Visit to Darfur

Posted by Scott Gration
July 26, 2010
Envoys and Sudanese Leadership Meet Under a Tree in Darfur

About the Author: Major General (Ret) Scott Gration serves as the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan.

Greetings from Kampala, Uganda, where I am attending the African Union Summit. I just completed a trip to Sudan, including stops in Khartoum, Darfur and Juba for meetings with the AU/UN, the CPA parties, and various experts on education, environment, and agro-pastoral issues in Darfur.

In El Fasher, I continued my conversations on these themes with UNAMID officials, local government officials, civil society leaders, other UN agencies, and NGOs. I have also used these meetings to underscore the absolute necessity of improving civilian protection and security in Darfur before large-scale development can take place.

Security was a key element of my conversations with the North Darfur police commissioner, attorney general, and head of corrections. I also met with the State Committee on Combating Violence Against Women and Children and a Family and Child Protection Unit within the Sudanese police. I saw positive steps being taken, but much work remains to be done.

In my meetings with UNAMID officials, we discussed the recent deterioration in security conditions. UNAMID highlighted that much of this deterioration is due to increased intertribal fighting in addition to combat operations. It is clear that the underlying drivers of conflict in Darfur, including environmental degradation and disputes over land and water resources, continue to contribute to Darfur's security problems.

My conversations with civil society leaders and government officials also reaffirmed the importance of livelihoods and alternative income generating opportunities in reducing criminality and banditry, which have been a growing problem inside and outside IDP camps during the past several months. It is essential the international community account more comprehensively for the unique livelihoods of both sedentary and nomadic populations as we develop urban and rural early recovery strategies.

I visited a government-run tree nursery that grows 90-95 percent of North Darfur's tree seedlings as well as a small-scale private tree nursery where a former teacher has started her own business. I also visited a technical school, observed a demonstration of sustainable brick making, and met with officials from the state-level Ministries of Agriculture and Education.

Later, I returned to Abu Shouk IDP camp to visit a school and distribute solar cookers at a women's center. I also spent time in a village where NGOs are implementing projects to support a community forest, goat restocking, para-veterinarians and animal midwives, terracing techniques, and water reservoir management.

Tomorrow, I will travel on to Doha for meetings with the Darfur mediation team and negotiating parties. A fully implemented ceasefire and comprehensive negotiated political settlement remain key to sustainable peace in the region.



Nell O.
Connecticut, USA
July 26, 2010

Nell O. in Connecticut writes:

@ Envoy Gration,

What is being done to provide Darfuris, without, access to clean water? Will Khartoum allow us to PUR packets?

Thank you,

Clean Water. Now!

By John Casey | Sunday, March 22, 2009 2:00 PM ET

Note: This article originally appeared on Tonic on March 3. With March 22 marking World Water Day, we wanted to call attention to the lack of access to clean water for many of the world's people. As this article shows, technology to clean water is available today.

The person who coined the phrase, "Good things come in small packages," probably had diamonds or dark chocolate in mind. But these words of wisdom apply equally well to PUR, an inexpensive powder that combines all the cleaning capabilities of a modern water-treatment plant into a tiny packet that is saving lives globally.

pur water packets "Many people drink from rivers, streams and ponds in the developing world," says Greg Allgood, PhD, director of the Children's Safe Drinking Water program at Procter & Gamble (P&G), who leads the the group of scientists that developed PUR. "Four thousand children die every day from cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery, and other water-borne disease, which is more than die from HIV/AIDS and malaria combined."

What's in that stuff?

PUR packets, which took years and the efforts of many scientists to develop, contain a coagulant -- iron sulfate -- that removes the dirt, worms, parasites and pollutants, like arsenic. A disinfectant -- chlorine -- kills the bacteria and viruses. All the ingredients in PUR are used in municipal water treatment plants.

"Essentially it's a mini-water treatment plant in a packet," said Allgood. "PUR treated water is essentially the same as tap water. The main use of the PUR packets is in the developing world, but it's available in the United States for emergency preparedness and outdoor recreation. All proceeds from U.S. sales are donated to the CSDW."

It's simple and inexpensive, too. The user stirs one packet into 10 liters of contaminated water. In 30 minutes, the result is 10 liters of crystal clear drinking water, a cost of a few pennies per liter.

The product removes dirt, cysts and pollutants, such as arsenic, and kills bacteria and viruses. By removing impurities and sediment, PUR gives a visible signal that water is clean and ready to drink.

The transformation of dirty water to clean is amazing to watch. The CSDW website has a delightful video of Allgood himself showing a group of children how to use PUR. One child, on seeing the 10 liters of muddy brown water in a huge glass beaker, asks if it is chocolate water. At the end of the demonstration, they all have safe and clear water, ready to drink.

3.5 billion liters served

Allgood's powder was developed through a partnership between Procter & Gamble (P&G) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Dr. Greg Allgood"The purpose of our Children's Safe Drinking Water Program is to prevent these needless deaths," Allgood said. "In the developing world, because of the P&G subsidy, we provide 50 days of purified water for every $1 donated."

And PUR has proven itself in some of the harshest conditions imaginable, including during the Southeast Asia tsunami, the Pakistan and Indonesian earthquakes, cholera outbreaks in Zimbabwe, and floods in India, Bangladesh, Haiti, Kenya and Ethiopia.

To date, the CSDW and P&G has given or sold at cost more than 130 million PUR packets, which is enough to treat 1.3 billion liters of water. And the groups have even bigger goals. They hope to distribute enough PUR to make 3.5 billion liters by 2012.

"The U.S. launch is exciting because people will now be able to see and understand the way PUR Purifier of Water turns dirty water into clear and purified water," said Allgood. "The U.S. effort will help fund our philanthropic efforts by providing two liters of water in the developing world for every package purchased in the United States."

July 27, 2010

Gazzan writes:

Following the troubled Darfur Peace Agreement in 2006, the UN-African Union envoys to Darfur have been working to reinvigorate the peace process. The challenges facing this process were highlighted in November 2007 when a boycott by numerous rebel factions forced the abandonment of talks in Libya after only two days. With deep divisions amongst the rebels, fierce fighting in western Darfur and the prospect of a 'proxy war' between Chad and Sudan, some commentators are asking 'where to now?' for the Darfur mediation.
This seminar will bring together experts on the region, including diplomats directly involved in the process, to give their thoughts on the way forward for the Darfur mediation.

Khalid A.
United Kingdom
July 29, 2010

Khalid A.M. in the United Kingdom writes:

This is what I call a"holistic approach" which considers the roots of the crisis and does not neglect any practical aspect that can lead to a settlement.General(ret)Scott Gration does his homework well before talking about Doha . He sees desertification , visits a tree nursery and is aware of banditry as well as combat operations;visits camps and speaks to UN and goverment officials.He understands the role of civil society and its potential as well as the help people need in order to help themselves .It is surprising(to say the least) that some armchair spoilers whose knowledge of Darfur is not comparable to Gration's describe this approach as "wrog" and claim to know the way to "fix" it!Some of them were against the C.P.Agreement when it was signed.

Chad G.
Florida, USA
September 14, 2010

Chad G. in Florida writes:

I feel so bad for the people in Darfur that have to live in that torture everyday. There's this new film coming out called Attack on Darfur that is apparently a pretty accurate represenation of what's actually going there. It's brutal.


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