Hello, Today, I’d like to update you about a recent project Spirit of America funded in response to local needs identified by a US Civil Affairs team in Chad. The project provided a much-needed pump to repair the water system in Bardai, a desert oasis town in northern Chad. projects page. Thank you, Chris VanJohnson Africa Project ManagerThe town of Bardai is in the tri-border area of Chad near the borders of both Libya and Niger. With a civil war raging in Libya, ISIS gaining territory in North Africa, and increasing illicit flows of people, weapons, and resources through the region, the area has become increasingly important. The Toubou people that live here are particularly vulnerable to violent extremists, as they are under-served by their government, live on the fringe of society, and have a history of rebellion and secessionism. For these reasons, not to mention its place as the largest population center in the region, Bardai is particularly important to Chadian and American counter-extremism efforts. The town of Bardai had been without running water for months when the team first heard of this problem. With their Chadian military counterparts, the Special Anti-Terrorist Group (SATG), the US team travelled to Bardai to donate a new pump and repair the water system for the town. This was in direct response to what the town’s mayor listed as the top priority in his town. It restored water service to the 1500 residents of the town. The immediate benefits of this project are obvious, as running water will improve the health and quality of life for the town’s residence. However, this simple water pump will also have significant effects on local security. Extremist groups operating in the region had been exploiting the area’s poverty, lack of Chadian government resources, and limited international attention to recruit and gain support from the local population. A public donation ceremony with a joint Chadian-American team, hosted by the town’s mayor, directly contradicted the extremist narrative. While in Bardai, the team was able to meet with local leaders and citizens. These meetings provided further insight into the cultural, ethnic, and security dynamics in the region and allowed the US and Chadian military teams to hear the concerns and grievances of the population for themselves. This sets the stage for future cooperation and improved relationships with Toubou people. The mayor expressed his profound appreciation for the donation and his excitement about working with the US military more in the future to secure and improve his community. Your ongoing generosity helps teams like this, around the world, solve local problems and enable their local partners. To support this effort or see where else you can help, please visit our
Chris is a US Army veteran having served as an Armor officer with a deployment to Baghdad in 2008-09 and then as a Special Operations Civil Affairs Officer with multiple deployments to Nepal in 2011-12.