Strengthening the capacity of government and communities in South Sudan to adapt to climate change

Project General Information


Climate change

Climate Change


Project Objective: To increase the capacity of government and vulnerable communities to adapt to climate change in South Sudan.

South Sudan is the world’s youngest nation. It has an unsettled past with the region experiencing a period of near-consistent war for the last ~60 years. In 2011, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in a move that many anticipated would restore peace to the volatile region. However, peace was short-lived and internal conflicts broke out again in 2013. In early 2016, the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) and other South Sudanese political parties agreed to form the Transitional Government of National Unity. Although not without challenges, the Transitional Government is striving to bring peace and stability to the country. This is of critical importance as years of conflict and marginalisation have left South Sudan as one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world. The prolonged conflict has undermined traditional social structures and community coping mechanisms and has had negative social impacts on affected communities.


As the country is underdeveloped, communities in South Sudan are particularly reliant on natural resources for their livelihoods. These natural resources include rivers/wetlands and woodlands that provide water, fish and a range of timber and non-timber forest products. Water resources include four main river basins, namely: Bahr el Jebel, Bahr el Ghazal, White Nile and River Sobat. The White Nile traverses the country from south to north and floods to form the Sudd Wetland, a vast swamp that measures 30,000–40,000 km2 in extent. The potential sustainable fishery production from these sources has been estimated at 100,000–300,000 tonnes per annum. Woodlands[1] cover approximately 32.4%[2]  of the country and provide an assortment of valuable goods and services to local communities and the country as a whole. For example, the formal forest sector directly employs approximately 23,000 people and contributes ~$400 million towards the country’s gross domestic product (GDP)[3]. Furthermore, an estimated 96% and 40% of rural households use fuelwood (i.e. firewood and/or charcoal) for cooking[4] and household lighting respectively[5]. In addition to fuelwood, forests provide a variety of other ecosystem goods and services, including: i) non-timber forest products (NTFPs) such as medicinal plants and food sources; ii) cultural and social services such as recreation and tourism; iii) regulating services such as soil protection, air/water purification and carbon sequestration; and iv) supporting services such as nutrient cycling and soil accretion.


Despite their importance to communities, natural resources are being rapidly degraded. This degradation is a result of rapid population growth[6], a large rural population[7], limited access to electricity[8], continued internal conflict, high food insecurity[9] and insufficient management. Indeed, it is estimated that 277,630 ha of forest[10] – approximately 5% of total forest area – are cleared each year through, inter alia: i) land clearing for cultivation, roads and settlements; ii) charcoal production; and iii) fuelwood harvesting. The GoSS recognises the importance of natural resources in contributing to local livelihoods[11], and has prioritised the need to reduce ecosystem degradation. The degradation of natural resources diminishes the capacity of these ecosystems to provide some of the goods and services that local communities depend on for their day-to-day livelihoods. Moreover, the ability of forests to buffer local communities against the negative effects of climate variability and change is compromised.


Communities in South Sudan are already vulnerable to climate change.Approximately 86% of rural households in South Sudan rely on rain-fed agriculture and animal husbandry as their main source of livelihood[12]. Like all rain-fed systems, climate (rainfall) variability is a fundamental factor that determines uncertainty in agricultural output, making people relying on rain-fed agriculture for their livelihoods exceedingly vulnerable to erratic rainfall, floods and droughts. Although limited data availability precludes the modelling of specific climate change scenarios in South Sudan, a regional analysis showed that summer rains declined by 15–20%, and temperatures rose by >1°C, from the mid-1970s to the late 2000s in parts of the country[13]. In the future, rainfall is expected to become increasingly erratic, increasing the incidence of both floods and droughts. Indeed, 62% of rural households already claimed to have been severely affected by droughts and/or floods from 2005–2009. Temperatures are also likely to continue rising, which will intensify the effects of droughts . Research on the Sobat River and the Bahr el Ghazal river catchments suggests that an increase of 2°C in temperature might cause the natural flow to fall to 50% of the current average. In addition to accelerating the current degradation of natural ecosystems, future increases in the frequency and severity of extreme climate events will likely lead to: i) decreased food security through failed crop yields, loss of livestock and reduced NTFP production; ii) decreased water availability for drinking and irrigation; iii) reduced water quality; iv) increased soil erosion; v) increased incidences of diseases such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery; vi) increased frequency of fires as a result of droughts; vii) reduced energy supply through diminished availability of fuelwood; and viii) internal conflict as a result of human competition for scarce resources.


An additional factor that will likely exacerbate the negative impacts of climate change on local communities and ecosystems in South Sudan is the limited ability of local communities and government to anticipate, and effectively respond to, climate change-induced disasters (i.e. droughts and floods). As a result of damage to infrastructure during the civil war, only three out of a previous 43 hydro-meteorological monitoring stations are currently operating across the country[14]. The limited technological capacity of the near non-existent hydro-meteorological monitoring network impedes the: i) collection and analysis of climate information for the forecasting of disaster events; ii) timely broadcasting of disaster warnings; iii) effective response of government and local communities to the warnings iv) analysis of climate change projections and how these interact with socio-economic projections for the country; and v) integration of climate change predictions into development planning. Such impediments increase the vulnerability of local communities to climate change-induced disasters and can potentially lead to loss of human life and property. Better information on climate change risk projections and vulnerability to climate change-induced disasters in South Sudan can and should inform adaptation planning. By developing fundamental and innovative strategies to adapt to climate change, the resilience of local communities and natural ecosystems can be strengthened.

The problem that the proposed LDCF-financed project (hereafter referred to as the LDCF project) seeks to address is that local communities in South Sudan are vulnerable to climate change, and both they and the government have limited technical and institutional capacity to adapt to the predicted effects of climate change. The vulnerability of local communities to climate change is exacerbated by: i) the degradation to, and a reduction in ecosystem goods and services from, natural resources; and ii) the lack of climate information for effective adaptation planning.

The proposed solution is to strengthen the capacity of local communities and government in South Sudan to be able to plan for and implement a suite of adaptation interventions – such as Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA), additional livelihoods and climate-smart agriculture ­–that improve ecosystem services and reduce vulnerability to climate change. In addition, the capacity of the government to  collect and analyse hydro-meteorological data for effective climate monitoring  and adaptation planning will be strengthened. This will be achieved by: i) providing training and awareness of climate change adaptation to government and local communities; ii) improving government coordination mechanisms for climate change planning; iii) developing land use change and climate change vulnerability assessments to inform adaptation planning; iv) implementing on-the-ground climate change adaptation interventions in project intervention sites; v) developing or refurbishing hydro-meteorological monitoring stations in flood- and drought-prone states; vi) training government staff on how to collect and analyse hydro-meteorological data; and vii) disseminating knowledge and lessons learned throughout project intervention sites.


Barriers to achieving the implementation of a suite of climate change adaptation interventions and the development of a hydro-meteorological monitoring network exist in South Sudan. These include: i) limited institutional, technical and financial capacity of government to plan for and implement climate change adaptation interventions; ii) limited awareness of climate change among government and local communities; iii) limited understanding of climate change adaptation interventions and the benefits provided by ecosystem services as a result of few on-the-ground examples; and iv) limited technical and financial capacity of the government to develop a hydro-meteorological monitoring network.

The LDCF project will overcome these barriers by: i) strengthening the technical and institutional capacity of government to plan for and implement climate change adaptation interventions; ii) increasing knowledge and awareness of climate change adaptation interventions; iii) demonstrating climate change adaptation interventions to decrease the vulnerability of local communities and ecosystems to climate change; and iv) providing technical and financial resources for developing a hydro-meteorological monitoring system and strengthening capacity to use the data collected to inform adaptation planning.


[1] including woodlands

[2] FAO 2011. Land cover atlas of the Republic of South Sudan. Rome.

[3] Accessed on 11 April, 2016.

[4] including water sterilisation

[5] NBS 2011. National baseline household survey 2009. Report for South Sudan.

[6] Since gaining independence, South Sudan’s population has grown at an average annual rate of ~4.3%[6]. A substantial proportion of this growth can be attributed to the return of millions of displaced people from camps in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.

[7]Approximately 81% of the country’s ~12 million people live in rural areas. Accessed 11 April, 2016.

[8] 0.2% of people living in rural areas have access to electricity. IEA, World Energy Outlook 2015.

[9] FAO 2016. Special report: FAO/WFP crop and food security assessment mission to South Sudan. Rome.

[10] UNEP 2012. Environmental impacts risks and opportunities assessment: natural resources management and climate change in South Sudan. Juba.

[11] Tiitmamer, N., 2015. Assessment of policy and institutional responses to climate change and environmental disaster risks in South Sudan. The Sudd Institute.

[12] NBS 2011. National baseline household survey 2009. Report for South Sudan.

[13] Funk, C. et al., 2011. A climate trend analysis of Sudan. US Geological Society.

[14] Tiitmamer, N., 2015. Assessment of policy and institutional responses to climate change and environmental disaster risks in South Sudan. The Sudd Institute. 

Full Size Project(FSP)



East Africa - South Sudan


LDC Trust Fund

Stage Grant to UNEP Grant to other IA Co-Financing UNEP Fee Other IA Fee
$ 9,032,420.00 $ 0.00 $ 30,000,000.00 $ 858,080.00 $ 0.00
$ 150,000.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 14,250.00 $ 0.00





Executing Agency Category
Multilateral agency

Partner Category
National Government Agency

Name Category Period


Fiscal Year Project activities and objectives met

$ 0.00