Sudan, the largest country in Africa, is a land mostly of semi-arid terrain and extreme temperatures. Despite this harsh environment, the majority of the population depend on subsistence agriculture, which employs over 80 per cent of the workforce and contributes 35 per cent of the GDP. However, the long-standing civil war in the south and the conflict in Darfur, adverse weather and weak world agricultural prices have meant that most smallholdings remain rain-fed and susceptible to drought, and that the majority of the populace are extremely poor. For a nation, battered by the rigours of war and climate, livestock are a valued and essential lifeline for survival.
Since 2004, fighting in Darfur has destroyed hundreds of villages, displaced over two million people and resulted in more than 400,000 deaths. Livestock remain an essential resource for most Sudanese, particularly in this western region, but husbandry is often poor, animals are vulnerable to disease and services are lacking.