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The drilling rig in East Jebel Marra, South Darfur, Sudan

Several years ago, due to intensifying conflict, IAS was forced to make a hasty exit from the East Jebel Marra region of South Darfur in western Sudan. Sadly there was no time to move our drilling rig and compressor so they remained in the village of Deribat where since that time the community protected it from being stolen and/or vandalized. Over the years as the region changed hands a few times between government and “rebel” forces we heard rumors that the rig was available, but nothing ever came of them.

Then recently we received a surprise phone call from the Nyala government authority saying that it was possible to retrieve our drilling rig. So our Nyala Project Coordinator was instructed to investigate more, but again nothing became of it. Then I received another call from the same man who said he was in Khartoum on official business along with the East Jebel Marra Commissioner, and about 15 representatives, including Umda’s and Sheiks from the region. He asked if they could all visit our office one late Friday night! So our Program Support Manager and I did our best to demonstrate proper Sudanese hospitality, and we listened one by one to their pleas for IAS to return to East Jebel Marra to resume our WASH provision in order to save their communities.

They recalled our old relationship and they trusted IAS and appreciated all the labor of love we had shown to them in earlier years. They explained that that is why they protected our equipment all these years. Because this region has been neglected for so long, we agreed to send a survey team, including our skilled mechanic, as soon as we received government permission. So in early January of 2016 our team finally visited our long-lost rig, having to travel the last 15K via donkeys. The team reported the rig needed only minor repairs and can easily be put to work again! We are now awaiting the repair parts and are hoping to start work as soon as possible.

The Commissioner reported that at least 68 new boreholes needed drilling immediately!