Dubai: The International Desalination Association (IDA) is going to dig the first water well in Darfur in the name of renowned scientist Dr Farouk Al Baz, in support of his 1,001 Wells for Darfur initiative, it was announced this week in Dubai.
Dr Al Baz, director of the Centre for Remote Sensing at Boston University and senior adviser of Techno Park, was awarded the World Water Masters award by the IDA during the association’s world congress.
Since 1986, Al Baz — with help from the Boston University Centre for Remote Sensing — has performed extensive research in the desert in southwestern Egypt.
His research resulted in the location of groundwater in a barren desert where today more than 500 wells produce water for planting wheat, chickpeas, peanuts and other crops.
His research was extended to the neighbouring region of northern Sudan where the highest levels of a dry lake that filled a depression in North Darfur during past geological times, was mapped.
“We found a location of a former lake in Darfur near an area where people live called Jebel Mara. The lake is replenished by rain for two months in the summer. This could help resolve the water and humanitarian crisis between sedentary farmers and nomads. Wells are needed all over the place,” Al Baz told Gulf News.
The Sudanese government has approved the initiative and the United Nations is supporting it. The UN interest lies in providing safe water for both the sedentary farmers and nomadic population in the conflict in Darfur and in the selection of well sites for use by the Peacekeeping Force.
The UN has proposed playing an active role by adopting a short-term activity to drill 1,001 wells in strategic locations.
“The IDA will finance one well which is 200 feet deep and costs around $10,000 [Dh36,700].
“Anyone who donates money to dig a well will have it named after them and the IDA have decided to name it after me,” said Al Baz. The well will be able to satisfy the water needs of a village of 5,000 people.
“The quality is very good as [the underground lake] is replenished every year,” he added