My name is Awab Elamin, and I live in Sudan.
I took part in Climathon Khartoum 2019, hosted by the Impact Hub in partnership with the UNDP and the MNCEC.
The Impact Hub. Oh man. What a place. What a vibe. What staff! That's my favourite thing about the Hub - their people. Every single member of staff was beyond welcoming throughout our whole stay. From rhythmic drum beating, to maracas and singing, it all added to the magic of the experience.
Within 24 hours we were supposed to come up with a project or idea for extreme weather conditions caused by climate change in Sudan. The themes were high temperatures, heavy rains and flooding, or desertification and sandstorms.
We formed teams and others all across the globe were engaged in the same activity simultaneously. I was lucky to be in one of those teams! Team 8, or Herbivores as we were known, was a match made in heaven. The team’s belief and confidence in the idea we came up with was what fuelled us through the tiresome 24-hour grind.
We were not to leave the premises during that time - the pressure was immense, and rightly so, because pressure makes diamonds. Each team member had a unique contribution to the effort, and I couldn't have asked for a better team.
“We all knew that winners or not, what we were working towards was the building of a more resilient Sudan and a greener planet”
Team Herbivores worked tirelessly on a desert restoration pilot.
As a result of desertification caused by bad agricultural practices – both farming and herding – the grasslands and pastures vital to some rural communities’ lives are decreasing in size.
In areas like Darfur this has created armed conflict, as herders wander into farmland areas with their livestock in search of food.
Other communities have migrated to cities, where they usually end up in squatter camps and face trouble integrating, while also decreasing the country's agricultural capacities in the process.
The key objective of our project was to turn desertified land into healthy grassland sustainably by using large livestock. Their hooves dig up the soil in such a way that allows water and air to better penetrate the soil surface, allowing for more effective use of rain and less run off water. This system borrows from mother natures’ endless years of experience and mimics what wild herds do in nature. These herds can be the very force that sustains the vital grassland ecosystem.
Other objectives included providing free training to rural communities in regenerative agriculture, enabling rural communities to engage in regenerative work and helping them to market their produce and generate better livelihoods, and increasing the amount of effective rain use in desertified or desertifying areas by maintaining grasslands that better absorb water and contribute to mitigating floods. Our hope was to provide a model for desert restoration that could also be upscaled in order to stop sand creeping.
Although the event was a competition of sorts, competing teams didn't hesitate in helping each other with their projects.
There was a strong feeling of comradery because we all knew that winners or not, what we were working towards was the building of a more resilient Sudan and a greener planet. That united us all.
Laughs were shared, smiles were abundant but above all else, a common mission was prevalent.