Underground Lake in Darfur: Fertile Ground for Cooperation or Conflict?July 26, 2007 By Rachel WeisshaarThe 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.
A report 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 in Darfur.
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