News / Africa

Water Scarcity Root of Darfur Conflict

Multimedia

Audio
Lisa Schlein

The conflict in Western Sudan's Darfur region erupted more than eight years ago.  It has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced an estimated two million people.  Disputes over scarce water and grazing land between black African farmers and Arab pastoralist communities triggered the war.  Lack of access to water remains one of the major drivers of the ongoing conflict in Darfur.   An international conference in Khartoum at the end of June will focus on the critical issue of water and how the equitable use and management of this limited resource can help build peace in this troubled region.

When people in developed countries want water, they turn on the tap.

When people in Darfur want water, they have to search far and wide for it.

A UN video shows women and children walking long distances through the arid desert to fetch water in Darfur.  They wait in lengthy lines at the communal well to fill their jerry cans with water for their drinking and washing needs.  This process is repeated every three or four days.

According to the United Nations, one person uses nearly 400 liters of water per day, in the world's wealthiest countries.  In Darfur, 400 liters of water is shared by 20 people.

Mohamed Yonis is Deputy Joint Special Representative of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur.

"Water is one of the main root causes of this conflict," said Yonis.  "There is a need to address this issue and we do believe that water will serve as an instrument for peace."  

The United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has been in Darfur for three and one half years.  Yonis says well managed and equitably distributed water resources can ensure sustainable peace for the people in Darfur.  

"Water we believe is life and we believe it could contribute to the initiatives that the UN is making in terms of trying to reach peace with the people of Darfur," added Yonis.  

The United Nations is mediating Sudan peace negotiations in Doha, Qatar. But, a political solution remains elusive.  The world body is hoping for better results from the Water Conference it is organizing jointly with the Government of Sudan at the end of the month.

The conference will seek $1.5 billion from donors to support 56 water projects over the next six years.  These projects will focus on rebuilding the water infrastructure devastated by conflict and neglect.  They will introduce new technologies and systems for managing water, preparing for drought and helping farmers adapt to climate change.

Robin Bovey, the Sudan Program Manager for the UN Environment Program, says providing water in the Sahel is difficult because there is not much of it.    He calls managing water resources a massive undertaking that cannot be done in isolation.  

"We are presently setting up drought committees in camps," said Bovey.  "There will be another drought.  I mean there will be droughts that occur again.  This is just something that happens on a cyclical basis.  But, where you have population shifts, you have to make sure that people are prepared."  

Nils Kastberg, the representative for the UN Children's Fund for Sudan, says getting access to that water requires peace.  And peace can best be achieved on the local level.

"If we put a well and that leads to different groups of people fighting over access to that water, than we are contributing to conflict," added Kastberg.  "If, instead, we can use the access to water as a way for establishing dialogue between different groups, so that through that dialogue we can provide, for instance, access to water, but at the same time get the dialogue going that is so needed, then we are constructing peace from the local level."

But, aid agencies agree these peace initiatives ultimately will lead nowhere without cooperation from the Sudanese government.  They are urging the government to provide services equally to all people in Darfur and to grant them freedom of movement so they can distribute essential relief and care.  

They believe the best prospects for peace lie with local communities, not with the Central government.  They say people are tired of fighting.  They want to trade their goods.  They want access to markets and water.  

And this, aid workers say, is prompting many communities to conclude their own peace agreements. If this process grows and spreads from village to village, they say, these local agreements could translate into a significant regional-wide peace for Darfur.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid