HAPpy Hour- The Role of Regional Hydro-climatic Modeling of the Sudd: South Sudan’s lungs, to support Sustainable Development Planning

Jun. 29, 2023

3:00 – 4:30 pm MDT

FL1-2198 EOL-Atrium
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Deng M. Chol

DPhil Candidate School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford University

Deng Majok Chol is currently a DPhil Candidate in the School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford University, pursuing research on the social hydrology of South Sudan under climate and socio-economic change: South Sudan’s lungs: sustaining the Sudd under climate and socio-economic change. Deng earned a B.S. in Political Science and Economics from Arizona State, an MBA from George Washington University, and an MPA from Harvard University. He was a research assistant in the Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Laboratory and the Center for Global Change Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was also a researcher for the United Nation Office for Project Services in partnership with Oxford University. Previously he was a global humanitarian protection technical advisor and member of the international humanitarian disasters rapid response team at Samaritan’s Purse. Deng is key member of the South Sudan Public Awareness Forum, “No life Without Water: Develop and Manage the White Nile Water Resources and the Sudd Wetlands Sustainably” where he participated on the Sudd Wetlands and the White Nile Water Resources Development and Management Initiative.

Kenneth Strzepek

Climate, Water and Food Specialist, MIT Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab

Kenneth Strzepek is a MIT Research Scientist in the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, and Jamel Water and Food System Lab, a faculty Fellow at the MIT Office of Sustainability, Visiting Fellow at the Martin School, Oxford University, and Professor Emeritus at the University of Colorado. Professor Strzepek’s research and practice is at the nexus of engineering, climate, environmental and economics systems.
He was an Maass-White Fellow at the USACE Institute for Water Resources and received the Department of Interior Citizen’s Award and as a lead author for IPCC he is a co-recipient of the 2007 Noble Peace Prize. He graduated from MIT with a S.B. and a S.M. in Civil Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Water Resource Engineering. He has broadened his expertise with an M.A. in Economics from the University of Colorado and is currently a PhD Candidate in Economics at the University of Hohenheim.

South Sudan is bisected by the White Nile. Its waters rapidly descend from the equatorial plateau and spreads out over the flat central plains into the Sudd wetland before exiting as the White Nile in the north. The population in the Sudd are vulnerable to the seasonal and perennial flooding from the Nile. The flooding of past four years has led to an estimated 1.7 million people or 15% of South Sudan’s population being displaced.
In addition to flooding risks, the population living in the Sudd faces several water security issues that are threats to sustainable social and economic development.
1. Limited access to safe water due to unreliable water supply.
2. Extractive industry pollution leading to serious water quality and public health issues.
3. Transboundary hydro-politics with the potential restart of Jonglei canal being pursued by Egypt with the backing of Sudan.
Climate change poses an additional threat as increasing equatorial Lake flows and local rainfall are projected to continue and become even more threatening under most emission scenarios. Analyzing the issues and developing sustainable policies, technical, and implementation plans requires an understanding of the potential regional climate change, the hydrology, and the social systems of the Sudd as well as potential interventions and governance structures.
This talk will present the complex dynamics of the Sudd’s development from a socio-ecohydrological research framework. We will present a background on the hydro-climatology of the Sudd and the social and economic setting of South Sudan, and its vision for sustainable development. The successful development of the Sudd region is depended on an accurate projection of the future flooding risk which is driven by the climate over the Lake Victoria Basin and the Sudd. There are limited modeling analysis of the climate change impacts on the Victoria Nile and the Sudd. We will present what is known to date and how regional scale hydro-climate models linked to hydraulic flood modeling tools are needed to provide South Sudan’s planners and stakeholders with the information to make resilient infrastructure investments and be an informed player in the high stakes’ hydro politics of the Nile basin.


Please direct questions/comments about this page to:

David Yates

Scientist III


Lulin Xue

Proj Scientist III