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Friday, 14 December 2018

Environmental Education and Public Awareness in Sudan (1)

(Maushe Kidundon) - Environmental education and awareness is one of the tools for combating environmental degradation

.  This recognition is also embroiled on the fact that EE&A is also key in obtaining and maintaining public support for environmental protection and nature conservation.  Since the early 1970s definitions, methodologies and implementation tools and structures have been suggested and tested in various forums, regions, countries and communities.  Achievements and impacts have been varied registering some success and failures.

This paper is intended to provide some guidelines on how best the EE&A can be fitted within the proposed National Plan for Environmnetal Management in Sudan.  In order to achieve this objective, the paper gives a brief history on EE - globally & within Sudan - current implementation stuructures, suggests a list of broad activities ends on a few workable recommendations.


There is widespread recognition that Environmnetal Education and Awareness (EE&A) is a tool to be used to halt environmental degradation and to lay groundwork for environmentally sustainable economic growth.  This recognition is also embroiled on the fact that EE&A is also key in obtaining and maintaining public support for environmental protection and nature conservation.  Lessons leant while implementing Environmental Education and communication (EE&C) also support this fact.

In the early 1970s the school of thought was provision of knowledge.  However, as practitioners worked with various stakeholders, it was realisted that human behavious was key in obtaining attitute change.  Martha C et al, (1994) reiterated this.  Knowledge alone doesn’t harm or help the environment.  Human attitudes don’t harm or help the environment.  Human behaviors, on the other hand, have greatly harmed, yet hold a great deal of hope for helping, the environment.  Consequently, working towards environmental sustainability addressing human behavior is inevitable.  Behaviors, of course, must be supported by knowledge and attitude change.

EE&A Historical perspectives of the Sudan

The first crucial realisation of EE come into being after the years of crisis (1983 – 1985) which brought to the surface concerns for environmental protection and rehabilitation of degraded areas. Such concerns led to the belief that the success of any rehabilitation measure or conservation programme must be based on efforts to raise the environmental awareness of citizens and decision – makers. In this respect, it was realised that environmental education and training will play a critical role in the attempts of environmental protection and in the implementation of remedial measures to rehabilitate degraded or desertified areas.

Recognizing the lack of a well planned programme for EE, the Institute of Environmental Studies, University of Khartoum, held the first workshop in 1983 on “Planning for Environmental Education in the Sudan”. The two-weeks workshop on the philosophy and methodologies of EE, curriculum development and strategies to introduce EE recommended the need for training of teachers before implementing any programme of EE.

In 1984, the Institute of Environmental Studies initiated the implementation of the recommendations through a teachers training. workshop which concluded with a set of recommendations:
a)The development of institutional arrangements necessary for the successful implementation of EE in the Sudan;
B)Training of teachers at the elementary and secondary levels in the Sudan;
c)The development of instructional materials for EE and;
d)The development of educational facilities to support EE in the Sudan. (Workshop Report, 1985).

After a series of initial workshops, a collabirative project was initiated in 1987 - “Hope in the Desert” with an objective of infusing EE withing the existing school curriculum,
Environmnetal Education Legistaltion and Policy in Sudan

Major economic and development plans drawn in early years of independence include the Ten – Year Plan (1961 – 1971) followed by the Five – Year Plan (1970 – 1675) and the Six – Year Plan (1977 – 1983). Different objectives were emphasized in these plans.  The Ten – Year Plan emphasized the transformation approach, where modern agriculture got most of the resources with objectives of increasing national income, neglecting the traditional sector.  This period witnessed the expansion of the mechanized rain – fed farming at the expense of the traditional sector and the environment. The environment was severely affected in terms of soil erosion as the result of the clearance of trees for farming operations.

Sudan was also one of the first African countries to promulgate legislation concerning protection of the environment.  Studies carried by Mubarak T. M. (1989 – 2000) showed that there are about 150 Acts and Orders and related regulations addressing environmental issues.  However, these laws are sectoral, fragmented and lack comprehensive look to the total environment.  Since 1984, efforts were made to improve these laws by formulating an umbrella law with strong policy orientation that provides a basis for coordinative work (Amado S. Tolentio, 1994).  These efforts materialized in 2000 by passing “Sudan’s Environmental Act”, which was a tool to harmonizing the different environmental sectoral laws, set environmental standards, and injection of environmental dimension in development plans,protection of biodiversity, prohibits pollution, raises environmental awareness and popular participation in setting policies and decision – making.

The other piece of legislation is the Sudan’s 1998 Constitution which support Sudan’s Environmental Act through Article 13 (refers to the role of the State in the protection of the environment in its purity and natural balance in pursuance of safety and sustainable development for the benefit of generations) and .Article 9 (refers to natural resources as national heritage and public property regulations)
In realizing the need for the country’s long – term sustainable development strategy rather than a series of short – term plans with little continuity or stability, a National Comprehensive Strategy NCS (1992 – 2002) was developed where objectives and priorities for sustainable development were spelt.  The NCS also provided policy directions to all economic and social sectors and country’s environmental strategy, which states clearly that environmental issues must be embodied in all development projects.  The strategy recommended the adoption of the following policies and directives:
1.Planning of development projects must consider its continuous productivity, renewal, making use of appropriate technology suitable to local environment and Sudanese life styles;
2.Environmental impact assessment is a requirement for any development project with likely impacts on the environment;
3.Establish a national organ with branches in the States to guide, coordinate and supervise environmental activities;
4.Improve and update legislation;
5.Use of incentives, charges and taxes on activities.

These policies and plans are supported by sectoral strategies. These include: National Economic Salvation Programme (1992 – 1993); National Biodiversity Strategy (1999); National Action Plan to Combat Desertification (NAP); Water policy (1999); Forest Outlook; Document on Sudan’s Commitment to Social Development; Population Policy; Main Elements of Poverty Eradication Strategy.

It is worth noting that all these policies and strategies contain elements on the need for environmental awareness raising and training.

The main weakness of the NCS is the lack of coherence as it was the result of work of different sectoral teams without strong efforts being made to establish horizontal and vertical integration. Among the directives of the NCS is the concern for poverty alleviation, popular participation and call for the incorporation of community – based organizations and indigenous knowledge in the development process.
Policies and legislations with the education sectors gives indications on how EE should be delivered.  In Sudan, the conference on policies of education (1990) represented a land mark in Sudan’s educational policies and environment as is translated into Goal no. 6:
“Developing environmental awareness and acquainting posterity with the components of nature in water, land, and space to appreciate them as God’s bestowal and conserve and use them for man’s benefit”
Whereas good legislation and policies in support of EE implementation there is still lack of coordination.  For proper environmental management beside laws and regulations, there is need for the creation of appropriate coordinative structures.  This could be supported by develoment of EE&A policy.

Institutional Structures for EE&A activities implememntation in the Sudan

The Sudan consutitution established the federal system in the country where the Sudan is divided into 26 States. Hence, responsibilities for environmental management are divided between the Federal and the State governments. The Federal government has the exclusive jurisdiction on matters relating to natural resources, minerals, sub – terranean wealth and trans – boundary waters, etc. Detailed regulations on lands, state forests; agriculture, animal and wildlife are the responsibility of State subject to federal planning and coordination. In case of conflicts, federal jurisdiction over environment and natural resources prevail over state jurisdiction. There are issues which are considered joint or with concurrent powers. These include environment, environmental health, tourism, town planning, housing and quarries. Beside these provisions, the constitution also provides for the establishment of councils to assume division and planning of lands and forests between the federal authority and the states.

Ideally the HCENR is resposnbile for the coordination and implementation of EE.  This is however not happening at the moment.  In addition to the HCENR, there are Water Council, Public Health, and National Council for Physical Planning and new councils to be established for the division of land forests. Under the present circumstances, strong horizontal linkages are to be created among these councils to avoid conflicts and waste of efforts despite the existance of Environmental Act which provides the general framework to coordinate efforts and provides the guidelines.
A deleiberate effort is needed to create a strong EE Coordination office withing the HCENR and similar offices in each state.

Environmnetal Education and Awareness Issue within Sudan

Environmnetal issues and threats with Sudan are well documented (NBI, 2001).  Table 4 below gives a summary of the threats, prioty actions to be taken and type of immediate action.  EE is high on the agenda.
The are efforts by both the government and non-governmnetal organisations to create awareness of these threats to communities and other stakeholders.  The next section gives examples of formal, non-formal and EE at tertiary level.

Non – formal (Public) Environmnetal Education in Sudan.

In Sudan non-formal EE&A activities, targerts professionals, planners, politicians and other decision – makers.  The Sudanese Environment Conservation Society (SECS) and the Environmentalists Society (ES) played major roles in this field through advocacy and lobby.  The second group includes the public in general.  Again, most NGOs target this group for their awareness raising programmes using different methods including: newsletters, brochures, pamphlets, publications, environmental pages in newspapers, radio programmes, exhibitions, songs, paintings, use of multipliers, interpersonal communication etc. It is worth mentioning that NGOs in general, have played a major role in the promotion of environmental health through campaigns, health education (committees for health), optimal energy consumption (promotion of improved cooking stoves), and other activities that involve public participation. The third group is youth where NGOs mobilize such youth and volunteers in all activities. Some NGOs work with schools to improve the school environment. The experience of Sahel International (SOS), SECS and E.S are prominent in the field of establishing school nurseries, planting trees in schools, formation of school societies and clubs.  SECS programme in drama, puppet show and songs found appreciation by school staff and children. Most of these activities are implemented through" learning by doing".

There are doubts about the suitability of environmental education programmes by NGOs. Any educational programme should be linked to issues (courses) taught at the school and linked to the academic achievements previously acquired by the school children during their regular course of education. To be effective, informal education must reinforce courses taught. However, non- formal education in general is flexible and could be tailored to the needs of the society and capable of coping with changing environmental conditions. Again, most NGOs education activities are linked to projects they are under- taking. Water supply is linked with health education and proper hygiene practices.  Annex I gives a summary of projects which had EE&A activities.