When Boston researchers announced the existence of an underground lake in North Darfur recently, the unexpected news brought a fresh surge of optimism that the source of water could help end the Sudanese conflict that has killed at least 200,000 people and displaced more than two million. But a French geologist today suggested that the underground reservoir, roughly the size of Lake Erie, has probably been dry for thousands of years.
Experts have long pointed to Darfur as an example of human conflict thats at least in part a result of environmental destruction and resource scarcity. Lack of water has been cited as a main reason why Arab nomads have been coming into conflict with black African farmers, with the Sudanese government largely backing the Arab janjaweed raiders.
Meanwhile, the French geologist was careful to say there is still enough water in aquifers elsewhere in the embattled country to ease the conflict over resources that is, if people can agree on a political framework for peaceful distribution. —Jeremy Hsu