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Can New Water Source Save Darfur?

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A newly discovered massive underground freshwater lake in Sudan could
help alleviate the region's severe drought stress and become a nexus
for peace in the Darfur region, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.(National Geographic, MSNBC.com and others first described the
discovery in April, but researchers put more certainty on the find
yesterday.)

[From the AP story, July 17, 2007]

El-Baz [director of Boston University's Center for Remote Imaging]
said water pumped from the underground reservoir -- measuring as large
as the state of Massachusetts -- could help ease tensions in Darfur.
The wells could enable Darfur's nomadic Arabs to maintain their
lifestyle, sedentary communities to flourish and irrigation to
kick-start agriculture activities that may feed trade and economic
growth in the region, he said during a telephone interview.

Scholars have long documented conflicts over water and the depths that
civilizations have gone to protect their supply or deny it to others.
Will this deep, blue reservoir under the desert become a font of
peace, prosperity and agricultural rebirth?
If the discovery lives up to expectations, we can hope. Of course,
success will depend on who will control the wells.

(Dr. Peter Gleick's Water Conflict Chronology is online here. To learn
more about peace, cooperation around water resources, visit the
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Navigating Peace
initiative.)

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