September 1986 - July 88

(ODA) + (IBRD)

Land Use Planner/Team Leader

Western Savannah Project, Phase II, Nyala, West Darfur

Limpalong Land Rover - bonnet up again

The Western Development Corporation (WSDC) was set up in West Darfur as a development centre for agriculture and to assist with settlement of the nomads or semi-nomads in the area.

 Hunting Technical Services (HTS) and Mott MacDonald (MMP) supplied expatriate staff over many years to this study. Staff supplied included agriculturists, agronomists, extension specialists, livestock specialist, economists, soil scientists, land use planners and various engineers - civil and mechanical.

Nyala was not an easy place to reach as there were no surfaced roads linking it to the rest of the country. There was, however, a railway line - the local air services used the railway as a navigation tool. Sudan Air did have flights off and on during the life of Project but normally staff had to rely on the charter service provided for Project by Nile Safaris using a 12-14 seater Cessna. This could be exciting - read on below.

Based in Nyala, Western Darfur in Sudan within the ODA / IBRD funded Western Savannah Development Corporation. During the first part of the input (1986 - 87) as Land Use Planner but undertook the additional role of Team Leader for the ODA input from mid 1987.

Project HQ was at Kilo some 5 kilometres outside Nyala where the view was often described as MMBA'ish for those who have been in Africa.


On the left is the view from the Kilo Compound whilst above is the compound, otherwise known as Moon-Base III.


Author's Input:

Totally re-organised, catalogued and expanded the database of materials consisting of maps, air-photos and satellite imagery.

Analysed all existing soils laboratory data and established fertility levels, deficiencies, toxicities and correlations with soil physical parameters. Refer LUP Notes tabulated below.

Several of the field investigations were done in close co-operation with the agronomist (Jonathon Robinson or JR)- seen on the right doing a farm survey.

Follow-up studies, designed in the light of some of the donor-reviews carried out, included testing various liming material on the very acidic, sandy Qoz soils and the design of field trials using local materials.

Installed, monitored and analysed tillage trials, including water-harvesting and amelioration inputs, on compacted alluvial (Naga'a) and capped, degraded Basement Complex soils in efforts to improve crop (sorghum) yield and re-establish fodder grass and trees.

Laterally, LANDSAT and SPOT imagery obtained and used for monitoring land use and vegetation change and for land use planning pilot studies.

One of the difficulties with doing fieldwork was that "Limp-Along Land Rover" spent a lot of the time with "Bonnet-up Syndrome" when not halted by punctures and, of course, the amazing allowance of 4 - 5 gallons of fuel per week to meet all requirements - fieldwork, administrative and shopping in Nyala.

All studies and reviews were written up as LUP (Land Use Planning) Notes - details of which can be seen below.

All the notes were written as simply as possible to ensure ease of use by local staff. Investigations were never very sophisticated as resources and equipment were very limited, one example being that all the liming materials used for the liming trials (LUP Note AAH / 1 / 88) had to be "home made" from available materials. The author still has some of the text and tables for the notes on disk - but the software used was Volskwriter and conversion to up-to-date word processing programmes is a bit tedious and slow. Notes that are available with the author are highlighted in colour in the lists below.

All reports were left with the LUP Section in Nyala, West Darfur, Sudan. Copies supplied to HTS Ltd., Thamesfield House, Boundary Way, Hemel Hempstead, Herts, HP2 7SR, UK.


First arrival in Nyala was nearly the last as there was a massive storm and the pilot went higher and higher to avoid it - eventually everyone fell asleep as we were in an unpressurised Cessna.. When we came round we were very lost and forced to land in the bush to establish just where we were - we only hit one tree on the way down. Local villagers then told us how far to Nyala (1 - 2 days, by foot of course) so the "runway" was cleared and the plane took off again and this time we found Nyala, much to relief of everyone.

Spent the first few weeks living in the WSDC Rest House and paid the eventual price, admission to Nyala General Hospital with severe stomach problems. One visit to the hospital toilet instilled the desire to get better and go back to the Rest House. Later moved into a house on the WSDC compound (Moon-Base 3, or it looked like it at night) and joined by Isabel who found some work with local consultants and doing examinations for the British Council, in Nyala and in El Fasher.

Whilst in Nyala inherited the task of keeping the swimming pool clean - dreadful task as the equipment was not the best, played a lot of squash in the open-air court (learned to play with racket in either hand and had good "personal battles which were usually won by the right hand).  Did fair bit of running in the sands around Nyala and even tried laying the odd HASH or two but few people joined in.

Built-up a most acceptable cellar of the "amber" home-made liquid plus a fair selection or reds, rose and whites - "kerkadeh" makes a very tasty red. The meat supply in Nyala market was limited but very good steaks were available and were rather tasty on the home-made BBQ.



Land Use Planning Notes: (Note details presented in red means author still has copies and these have a link on this page)

Note No.


AAH/ 1/86

Qoz Soils - 1985 Laboratory Data

AAH/ 2/86

WSDC Agronomy Section Annual Report 1985 Season

The Comparison of Forms of Phosphate Fertilisers

AAH/ 3/86

Soils of the WSDC Area

AAH/ 4/86

Idiot's Guide to WSDC Soils

AAH/ 5/86

Aluminium Saturation and Liming

AAH/ 6/86

Analysis of Available Laboratory Data - Qoz

AAH/ 7/86

Analysis of Available Laboratory Data - Naga'a

AAH/ 8/86

Available Moisture Capacities (AWC)

AAH/ 9/86

Observations on Qoz Trials


Observations on Naga'a trials




Aero Precisa 1:40,000 Aerial Photographs


Naga'a Rehabilitation Amelioration


Alkalinity of Naga'a Soils and Possible Amelioration


HSL Ltd 1:40,000 Aerial Photographs


Map Compilation Programme 1986/87















1987 Series


AAH/ 1/87

Crop Yield versus Soil pH at Dimsu DC

AAH/ 2/87

Analysis of Available Laboratory Data - Basement Soils

AAH/ 3/87


AAH/ 4/87

Rehabilitation of Basement Soils

AAH/ 5/87

Calcium Deficiency in Qoz Soils

AAH/ 6/87

Southern Darfur Aerial Photographs - 1957

AAH/ 7/87

New Settlements

AAH/ 8/87

Livestock Holding Compound - Kilo *

AAH/ 9/87

Naga'a Tillage Trial : WSDCC 1987 -Jumeiza **




Basement Tillage Trial ; Hashaba 1987


LUP Filing System


Approximate Areas of Land Systems in the WSP-2 Area


LANDSAT 5 (Colour) Hard-copy Held for WSP-2 Area


Land Systems and Land Use in the NWA Pilot Scheme Area



Notes * Re-written, expanded as AAH/ 4/88

** Re-written, expanded as AAH/ 3/88

1988 Series


AAH/ 1/88

Liming of Qoz Soils (See paper below)

AAH/ 2/88

Naga'a Plant Pot Trial

AAH/ 3/88

Naga'a Tillage Trial - Jumeiza 1987

AAH/ 4/88

Tillage, Tree Planting and Grass Seeding on Basement

AAH/ 5/88

Criteria for Selecting Sites for New Wateryards

AAH/ 6/88

Dimsu Survey 1987

AAH/ 7/88

SPOT Imagery Hard Copy Held for the WSP-2 Area


 LUP Section Annual Report