The ABCs of Sustainable Development Goals and Sudan’s situation XVI

Goal 14: Life below water

Goal 15: Life on Land

By Dr. Hassan Humeida

KIEL, GERMANY: The fifteenth goal of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is about “Life on Land”. It aims to preserve the land and its wealth and natural resources of all kinds, based on consciously rationalizing their use to achieve the set sustainable development through the United Nations until 2030.

The land area is only about 30% of the total area of the Earth while the water area covers about 70%. The figures spotlight the limitations of this land space used as a habitat for plants and a shelter for animals and humans.

This narrow space on Earth’s surface, shared by numerous species, is fraught with multiple dangers, including floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, forest fires, mud and rock slides, and avalanches of permafrost.

Among the risks, there is also the deliberate destruction of the earth’s layers in search of minerals, exploration for fossil fuels, and commercial industrialization linked to the pollution of air, soil, water bodies, fresh water sources and their underground stores.

There is also the unjust felling of trees and the burning of forests to grow genetically modified agricultural products for the purposes of livestock promotion.

More threats to Earth include the revving of engines and the elimination of wildlife and aquatic life for profit purposes that conflict with natural protection laws.

In light of global climate change and its long-term effects on the planet and its living organisms, it represents, as mentioned earlier, the greatest challenge to living organisms of all kinds, whose shelters and lives are affected as the global climate crisis worsens. The Earth’s average surface temperature has risen by 1.5°C on average since weather records began.

The increasing content of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere is blamed here due to man-made effects, at a time of climate change and global warming, leading to warming of the earth, oceans, seas and bodies of water. This has risen sharply compared to pre-industrial times,

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere has increased in recent years, not only without decreasing, but also from the necessary precautions that have also been put in place to limit this increasing rate.

The year 2018, with an average annual temperature of 10.4 degrees Celsius, was the warmest year in Central Europe since the first weather records began in the beginning of 1881, which led to an increase in the average temperature by 1.5 degrees Celsius.

It should be noted here that this increase in carbon dioxide is not only caused by natural emissions into the Earth’s atmosphere, but also by humans as an “anthropogenic greenhouse effect.”

The result is that all of this not only leads to the melting of glaciers in the polar regions and, consequently, a rise in sea levels, but it also leads to extreme climate activities, such as floods and hurricanes in some regions and forest fires, drought and desertification in others.

Those affected all over the world are being forced to leave their homes, escaping climate change and the resulting natural disasters, seeking to avoid poverty and hunger and avoid diseases related to the onset of these calamities.

An example of this is the outbreak of deadly epidemics such as cholera, which is quickly transmissible, easy to treat, but fatal when aspects, like precautions, isolation and treatment, are neglected.

In addition, climate change leads to an increase in migration movements between countries and continents, including migration to rich countries, taking the most difficult roads that are always arduous, thorny, unknown, and fraught with death on all sides, mainly in the desert or the sea.

Hence, climate change and its long-term consequences are deemed among the main causes that lead to human exploitation through illegal migration, and the subsequent human trafficking to pay the exorbitant material, moral, and physical costs at the highest prices.

These costs are to be paid by individuals, groups or families who are in fact poor, and who are becoming poorer and more destitute as the global climate crisis worsens and there are no suggestions and no ways to implement or even find practical and sustainable solutions.

This threat resulting from the global climate crisis is not confined to humans, and it also affects the lives of plants and animals in their various habitats, especially those that are rare in their kind, naturally protected, or threatened with extinction.

If we take at this point small farmers as important producers in feeding themselves and the people, we find that they are the most vulnerable to climate change.

Why are they considered more important in feeding themselves and the people? Because, despite their simplicity and the simplicity of their traditional production methods, they supply world markets with no less than 70% of global agricultural production.

According to the statistics of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP), affiliated with the United Nations (UN), this percentage is statistically consistent with the percentage that is considered one of the most important recommendations of the two organizations to confront the global need for food and the ever-rising global population growth.

This means that global production of agricultural production of food and fodder must also increase by 70%, to meet the requirements of 2050 and to meet food needs and secure global food for all peoples.

This step is a necessary step to respond to the annual global population growth of more than 80 million people every year, and, subsequently, to respond to the expected global population growth of 9.63 billion people in 2050.

Other challenges disrupting global agricultural production include most small farmers. This is related to limited access to arable farmland, irrigation water, improved seeds, lack of travel means for small farmers and their families in remote areas, poor access to agricultural markets, low prices, and a lack of microcredit for critical stages of crop planting, harvesting, and transportation to markets.

All this is happening in times of climate change and global warming. The decline in production of all kinds is reflected in the life of every consuming citizen, when the farmer, shepherd, or fisherman leaves his rural home and migrates to large cities where he ends up in a shelter that is not suitable for human life.

A shelter that is not suitable for weather changes and does not meet the basic requirements of human life. This makes him vulnerable to diseases in the absence of safe drinking water, good food, and healthy housing facilities. This happens in cases where the rural producer is not killed in critical accidents.

As rural humans fall sick, national economies become ill too, and global markets, which often wait for the organic products of developing countries, including fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, rice, gum, oils, spices, coffee, tea, and other products important to humans, are also affected.

The existence of food-producing sectors was historically determined by the existence of humans after the Stone Age and after the era of hunting and gathering. In the example of agriculture, the beginning was settled agriculture on small areas, which expanded to larger ones.

A historic change began when lands became suitable for agriculture and animal husbandry at the same time. In the presence of such changes, people preserved the ancient traditional methods and human experiences in agriculture prevailing then.

A focus based on this point shows that close ties between farmers through “agricultural cooperation” and local and global organizations of farmers are very important for advancing such a sector, especially small farmers – a forgotten group in today’s world economy.

Small farmers can cooperate and exchange ideas and experiences in many direct ways, be it about farming methods or agricultural experiences that have lasted for centuries, conquering wars, or people crossing continents to live a dignified life, free of poverty and hunger.

In this symbiotic and solidarity way, farmers could help one another and protect small agricultural structures from economic losses considering the ongoing global climate crisis.

The success of agriculture as an ancient craft should later be reflected in the prices that small farmers receive in local and global agricultural markets without a third intermediary.

This can be a positive step towards increasing the income of small farmers and their families, thus making a positive step towards social justice (avoiding poverty, hunger and disease) and achieving sustainable development globally.

We should not forget here that small farmers all over the world, especially those in the poorest countries in the world, provide organic agricultural products free of pesticides that are harmful to health.

Accordingly, their various products are currently the most coveted among all the well-off people, and specifically the wealthy segment of them.

Here, production is distinguished from the planting stage to harvesting and marketing, in that the work steps are often carried out in a traditional and environmentally friendly manner, without the use of harmful materials such as chemically produced plant treatments, including herbicides and pesticides.

Most organic products are of excellent quality, so their price in global markets must be reasonable for the consumers, and remunerative for the producers.

The other global challenge, which is parallel in its course and violence to climate change now and in the long term, is the increase in the world’s population without the world suggesting or finding appropriate solutions to it.

This has already reached the eight billion-mark since November 15, 2022, coinciding with the limited land area suitable for production and living, the availability of sources of drinking water, protein-rich food, clean energy sources, wealth that satisfies the hunger of industrialized countries, and the existence of job opportunities that guarantee a decent living for people in the modern era.

Experts and statisticians in the field of population development indicate that the population may reach 10 billion people by 2050, and that supplying the entire population of the Earth with food will require 1.7 globes instead of one globe.

As mentioned, the Food and Agriculture Organization predicts that food and feed production will need to increase by 70% to meet global demand and feed everyone on Earth.

The same applies to clean drinking water for humans and animals, as well as the water intended for irrigating orchards and agricultural fields.

Water resources will become even more scarce in the future, as many lakes and rivers have shallow waters or dry up completely. Different countries on different continents, especially the desertified and the poorest countries, are affected by the food and water crisis and the challenges for obtaining water and food from their own resources.

For years, population migration has been observed in countries such as China, India, the United States of America, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Brazil.

India is expected to soon overtake China in terms of population and occupy first place in the world rankings. Nigeria currently ranks third, ahead of the fourth-placed United States of America.

Pakistan, Indonesia, and Brazil come in fifth, sixth, and seventh place, respectively. This means that the global demand for food and feed also increases with the increase in population.

Many countries are currently looking for alternatives to milk and its products, eggs, fish and meat to meet their daily needs of protein necessary for life. Other sources of proteins taken into account are plants, insects, worms and fleas.

Among these countries, there are some that are doing well to control their resources. Others remain resource-poor or do not have any means to meet their people’s daily needs.

In the future, many countries will feel the consequences of climate change more acutely due to local and global population increases. They will pay a heavy price if the necessary measures are not taken in a timely manner to reduce or avoid these consequences.

What is particularly important here is the contribution of the rich industrialized countries, which are in fact responsible for global warming caused by human activities, and its serious consequences on production and way of life.

These should be engaged through responsible solidarity and symbiotic action to search for and find solutions. In addition to financing effective and sustainable projects, education and qualification of staff are also essential to address fundamental problems, such as climate change and population growth, using appropriate local tools.

These measures include the transfer of knowledge, experience, modern and locally-adapted technologies and projects to improve family and birth planning, as well as medical advice, practical education and the receipt of important information in schools and communities in this regard.

At the nutritional level, experts recommend planting traditional varieties that are resistant to water shortages, heat and drought and whose total costs can easily be borne by residents.

If possible, these plants must also be usable the following season, i.e. not genetically modified.

Digging underground wells, creating ponds, raising bees and small farm animals, or making gardens in home courtyards can also contribute to the production of herbs, vegetables, and fruits to achieve self-sufficiency for individuals.

Of great importance for global sustainability are practical exchanges such as preserving trees and forests, but also creating areas with green spaces, and planting trees and shrubs in schools, homes, villages and cities, according to the notion of a local or school tree nursery.

There is also the importance of launching and reinvigorating dialogue between the countries of the North and South for a sustainable world.

This activation should be based on dialogue, participation, and on working together to improve consumption and prevent the generation of waste that is harmful to the health of the environment and nature.

This may include determining the per capita share of plastic used, especially in industrialized countries, monitoring the health of the air, soil, oceans, seas and water bodies and protecting rare and endangered species on land and underwater.

In addition, the quality of water in water bodies in industrialized countries is tested, and the maximum quantity for an individual’s daily use is determined.

Monitoring wildlife in natural reserves, monitoring the extent of their vulnerability to climate changes leading to forest fires, and integrating early warning systems in threatened residential areas on land and on the waterfront should also be considered.

Other possibilities are the transfer of modern and adapted technology to countries of the Global South, education and training of personnel, and exchange of experiences between developing and developed countries.

More options include obliging countries and companies causing environmental and natural disasters to pay compensation or penalties consistent with the damages resulting, for example, from fossil energy extraction, oil spills, large industries, large-scale industrialization, unjust cutting of trees, unjust hunting of rare species, smuggling of forest resources by watering plants and animals, and commercial industrial fishing that is devastating to the depths of oceans and seas.

Regarding Sudan, an agricultural country whose production includes agricultural production and livestock, the country enjoys a vast area, fertile lands, and rainy seasons that allows its citizens to engage in rain-fed agriculture.

Sudan also has a significant number of permanent and seasonal rivers that allow citizens to cultivate in agricultural cycles outside the rainy season.

Agriculture, as an important sector for the livelihood of people in Sudan and neighboring countries, has a long history and deep-rooted traditions, dating to the pre-Kushite civilization and continuing with the Kushite and the Meroitic civilizations to which the basics of modern mechanics are attributed, especially the basics of agricultural mechanics and irrigation mechanics reinforced throughout the country’s ancient civilizations and kingdoms.

The list of the agricultural and irrigation equipment and machines that were native to those ancient Nubian civilizations and kingdoms features the bucket, the shaduf, the waterwheel, the pulleys, the gears, and others …*

In the harsh conditions of war currently overwhelming Sudan as an agricultural and productive country, the people are greatly affected by the outcomes.

At the forefront of the obstacles preventing work in this important sector is the lack of safety for farmers, herders, and merchants, and the armed conflict has already claimed the lives of a large number of producers in their workplace.

There are people who did not die from the fires of war, but lost everything they owned – traditional tools, cars, tractors, or other equipment- after brutal attacks on the property where they worked. Shepherds were not spared the loss of their livestock, as the animals were led away in broad daylight and at gunpoint.

Now, with each passing day since the Sudan war, the damage being caused to the most important sectors in this country, which has great importance for its wealth and resources in East Africa, is being monitored.

Sudan was not only affected by the war in the agricultural sector, but also in other sectors such as grazing, fisheries, and forest wealth.

The displacement of large numbers of residents of the capital and rural cities launched the destruction of the remaining forest wealth and wildlife in Sudan’s remaining forests.

Due to a deplorable lack of food, fuel, and cooking materials, many residents of villages and desert areas have resorted to cutting down trees or hunting some rare species of animals designated under global environmental protection, to consume as food.

It was seemingly their best way to escape death from starvation, and to survive the merciless war.

Wildlife observers in Sudan notice the decline of wildlife and the deterioration of its conditions as it is affected by the ongoing war, which has led to the lack of food and water for the sparrows and birds that nest in the trees on farms and streets and in homes and institutions. The sparrows and birds have abandoned their nests and dispersed, searching for safe places.

Even the sound, noise, and smoke of the weapons, machines and engines used in war prevented migratory birds from making their customary way from cold countries to shelters in Sudan.

Now, these birds flew and passed through Sudan to continue their flight and land in safe countries.

The animals in the zoos that suffered for days of thirst, hunger, and disease were also affected. Hungry, emaciated, and sick, they left for other countries that provide them with drinking water, food, and treatment.

These are some of the terrible and deplorable conditions for the people, animals and the state.

It is unfortunate that the consequences of the war in Sudan are being forgotten by the international community. If there is a society that cares about human rights, especially in the sub-Saharan African continent, it must endeavor to end this war and the suffering of the citizens of Sudan.

As regards the fifteenth goal of the Sustainable Development Goals, “Life on Land”, and Sudan’s status in relation to it, the country has been considered, for decades, a storehouse of rare mineral resources worldwide, and the food basket of the geographical region in which it is located.

This characteristic gives Sudan, over the years, its lost meaning among nations. The meaning that several parties are trying to hide and obscure to satisfy international ambitions regarding its wealth and natural resources.

These ambitions are related early to the old colonial era, and later to the entry of oil exploration companies into the country, and ultimately, to their exit by their own decision and under the pretext of the lack of security in Sudan for exploration.

Subsequently, other companies came and took their place, and oil was extracted and the living standards improved. However, this also quickly created for Sudan internal problems and wars in the name of religion and ethnicity.

This led to the country, the largest in Africa and tenth worldwide, getting divided into two parts in 2011.

Hostile organizations, skillfully and with the help of some Sudanese agents, abused Sudan and undermined the Sudanese prosperity project on the principle of the “divide and rule” policy.

The plan finally succeeded in separating families, turning them into enemies who could not stand one another and, eventually, led to the war that does not seem to end as it serves the interests of other countries.

The hostile and warring parties should always be reminded that Sudan’s future lies in its wealth, natural resources and its human assets – if they are well utilized and employed.

The years, decades, and centuries must not pass by while the people of Sudan forget the wealth that lies beside them and misthink that the people of other countries will bring them peace, development, progress, and recovery from the clutches of poverty, hunger, and disease.

To achieve all this, the people of Sudan must first agree among themselves, and on the principle that “big problems can only be solved in small rooms.”

If people succeed in this, they can carry their success to other countries that, to date, have no interest in Sudan’s concerns and problems.

We are one of the countries that have been considered, since ancient times, a great burden on a selfish international community that cares only about its local interests and within a narrow scope.

If self-serving agents come to Sudan one day with negative designs, they will endeavor to dismantle it and divide it into smaller entities, taking advantage of the people’s heedlessness.

They benefit from every problem characterized as a crisis, which allows some countries, and other dependent states, to fish in troubled waters.

* Sources: Documentation of the basics of mechanical engineering and its history over time, the Mechanical Engineering Conference at Harvard American University, compiled by Dr. Abbas Ahmed Al Hajj, and presented by Dr. Abdel Moneim Abdel Mahmoud Al Arabi.


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