Posted by: africanpressorganization | 27 June 2011

International effort launched to tackle water scarcity and conflict in Darfur



International effort launched to tackle water scarcity and conflict in Darfur


KARTHOUM, Sudan, June 27, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United Nations and the Sudan Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources today launched an appeal to reverse the rapidly declining water supply in Darfur and in doing so to tackle one of the major factors in the ongoing conflict and contribute to the foundation of a sustainable peace.

Outlining a water crisis which affects all Darfuris, but above all the most vulnerable, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, Joint Special Representative for the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur said that, “The impact of water scarcity….also will imperil our common efforts to achieve peace and stability in Darfur.”

The link between water and peace inspired the AU-UN peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) to collaborate with Sudan water officials on the two-day Darfur International Conference on Water for Sustainable Peace which opened today in Khartoum’s Friendship Hall. More than 500 water experts, Darfur and Sudanese government figures, UN and other international organizations and donors are attending the Conference, which seeks to raise $1 billion to fund a six-year series of 65 inter-related projects to develop a stable and equitable water service system for all Darfur states.

“The Government is committed to preparing an environment suitable for donors to implement these projects,” the Presidential Advisor on Darfur Ghazi Salahaldeen told participants.

Government and UN officials described a dire situation in Darfur where climate change, rapid population growth and environmental degradation led to competition for dwindling natural resources and a water crisis. That crisis in turn has contributed to the conflict. The Darfur Appeal Document, introduced today, intends to “break that vicious cycle through a development approach to the water sector,” the Ministry’s Salih Hamad Hamid said.

“We are here to transfer water from being an instrument of conflict to an instrument for sustainable peace,” said State Minister Salaheldien Yousif, of the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources.

The goal of the partners involved in the Conference is to create a new integrated framework to provide sufficient and equitable water for all users and proper management of resources “in parallel with the political process—which together will deliver lasting peace,” said UN Humanitarian Coordinator Georg Charpentier. Other UN partners involved in the effort include UNICEF, the UN Environmental Programme, UNESCO and UNDP.

A wide range of Darfur’s communities were consulted over the past year in the production of a coordinated plan by Government and UN agencies for projects that will meet the immediate needs of Darfuris affected by conflict along with projects that contribute to peacebuilding and environmental sustainability, said Dr. Hamid.

While the peace talks on Darfur which concluded recently in Doha, Qatar, did not directly address the role of natural resources in the conflict, Sudan officials today noted that the Government was committed to addressing the situation of water in Darfur in parallel with the peace process. Linking the results of Doha to the development of equitable and accessible water resources in Darfur and the return of internally displaced persons is the objective of the Conference, according to Kamal Ali, Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources. The Government has committed significant amount of funds to rebuilding the water infrastructure in Darfur and building new systems, including for displaced persons and nomads, he said.

The urgency of the water crisis has convinced international and national experts and leaders that development of the water sector cannot wait for a risk-free security situation or a comprehensive peace agreement.

“Let there be no more talk about waiting until some far off conditions or benchmarks are met, ” JSR Gambari said. “The people of Darfur cannot afford to wait any longer.”





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