Seminar and photo exhibition “Never ending (always transforming) irrigation space”.

Kenana, 18 th February 2023

Mariasole Pepa -Postdoc Researcher, Department of History, Geography and of the Ancient World, University of Paduawill take part in a seminar intitled “Never-ending (always transforming) irrigation spaces”.

It will take place on 19th March at 17.30, at the CEDEJ Khartoum.

The seminar will explore the recent fieldwork conducted in different irrigation schemes from West Nile, Kenana, Gezira, and Guineed to the modern pivot irrigation systems in the River Nile State. Reflections from the ‘field’ will be discussed concerning the work that the research group from Padua University in collaboration with the Faculty of Geography and Environment at Khartoum University has conducted for the last 30 years and the AtlaSahel project will be presented.

In particular, the seminar aims to open a discussion on the recent changes in agriculture that regard the diversification of production, the use of new and digital technologies, and the recurrent challenges related to financial, water, and electricity issues. On top of this, a new wave of investments in pivot irrigation systems is widening in the River Nile State. Old “fashion” and completely new changes are brought together to reflect on how the reshaping of agricultural spaces will affect the relation between human and nature, and more-than-human interactions.

After the seminar, there will be the opening of the photo exhibition “Never Ending (always transforming) irrigation spaces” which contains some of the pictures taken during the fieldwork and preliminary findings.  The exhibition runs from March 19 until May 19 at the CEDEJ gallery. The presentation of the exhibition can be found below in Arabic and English. This exhibition is funded by the CEDEJ Khartoum in the frame of the project “Green Citizenship” (

Short Bio

Mariasole Pepa is a postdoc researcher atDepartment of History, Geography and of the Ancient World at the University of Padua. She is currently involved in the research project AtlaSahel which investigates issues of water and land in the Sahel and Sudan in particular. Pepa is an Adjunct Professor for the Master’s degree in Local Development at Padua University where she teaches a course on “Geographical Space: concept, tools, and practice”. She concluded her Ph.D. with a thesis on Africa-China agricultural cooperation, and this year she established with other colleagues the first Italian association on Africa-China studies. She is part of the working group on Covid-19 in African and Asian Drylands. Finally, she is passionate about critical and decolonial approaches to development and she is the grant coordinator of the Cost-Action Decolonizing Development. Mariasole obtained a CEDEJ Khartoum fieldwork grant in 2023.

Presentation of the exhibition

“Everything in Sudan is about the issue of land”

Water and land are intriguing geographical lenses to explore the societal transformation in Sudan. This exhibition aims to illuminate the multiplicity of agricultural irrigation systems and their recent changes. The photos were taken during fieldwork jointly conducted by the Faculty of Geography and Environment at the University of Khartoum and the University of Padua in February 2023. The research took us to the White Nile Sugar Company, Kenana Sugar Company, Gezira, Al-Fao, Guineed (Sudanese Sugar Company), Al-Waha (DAL Group), and up to River Nile State in Ed Damer, Abtara, Berber and Shendi.

Different and sometimes opposite ways of irrigation agriculture co-exist and evolve in Sudan. The diversification of production, the use of new technologies, and the call for climate-smart agriculture which construct a new layer of “digital territories” bring new questions for the future of agriculture.
These changes are developing within the old issues of land and water ownership, pollution, and the challenges of weed and siltation control. This is happening in the frame of severe climate change and a wave of national and international agricultural investments that could increase the pressure on water and land resources. For instance, a new (or not so new) wave of agricultural investment in pivot irrigation system (“the green circle in the desert”) is taking place in the River Nile State, both from national investors and international companies including from the Gulf and China. The long-term impact of the pivot irrigation system, due to the large amounts of water needed and land access, should be taken into consideration, together with the implications for the local communities involved. Overall, agriculture remains a controversial sector in and beyond Sudan. This exhibition aims to provide ‘geographical lenses’ to read some of the changes happening in the agricultural irrigation sector in Sudan.

This exhibition represents a starting point to open other collective reflections such as, what is the future of agriculture? Which kind of agriculture and for whom? How are different irrigation spaces related to human and more-than-human interactions? How are different irrigation systems shaping mobility?

If you would like to be updated about the project, follow our progress at:
For suggestions and comments, please email
This project was made possible by the time and help of all the people we had the pleasure to meet
during field research, the commitment of the Faculty of Geography and Environment at Khartoum
University, the support of CEDEJ, and the expertise of Downtown Gallery Khartoum.

This exhibition was partly funded by the Green Citizenships Project led by CEDEJ Khartoum.

Citer ce billet
cedejsudan (2023, 15 mars). Seminar and photo exhibition “Never ending (always transforming) irrigation space”. Researching Sudan - A perspective on contemporary Sudans. Consulté le 22 février 2024, à l’adresse

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