FAO in Sudan

Green Climate Fund approves USD 10 million project for climate change mitigation and adaptation action in Sudan’s gum Arabic belt

The project will help reduce emissions from forestry & land use and increase the resilience of the most vulnerable communities in Kordofan.

GCF project to enhance adaptive capacity of local communities and restore carbon sink potential of Sudan’s gum Arabic belt, expanding Africa’s Great Green Wall

The Board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) today approved a USD 10 million grant to enhance the adaptive capacity of local communities and restore the carbon sink potential of the Gum Arabic belt, expanding Africa’s Great Green Wall. The project will be implemented jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Forest National Corporation (FNC), in collaboration with the  Higher Council for Environment and Natural Resources.

“This intervention will help the local communities in Kordofan adapt to climate change by improving management of natural resources, increasing smallholder gum producer prices and enhancing livestock mobility in the project area,” says Babagana Ahmadu, FAO Representative in Sudan. 

The importance of “climate-proofing” Sudan’s agricultural sector

Sudan is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change. In the Kordofan States – where the project is based – 98 percent of agriculture is rainfed and thus heavily exposed to climatic variables. Yet, average temperatures in the area increased by almost 2° C between 1989 and 2016, more than double the global average. Temperature-driven moisture loss and natural resource degradation not only threaten food security, but also the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and pastoralists who are among the most vulnerable groups within the Sudanese population.

Sudan is the world’s largest producer of gum Arabic

Agriculture accounts for 32 percent of Sudan’s gross domestic product. As the world’s largest producer of gum Arabic, the country will continue to depend on agriculture to increase its exports, generate foreign exchange and reduce the current account deficit.

Gum trees are one of the most resilient crops in terms of withstanding increased moisture stress caused by rising temperatures and they can be grown together with annual crops to protect the latter against climate hazards. Gum Arabic is an emulsifier and a stabilizer made from the exudate harvested from the branches of Acacia senegal and Acacia seyal trees. It has multiple uses in many common products, such as shoe polish, ink, pharmaceutical drugs, fillings, soft candy, chewing gum and other confectionery; it is also used to bind the sweeteners and flavourings in soft drinks and as a thickening agent in icing.


Gums for Adaptation and Mitigation project

The Gums for Adaptation and Mitigation in Sudan (GAMS) project is the first GCF funding proposal approved in what FAO defines as the Near East and North Africa region. It aims to enhance rural smallholder households’ resilience to climate change in eleven localities in the states of North, West and South Kordofan through climate-resilient gum agroforestry and rangeland restoration.

The project is fully aligned with the national REDD+ strategy and with Sudan’s nationally determined contribution (NDC), and will thus contribute to achieving the Paris Agreement. Offering a solid platform for the Great Green Wall umbrella programme, the project will build on Sudan’s considerable experience in gum Arabic production, which can be scaled up in other countries and adapted to different national contexts.

“Sudan and FAO have been partnering successfully for over 42 years. With FAO’s expertise and the Government’s commitment, the GAMS project will contribute towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the livelihoods of the most vulnerable communities in the country,” says Rashid Hassan, Secretary General of the Higher Council for Environment and Natural Resources (GCF-NDA).

A twofold approach

There are two core components of the GAMS project: One is restoring smallholder gum agroforestry systems while improving the position of smallholder farmers in the gum Arabic value chain; the other is establishing livestock routes, restoring rangelands and strengthening regulations and cross-sectoral coordination for improved climate change adaptation at landscape level.

Specifically, the project will support the restoration of 75 000 ha of smallholder gum agroforestry systems and the reforestation of 50 000 ha of degraded lands while also improving smallholder gum value chains. Smallholder gum Arabic producer groups (GAPAs) will improve their position in the value chain – and earn higher incomes – by building their technical, organizational and commercial capacities as well as partnerships with gum buyers and market authorities. The more their position improves in the gum value chain, the more motivated farmers will be to maintain acacia trees, which contribute to diversifying incomes and ensuring food and nutrition security.

In terms of rangeland restoration, 400 km of livestock corridors will be rehabilitated and equipped. Restoring full livestock mobility will not only increase the climate resilience of smallholder pastoralists – by facilitating the migration of livestock to water and fodder so they can better adapt to extreme weather – but will also reduce emissions from land degradation.

Gender Equality

Women play a key role in the country’s economic activities, including the gum Arabic value chain. Forty percent of women are estimated to be involved in gum production nationwide, yet they only represent an estimated 17.5 percent of the members in the gum Arabic producer associations in the project area. The GAMS project includes a gender action plan, which is supported by the transitional government, to tackle gender inequality in the country and to raise gender awareness among various project stakeholders. By encouraging women’s involvement in project activities, increasing their access to assets, and strengthening their decision-making powers, the GAMS project stands to achieve long-lasting impact.