Last night my final Tweet was Sudan: Water Shortage After Agencies' ‘Removal’ From W. Darfur Camps. What immediately came to my mind was the long-proposed (going on six years) 1000 Wells for Darfur project, about which I had posted (semi-optimistically) on 1 January 2012. I thought perhaps that one of the agencies might be involved with the aformentioned project but the story gave few details. But the story prompted me to investigate what was happening with the Darfur well project. Before my 1 January post, my last post (4 September 2011) had been critical and pessimistic.
I returned to my 1 January 2012 post and once again read the 31 December 2011 email from Dr. Farouk El-Baz, the original proposer of the project:
There is still fighting in Darfur, but hopefully that will end soon after the death of the rebel leader Ibrahim.
In the meantime there are several efforts continuing, including student volunteers who are collecting funds for a well in the name of their institution. Boston Univ. students collected $7,300 of the $10,000 needed for one.
The effort will be initiated as soon as the Doha peace agreement is fully accepted.
Okay - since there are now aid agencies in Darfur maybe 1001 Wells is finally doing something there.
Thinking that things might be improving, I went to the '1001 Wells For Darfur' site and El-Baz's blog that I had listed in my 4 September 2011. Both were unavailable - neither Safari nor IE could find them. I was just about to proclaim the project 'R.I.P.' when I Googled and found a WWW site for 1001 Wells for Darfur and a Facebook page. Both seem oriented towards the BU students' efforts to raise $10,000 for a single well (that is why it is now '1001' instead of the original '1000' wells). It should be noted that they have been trying to raise $10,000 for several years. They had $7,300 in December 2011; still $2,700 short after a year? They have had fundraisers in November 2012 and last month so maybe they broke the barrier. But click on 'Donations' and it shows $1,230 raised towards a goal of $2,000. WTF?
I find it amusing that on the WWW site, beneath the title, it says, 'A simple solution to a serious problem'. Simple? Oh, really? Got that sustainability plan done? Get out very often, folks?
I applaud the students' efforts, but one well is not going to do much for the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, which has fallen off the radar. There is no new information either the WWW site or the Facebook page about the larger project - the original '1000 Wells'. What information is there is the SOS and is a more homage to Dr. El-Baz than anything else.
My assessment of 1001 Wells for Darfur: Great PR for Dr. Farouk El-Baz, nothing substantive for Darfur.
“The Governor of Northern Darfur, Osman Kebir, told me that news of the lake discovery brought smiles to the faces of the people in Darfur, and much needed hope to us all.” - Farouk El-Baz