, librarians, filing clerks, technicians and typists, is indispensable for the smooth functioning of such institutes.

There are four ways in which the Graduate College and these institutes can contribute to the role of integrating teaching and service to the society:

(a) by undertaking research to define the needs and problems of society;
(b) by training effective contributors for developmental and environmental projects;
(c) by applying existing knowledge to the solution of problems; and
(d) by seeking the co-operation of the university community, the government, other agencies, and the students in carrying out such work.

The Institute of Environmental Studies, which is the subject of this seminar, is rooted in the tradition we have developed in the University of Khartoum. It is not alien to our concepts nor to our experience. In this, it has fulfilled the first prerequisite for a positive role in the unique network we have developed to promote concern and awareness and to help solve developmental and environmental problems in the Sudan.

Establishment of an institute of environmental studies at the university of Khartoum

M.D. el-Khalifa
Dean, Faculty of Science, University of Khartoum

The Sudan is now developing its natural resources at a rapid rate in order to raise the standard of living for its growing population. A number of major development schemes have been undertaken. Agriculture is becoming intensified and extended, in particular through mechanization of new areas of land, both rain-fed and irrigated. Mineral resources are being exploited as a basis for industrialization. Livestock is increasing and new pastures are being opened.

However, there is a danger that in the rush towards the creation of a modern agricultural economy many unanticipated and unintended environmental side effects will detract from the level of development. In other words, the Sudan may be moving along a path which involves a deterioration of past development achievements and an attempt to compensate for this by hasty expansion of production elsewhere.

It is evident from certain statistics that the yield per feddan of certain important crops has dramatically declined. Sorghum and maize yields, for example, have decreased by half, and millet and groundnuts by four-fifths. The decline in sesame production is such that sesame growers have effectively lost 19 out of every 20 feddan. Undoubtedly this overall decline in productivity is in part due to the opening of marginal land, but there is also evidence of falling yields on existing cultivated land. This decline in crop production has also been accompanied by a drop in productivity of forest lands. Acacia woodlands, hitherto used on a renewable basis for fuel and charcoal production, have disappeared over large areas. Most dramatic has been the death and destruction of Acacia Senegal, from which gum Arabic is harvested, resulting in a lowering of the level of production, which had been stable for many years.

The visual evidence of decline is in the disappearance of formerly productive land; where there were once crops or livestock or useful woodlands, there is now arid barren land, man-created desert in the broad sense of the word. Moreover, there is evidence of changes in the composition of natural vegetation and shifting of belts southwards. Accompanying the changes in vegetation there has also been a loss of wildlife in the north; many species have become rare or extinct in many areas.

On a larger scale, the decline in yields and the general process of desert encroachment in the Sudan are the result of a complex pattern of interacting factors. Years with low rainfall have combined with lower water tables to produce crop failure in marginal lands. Increased livestock densities and overgrazing coupled with excess burning are destroying range and pasture. Acacia woodlands are being destroyed for fuel and charcoal and removed over large areas to make way for mechanized farming. In rain-fed areas tillage operations are resulting in wind erosion of the topsoil, aided by the lack of woodland remnants or shelter belts. On irrigated clays the use of heavy machinery is resulting in compaction of soil. In general, new and more intensive agricultural techniques are putting a heavy pressure on established irrigation schemes. Fallow periods are shorter, water management is becoming more critical, and a new pest problem is being created by heavy reliance on pesticides.

On the other hand, expansion of irrigated agriculture has already consumed the country's share of the Nile water 120.35 x 109 m³ ). Therefore future requirements must be met from more expensive sources such as conservation of the swampy regions, ground-water resources, non-nilotic streams, the improvement of poor utilization efficiencies, and recycling and desalination processes. The country has reached a state where optimization between these sources and the corresponding use is a vital need. Such optimization would consider in a rational manner the different economic, hydrological, ecological, sociological, political, and environmental factors.

Finally, the capacity of the rural population to cope with problems of everyday life is being hampered by increases in the incidence of bilharzia (schistosomiasis), malaria, and other diseases.

What has been said is a brief essay on the state of the environment in the Sudan. However, the present level of environmental changes is such that their detrimental effect can no longer be safely ignored. Therefore, new capacitities have to be created to deal with the environmental problem in more comprehensive and integrated fashions. Many universities are becoming more and more aware of such major responsibilities.

In the Sudan, the University of Khartoum is in a favourable position to respond to these circumstances As the country's major centre of advanced studies, it has an opportunity and responsibility to integrate what is now known and to help bring this knowledge to bear on the environmental problems described. It also has a responsibility to seek to create new knowledge where this is needed and to educate decision-makers, resource managers, and the general public about the state of the environment and the dangers that exist.

The nature of the problems, however, together with their urgency, suggests that the traditional approaches by themselves are not enough. A broad integrative approach to environmental problems is needed in which the knowledge and skills of a wide variety of specialists can be brought together and applied towards effective solutions. Limited success has been achieved within the university in the study of arid zone problems and of the hydrology of the Nile as evidenced by the output of the Arid Zone Research Unit and Hydrobiological Research Unit within the Faculty of Science. The efforts of the Geography Department in tackling problems of urbanization and those of the Department of Community Medicine bear witness to the relevance of such studies. Other faculties, such as Engineering and Agriculture, have introduced post-graduate studies directed towards a better understanding of the environment. However, all these are isolated disciplinary efforts run according to old university traditions.

To meet the challenge of creating a broad integrative approach to environmental problems, the University of Khartoum, after a series of prolonged discussions involving highly qualified persons from within and outside the school, is now actively embarking on the establishment of a research and training Institute of Environmental Studies, which is temporarily affiliated with the Faculty of Science during its formative period but is expected to be quite independent within the next two to five years.

The question may arise as to why priority should be given to the creation of an institute for research and post-graduate training. On assessment of the situation, however, it becomes clear that the immediate introduction of an undergraduate degree in environmental sciences, though highly needed, is not feasible at present. The nature of such an interdisciplinary degree requires the implementation of the course-unit system within the university, because, although the components of a coherent course of study leading to such a degree are already in existence, they are scattered through departments and faculties. Moreover, the value of such a degree would have to be sold effectively to many prospective employers.

FIG. 1. Organizational Structure of the Institute of Environmental Studies, University of Khartoum

The arguments for establishing a research and training institute are strong. The creation of an institute represents an effective way in which the university can deploy and strengthen its capabilities. If the institute is broadly interdisciplinary, it can provide a convenient and suitable basis for collaboration among specialists from a wide range of disciplines. Such an institute could project the work which the university is doing and enhance its reputation and value to the community. It could also strengthen research and teaching within established disciplinary and departmental programmes. It could serve as a focus for attracting wellqualified scholars and scientists and for carrying out externally supported research. Indeed, it seems likely that a high quality research institute would quickly attract contract research from within the Sudan.

Among the objectives of the institute will be:
(a) to promote, co-ordinate, and disseminate information about research, teaching, and training in environmental studies concerning the conservation, use, and management of natural resources, especially at the national and regional level;
(b) to encourage and promote interdisciplinary research projects based on teamwork, independently or with other university departments and units, and to constitute the initial platform for multi-disciplinary research;
(c) to offer postgraduate studies leading to higher degrees and to offer a programme of training to develop the skills and capabilities necessary for practical studies of environmental problems, and to give diplomas and certificates; and
(d) to promote further understanding of the environment through conferences, workshops, and public lectures.

The newly created Institute of Environmental Studies (IES) has a governing board, the composition of which reflects the interdisciplinary nature of the institute as well as the importance of bringing in the participation of many interested bodies outside the university. This board is expected to draw up the general policies and approve plans laid down by the Academic Committee, which is responsible with the Director for the daily running of the institute.

One of the most interesting features of the organization of the institute is the non-permanency of its academic staff.

FIG. 2. Relationships between the Institute of Environmental Studies (IES) and Other Institutions Inside and Outside the University of Khartoum. Service units of the Institute are also shown.

The Director is appointed for a limited period, which is renewable. Project co-ordinators are appointed on the basis of joint appointment with their respective departments for a period anticipated to be necessary for the completion of a certain project.

These project co-ordinators are expected to form investigation teams drawn from inside and outside the university. Attached to such teams will be students who are being trained for higher degrees. The appointment of a training co-ordinator will reflect efforts to integrate teaching in the institute with research carried out there.

In our opinion the first task of the institute is to identify clearly areas of priority and to select relevant problems to which the whole range of activities of the institute will be directed. In doing so the institute has directed its focus on three problem areas:
(a) the impact on the environment of the canal which is being dug in the Jonglei area in southern Sudan;
(b) a range of present and potential environmental problems in the Red Sea coastal area, associated with industrialization around Port Sudan, the developing fisheries and oyster farming, the planned extracting of minerals from the Red Sea brines, and also the problem of water supply to the port and the growing industry; and
(c) the very complex problem of desert encroachment in the west; since a wide variety of research directions tend to present themselves, definition of the problem must be the first task, and we hope that this workshop will lay down the guidelines.

The scope for post-graduate training can be very wide, depending on students' qualifications, experience, and interest, employers' requirements, and the availability of financial and other necessary facilities. At present a two-year M.Sc. programme is intended to start by July 1979. The first year will be devoted to an intensive course of study and the second year to individual or teamwork research projects. These research projects will be derived from the three selected areas. One of the most interesting features of this programme is that the syllabus is intended to correspond with the needs of the main environmental problem areas. In this way we can ensure full integration between teaching and research.

FIG. 3. Functioning of the Institute of Environmental Studies for Research and Training

Proposed M.Sc. programmes in environmental studies at the university of Khartoum

M.A. el-Rasheed
University of Khartoum

Preliminary proposals for post-graduate courses in environmental studies were prepared by the writer in March 1978 and discussed in April by members of the committee entrusted with establishment of the Institute of Environmental Studies and consultants invited by the Ford Foundation. However, it was felt that further discussions on curriculum development and observation of operating environmental programmes in established institutions overseas would be beneficial. For these purposes, and in response to a request by the Chairman of the Institute of Environmental Studies (IES), the Ford Foundation agreed to finance a two-week visit to the United Kingdom by the writer.

Consequently, in June 1978 I was able to visit the Centre for Environmental Technology at the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London, the Department of Forestry and Wood Science in the University College of North Wales at Bangor, and the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources in the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Discussions with specialists in different environmental fields at these institutions led to some changes in the proposed M.Sc. programmes of the IES at Khartoum. The suggested changes, incorporated in the appropriate sections below, concern the number, sequence, and details of core subjects of study as well as options and relevant subjects within each option. In addition, I acquainted myself with the subject matter, methods, and co-ordination of teaching and interdisciplinary work in environmental studies at the centres visited.

The proposals made after the United Kingdom visit were further discussed in Khartoum on 21 September 1978. Professor Whitney and Dr. G. Conway, overseas consultants invited by the Ford Foundation, and Sudanese members of the committee in charge of establishing the IES took part in these discussions. Some amendments to the M.Sc. programmes were suggested, which have also been incorporated.

Course Prescriptions

Objectives of the programmes

The programme is intended for specialists from different disciplines and in different activities, and aims at
(a) introducing candidates to various environmental issues and making them appreciate the necessity of interdisciplinary treatment of the problems involved; and
(b) acquiring new capabilities and competence necessary for analysis, assessment, and resolution of environmental conflicts in a more comprehensive and integrated fashion.

Conditions for admission

For admission, a candidate must have la) an honours degree from the University of Khartoum or any other recognized university; or (b) a general degree from the University of Khartoum or any other recognized university, provided that the candidate has a minimum of three years of experience in an activity with some environmental implications.

Course format

The course lasts for two years. The first year involves an intensive course of study covering 12 compulsory core subjects and two optional subjects. The year is divided into two semesters, and the subjects are divided equally between the semesters. Teaching covers about 15 weeks per semester.

The second year involves individual or team research projects. Preparation for research projects should start during the summer vacation of the first year. The problems chosen for investigation by candidates must be part of, or related to, one of the following main research areas: (a) fresh water ecosystems management; (b) arid lands management; (c) coastal zone management; or (d) urban and regional management. A thesis embodying the methods and results of the candidate's research must be submitted by the end of the second year.

The programme also involves study tours, to take place between the first and the second semester of the first year and cover a period of about 15 days. Syllabus details are set out in Appendix D.

Instructional procedures and staff

Teaching and training will consist of lectures, workshops, tutorials, essays, case studies, laboratory and field work, and study tours.

It is expected that instructors in the prescribed programme of study will be full-time teaching staff in the different faculties and departments of the University of Khartoum. Part-time staff from outside the university will be invited to participate in teaching when and where necessary. Some staff members will be requested to direct and supervise the work of one candidate or a manageable group of candidates.

Assessment and examinations

There should be continuous assessment of each candidate, to constitute 40 per cent of the full mark per course (or subject); examinations conducted at the end of each course will constitute 60 per cent of the total mark; and final assessment is to be made on the overall performance of the candidate during the year. Only candidates who pass the firstyear examinations will be allowed to proceed to re search work in the second year. Degree examinations will consist of:
(a) written papers, with or without practical examinations;
(b) a thesis reporting the methods and results of the candidate's research; and
(c) an oral examination.


Proposed joint research project between university college, Swansea, and the university of Khartoum under the United Nations University arid lands sub-programme

H. R.J. Davies University College, Swansea, Wales, UK

At a conference held in Zaria, Nigeria, in 1966 Professor H. S. Darling, Director of the Institute for Agricultural Research at Samaru in northern Nigeria, expressed the view that the scientific solutions to agricultural crop production in northern Nigeria were either known or about to be known, that sufficient was known about economic factors involved to render this problem of rural development solvable, but that the sociocultural problem of getting the scientific solution accepted had hardly been even formulated (Sjo et al, 1967). Similar views have been expressed over the years by other authors such as Chambers (1974) in relation to East Africa. De Wilde (1967) writes, "Successful development of agriculture often requires an intimate understanding of the society within which it is to take place-of its systems of values and its customary restrains," as well as an understanding of the environmental and economic forces involved.

The Sudan has had a good record in rural development projects in the past. Nevertheless, fears have been expressed in recent years concerning the future of the Gezira Scheme (Barrett, 1977), the development of Khashm el-Girba (Dafalla, 1975) and crop yields in areas of soil exhaustion in the Gedaref Mechanical Crop Production Scheme (Shakkak, 1977).

Both the United Nations University Arid Lands Sub-programme and the proposed Joint Research Project between University College, Swansea, and the University of Khartoum owe their origin to the above situation and to the belief that the problems of rural development and rural changes are nowhere more urgent than in the arid and semiarid lands of sub-Saharan Africa, which have recently experienced a series of drier years than people had come to expect, resulting in loss of livelihood, disruption of national economies, and human misery. The UNU Arid Lands Subprogramme is concerned initially with assessing how known solutions to environmental problems have failed to be applied under specific conditions in arid and semi-arid areas. To this end it has commissioned a study into the success or failure of development projects in the Sudan. As indicated below, the Swansea/Khartoum Joint Research Project is concerned with this problem too. Its basic presupposition is that any successful rural development, especially in the arid zone, requires careful attention to environmental, economic, socio-cultural, and organizational difficulties. The project leaders feel that the most difficult problems are to be found in the socio-cultural sector: if people cannot identify positively with proposed changes the chances of their eventual success will be considerably reduced.

The Swansea/Khartoum Joint Research Project is a logical element in the UNU Sub-programme in that it proposes to investigate the interaction of relevant factors in rural development in a specific area within the arid and semi-arid Sudan, and it also falls within the area designated as a priority region by the Sudanese Government within its Desert Encroachment Control and Rehabilitation Programme (DECARP).

Furthermore, it is considered that the approach which we are undertaking should form a necessary part of the procedure for the training of Sudanese or other officials concerned with facilitating the transfer of known techniques and solutions to arid land problems. It is only through a proper understanding of the interaction of environmental, economic, socio-cultural, and organizational factors that rational and practicable solutions to problems can be introduced.

In addition, this research could form a pilot study for the possible development of out-stations, including the determination of their functions and field of operations.

The Swansea/Khartoum Joint Research Project

The Joint Research Project was initiated by the Departments of Geography at University College, Swansea, and at the University of Khartoum. It has developed from contacts at the personal level between the two departments dating back to 1960. In 1977 this co-operation was formalized into an academic link between the two departments under the sponsorship of the British Inter-University Council for Higher Education Overseas. The link arrangements cover academic exchanges for teaching and staff training at lecturer, postgraduate student, and technical levels. The two departments are also encouraged to develop some cooperative research, though the actual field of study need not be confined to that of the two departments concerned.

On the basis of interests in the two departments and urgent current problems in the Sudan, it was decided to investigate aspects of rural conditions in an area west of the Nile along the southern edge of the Sahara, within the area designated for priority research under the Sudan's DECARP Scheme.

The project area chosen lies to the west of the main Nile and White Nile between Shendi and el-Dueim, stretching westwards towards the Wadi cl-Milk. This area was chosen for the following reasons:
(a) it has been seriously affected by desertification;
(b) it is a manageable and reasonably accessible area for a relatively small team, but could be expanded if desired;
(c) it has received little detailed attention in the past; and
(d) it exhibits a wide range of differing ways of life:
-nomadic pastoralism;
-land rotation under rain-fed agriculture;
-irrigated agriculture, both modern and traditional;
-a number of market towns including some oasis centres; and
-commercial gum and groundnut production.

Aims of the project

The primary aims of the project in relation to the project area may be summed up as follows:
(a) to ascertain the existing situation;
(b) to ascertain the changes that have taken place during the past 20 years; and
(c) to make recommendations for remedial action. it is our belief that successful rural development requires attention to:
-environmental conditions;
-economic conditions;
-the socio-cultural traditions of the society; and
-administration and organization.

The project attempts first of all to make a study of these aspects within the area drawn from a range of disciplines. The study will also include an investigation of
-geological formations, landforms, soils and vegetation;
-climatology, stream flow and water-supply;
-agricultural patterns, landuse, and forest products, including gum production;
-population, population structure, population change,
-nomadism, and migration;
-transport and marketing;
-socio-economic aspects of urban and village life and struc sure; and
-formal and informal organizations and perception with special reference to local attitudes to rural changes.

Inevitably this will also involve the use of aerial photographs and satellite imagery, and a survey of research already carried out in the area, in analogous areas in the Sudan, and elsewhere. It is intended that these studies will be carried out at more than one level and that the general survey will be reinforced by case studies.

On the basis of our work it is hoped to define the basic principles for action. Our experience so far indicates that a successful rural development project requires:

(a) adequate in-depth research;
(b) adjustment of the proposed development to meet the most deeply felt needs and aspirations of the people affected so as to enable them to identify positively with the changes proposed;
(c) a sympathetic and understanding relationship of mutual respect between the project organizations and the people affected;
(d) an acceptance of the fact that instantaneous success cannot be achieved and that change must "hasten slowly" (failures not only waste resources, they also sap confidence); and
(e) an acceptance that there is no detailed blueprint for success.

Results to date

The project will not start officially until December 1978. However, some work connected with the project has been completed or is in progress:

(a) General studies: population studies and nomadism (in progress); climate, climatic change and water balance (in progress); soils and vegetation (1979); perception and rural changes (1979-80); organizations, government and the community (1979-80); transport and marketing (1979-80); central places and settlement interaction (1979-80); landforms and water-supply (early 1980); and rural land-use and agricultural patterns (early 1980).
(b) Case studies: Gummuiya Irrigation Scheme, in Southern Gummuiya between Omdurman and Jebel Aulia (completed).

Some of the interesting conclusions of the completed research so far are:

(a) Success in the eyes of the people may be different from that proposed by the planners. The Gummuiya Scheme was planned to produce vegetables and fruit for Khartoum. In practice it has become a large sorghum field, and the people view the scheme favourably because it has secured crops by providing irrigation water.

(b) It was assumed that cultivators would be interested primarily in growing a crop that would give them the most money. Our survey shows that though money is importent it is certainly not the primary need as seen by the scheme cultivators. Their priorities may be listed in order of:

-secure food supply;
-secure feed supply;
-more leisure and less hard work; and
- monetary gain.

In a region subject to periodic crop failures in the past, with an animals-owning tradition and where life is difficult, this list of priorities is hardly surprising. Irrigated sorghum provides all these with the minimum of disruption to existing ways. It is a crop with which they can identify; it provides the staple food; it can be used for animal feed; it requires relatively little work and its cultivation is known already; and it can be sold in Omdurman or Jebel Aulia either as grain or cut green.

(c) Even within 30 km of the capital city a crop production system suitable for the local environment and attuned to local economic demands is not a sufficient base to guarantee success in terms of the original aims.
(d) The establishment of trust and sympathy between the planners, scheme administrators and the cultivators is a prerequisite for success.
(e) The need for local involvement and genuine consultation was made manifest.
(f) The essential conclusion to be drawn is not that the planners were wrong or that the people are stupid. Merely that at this point in time, the original proposal appears not to have been the best scheme for southern Gummoiya, but it could very well have been suitable for some other parts of Khartoum Province.


Ultimately only the Sudanese can solve the Sudan's problems and only the Sudanese can decide on priorities and policies. All that the foreigner can do is to assist within the given framework when asked.

This means that the Swansea Geography Department's role in this research project must be on the following lines:

(a) provision of specialist facilities not otherwise easily available-e.g., aerial photographic interpretation facilities, cartographic assistance, computer facilities, printing, etc;
(b) experience and expertise in fields and disciplines which are at present weak in the Sudan, e.g., soil investigations, social surveys, etc.;
(c) experience and expertise in rural field studies acquired from other parts of Africa (east, west, and southern Africa), as well as from Europe; and (d) provision of suitably qualified manpower for case studies or fieldwork to support the manpower available locally in the Sudan; this would include particularly post-graduate research studies.


For such a joint research project as this to be successful, not only must both parties be committed to it, but the programme must also be flexible. It must be organized in such a way that failure to complete one portion of the programme does not invalidate the rest. The intention, therefore, is that it should end with a series of maps and reports which can stand by themselves, and form a coherent whole when put together.

It is hoped that this Swansea/Khartoum Joint Research Project can be fitted into the UNU Arid Lands Sub-programme in the Sudan, and into the work scheme envisaged for the University of Khartoum's new Institute of Environmental Studies.


Barnett, A. 1977. The Gezira Scheme: An Illusion of Development. London: Cass.

Chambers, R. 1974. Managing Rural Development: Ideas and Experience from East Africa. Uppsala: Scandinavian Institute for African Studies.
Dafalla, H. 1975. The Nubian Exodus. London: Hurst.

De Wilde, J.C. 1967. Experience with Agricultural Development in Tropical Africa. 2 vols. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins.

Shakkak, K.l. 1977. Mechanisation of Agriculture in the Clay Plains of the Sudan, with Special Reference to the Gadaref District.M.A. thesis. University of Khartoum.

Sjo, J., B.J. Buntjer, H,R.J. Davies, and D. Norman. 1967. Proceedings of a Seminar on Methods and Problems of Data Collection and Use for Rural Economic and Social Research. Samaru Miscellaneous Paper No. 16.