|Insecurity in the three states of Darfur , Sudan , has steadily increased. Conflict-affected populations (3.2 million people in August 2005) describe recurrent and systematic attacks against towns and villages, burning of buildings and crops, arbitrary killings, gang rape, and looting. In 2005, DASP detailer Scott Hocklander (BLM/Alaska) and DASP employee Gary Barrett each served for two months as DART Field Officers. They coordinated the distribution of relief supplies with non-governmental agencies and helped with agricultural assessments of the market for crops and livestock, including a forecast of cereal shortages in the local markets.
The DART was supported by a Washington-based RMT. Six DASP detailers served seven consecutive assignments as the team’s Communications and Records Coordinator, providing almost total coverage for that position throughout the year.
In August, 2004, assessments by Field Officer Gary Barrett reported that road access to many of the major areas around West Darfur was a growing problem, with many roads closed due to seasonal flooding. Four major wadi crossings were identified as significant bottlenecks for access to vulnerable populations, impeding the distribution of critically needed relief supplies and services. At the DART’s request, the DASP team in Washington investigated options for temporary bridging, including pontoon bridges and Bailey bridges. The DASP also identified a Forest Service road and bridge engineer, Merv Erikkson, who traveled to Darfur in late September and early October 2004 to assess specific on-site requirements for bridging.
While in Darfur , the engineer traveled the 106 km stretch of road from Geniena to Sarif Umra, crossing nine wadis varying in width from 10 to 65 meters. He also traveled from Geniena to Zalinji, assessing the major crossing at Wadi Azoum, and several smaller wadi crossings. Erikkson made recommendations for improving the stability of the wadi bottoms, soft spots and loose sand. Recommendations ranged from gabion baskets and rock, concrete, a rock-filled geocell product and/or rock in combination with a geotec fabric. Erikkson also coordinated with the World Food Program and other partners, tracking down sophisticated mapping products that were unavailable to the DART before his visit. This alone was a major benefit to OFDA’s field team. Though no follow-on programs resulted from Erikkson’s trip, his recommendations and coordination with partners helped the DART to better plan and implement transportation strategies for the following rainy season in Darfur .