“So often times it happens, that we live our lives in chains,
And we never even know we have the key….” — “Already Gone,” The Eagles
This lyric sums up the recent revelation of massive and very deep water aquifers discovered under the northern part of Africa. (‘Huge’ water resource exists under Africa.) Specifically, the biggest source is under north-eastern Chad, throughout much of eastern and southern Libya, and under some areas of Darfur. (There is also a significant source under Mauritania and Western Sahara.)
In other words, droughts that the western Sudanese have been suffering through for years (only 57% of the population has access to improved water sources – CIA World Factbook), could have been largely mitigated by tapping into this resource. If the Khartoum government, instead of attacking, pillaging and raping both the land and the people, had invested in both people and sustainable land use, we could today be seeing a much greener vision of that area of the world. Instead, corruption, greed and extremism have prevailed, and we have a decimated landscape as well as population.
Darfur has fallen off the front page recently as the focus (as well as Sudan’s military) has shifted to the border with South Sudan, amid the north’s sudden frantic realization that the South has decided to take its petroleum toys and go play with other nicer, regional playmates, leaving Sudan without a significant source of previously reliable revenue.
But the problems in Darfur still persist. What can be done? The United Nations and African Union have some forces there, and some aid agencies have made progress, but there is still a tremendous amount of work to do. To truly effect change in the region will require a major political shift in those who control the country and that still seems a long ways off with President Omar al-Bashir firmly in charge despite the international pressures to alter that situation.
One organization that has been consistently working to raise awareness is Aid Still Required. They have been consistent in getting the word out about conditions in that inaccessible area. They also have a program, not yet launched, which could potentially help the people of Darfur tap into this vast water resource right under their feet. It’s called The Village Reforestation & Advancement Initiative (VRAI).
We’re unfortunately pretty far away from even beginning to implement such projects and there will be many, many projects of this type needed. But I will hold on to the hope that, like the untapped and powerful resource of this underground water, the resource of empowered people in Darfur will eventually be released to rebuild their region and their lives.
Thanks for stopping by,
PS. If you want to see an excellent documentary of exactly what has happened there (with footage the journalist and ex-Marine risked his life to get), watch The Devil Came on Horseback. You can see an excerpt here on Youtube: The Devil Came on Horseback excerpt. (Warning: includes some very graphic and disturbing stuff.)