Will Ancient Mega Lake Bring Peace to Sudan?

darfur mega lake sudan

Can mega well bring peace to Sudan?

At least 300,000 people died and almost three million were displaced by the Darfur conflict in Sudan. Egyptian-American geologist Farouk El-Baz believes that limited access to water is one of the root causes of this conflict. Doctor El-Baz is director of Boston University’s center for remote sensing. He is known for his use of satellite images to search for water in the Mideast and North Africa. His work led to the discovery of a large underground water source in Egypt’s East Uweinat region near the borders with Libya, Chad and Sudan. This Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System (NSAS) contains over five million cubic feet of groundwater and is already bringing life and prosperity to a desolate part of the Eastern Sahara.

el baz mega lake waterIn 2007, Dr. El-Baz (left) used satellite-based ground penetrating radar to discover an ancient lake in the northern Darfur region of Sudan. At over 19,000 square miles this “Northern Darfur Mega-Lake” is vast– approximately the size of Lake Erie in North America.

Some time in recent geological history the lake slipped hundreds of meters beneath the desert sands and vanished from sight. Doctor El-Baz believes this underground lake can help restore peace to the Sudanese people so he proposed a 1000 wells project for Darfur.

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The discovery of this lake brings hope, but Sudan’s complex problems will not disappear overnight. El Baz says it took more than a decade to convince the Egyptian government to dig wells in the NSAS region. It will take time to access this newly discovered water beneath Darfur.

It is also true that unequal access to natural resources can fuel conflict. How will Sudan assure that access to this life-giving resource is shared fairly amongst the people who need it? The Nile waters agreement provides a template for a legalistic solution but what are practicalities of pumping this deep water and distributing it across such a large region? Hugon Kowalski of UGO Architecture & Design proposed an award-winning solution in the form of water tower skyscrapers. These multi-use buildings were inspired by baobab trees and would host a water-cooled hospital, school and offices along with the water pumps and treatment plant.

Mr. Kowalski’s dreams are large and bold as they must be for such forward- thinking designers. It is important to refine such ideas to best meet regional needs and to carefully consider the impact of mining fossil water in this part of the world. But the people of Sudan may not have the luxury of time to wait for a perfect solution.

About Brian Nitz

Brian remembers when a single tear dredged up a nation's guilt. The tear belonged to an Italian-American actor known as Iron-Eyes Cody, the guilt was displaced from centuries of Native American mistreatment and redirected into a new environmental awareness. A 10-year-old Brian wondered, 'What are they... No, what are we doing to this country?'From a family of engineers, farmers and tinkerers Brian's father was a physics teacher. He remembers the day his father drove up to watch a coal power plant's new scrubbers turn smoke from dirty grey-back to steamy white. Surely technology would solve every problem. But then he noticed that breathing was difficult when the wind blew a certain way. While sailing, he often saw a yellow-brown line on the horizon. The stars were beginning to disappear. Gas mileage peaked when Reagan was still president. Solar panels installed in the 1970s were torn from roofs as they were no longer cost-effective to maintain. Racism, public policy and low oil prices transformed suburban life and cities began to sprawl out and absorb farmland. Brian only began to understand the root causes of "doughnut cities" when he moved to Ireland in 2001 and watched history repeat itself.Brian doesn't think environmentalism is 'rocket science', but understanding how to apply it within a society requires wisdom and education. In his travels through Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East, Brian has learned that great ideas come from everywhere and that sharing mistakes is just as important as sharing ideas.

3 thoughts on “Will Ancient Mega Lake Bring Peace to Sudan?

  1. Just a Person

    As long as there is no oil then there could be some peace. If there is any oil then dont tell any one. Other wise the Oil inspector (USA)will find a way to take it away from you.

    Reply

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