The recent discovery of a vast underground lake
in Darfur has prompted hope for a resolution to the region’s terrible conflict, which is partially rooted in tensions over scarce resources—particularly water. Yet the lake is not a silver bullet. First of all, there may not be any water in it. Alain Gachet, a French geologist who has studied mineral and water exploration in Africa for 20 years, told BBC News that he thinks the lake is probably dry
In addition, as The New York Times
astutely observed, it is the way in which natural resources are managed—not simply their scarcity or abundance—that determines whether they further peace or conflict
. Time and again, inexpert or corrupt management of plentiful natural resources has plunged nations into violence and poverty
, rather than granted them prosperity. In Africa, this “resource curse” has been a regrettably common phenomenon.
released by the UN Environment Programme last month and an opinion piece by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
also highlighted how environmental factors have contributed to the crisis