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Grades 6-8
Students may have heard about the crisis in Sudan on the news; this lesson offers them both background and current information (as of August 2004) about the situation there. The lesson covers the current conflict between the people of Darfur and the Janjaweed militia, its impact on the people of Darfur and neighboring countries, and the international response . The lesson can be used in conjunction with math lessons on charting percentages.
Connections to the Curriculum:
Geography, current events, history, computer skills, mathematics
Connections to the National Geography Standards:
Standard 1: "How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective"
Standard 3: "How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on Earth's surface"
Standard 4: "The physical and human characteristics of places"
Standard 5: "That people create regions to interpret Earth's complexity"
Standard 10: "The characteristics, distribution, and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics"
Standard 12: "The processes, patterns, and functions of human settlement"
Two to three hours

Materials Required:
Students will
  • place Chad and Darfur, in the country of Sudan, on a map of Africa;
  • describe the crisis in Darfur and its humanitarian impact in displacement, illness, and death;
  • identify and give a brief history of the Janjaweed; and
  • state the impact of the crisis on the people of Darfur in numbers.
Geographic Skills:
Asking Geographic Questions
Acquiring Geographic Information
Organizing Geographic Information
Answering Geographic Questions
Analyzing Geographic Information

S u g g e s t e d   P r o c e d u r e
After reviewing the articles to be used here, introduce or review difficult or unfamiliar words in language or spelling classes prior to beginning this lesson. For example, colloquialism, refugee, nomad, and desertification. Then, several days before this lesson begins, ask students to look for newspaper and magazine articles about the current crisis in Darfur, and bring them to class. Mount these on colored construction paper on a bulletin board, ready for the first day of the lesson. Introduce the lesson by asking students to share with one another what they know about the crisis, and their reactions to it.
Activity 1:
Tell the students about the organization CARE . As a class, read the article about Sudan , and ask them to discuss why the United Nations has called Darfur "one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world." Ask students whom the article indicates is responsible for the crisis in Darfur. Depending on the students' reading level and computer skills, either share this about the Janjaweed with them, or have them find and read it online, and then discuss it together in class.

Activity 2:
Again, depending on the students' reading level and computer skills, either share the following articles with them or have them find and read them, and then discuss them together in groups or as a class:

International Crisis Group: Crisis in Darfur
Mercy Corps: Responding to Crisis in Darfur, Sudan
United Nations Foundation: West Sudan Displaced Population Faces Illness, Water Shortage
USAID: Darfur Humanitarian Emergency
The Washington Times: U.N.—Darfur, Chad Conditions 'Grave'

What did students learn from these articles? What else would they like to know?

Activity 3:
Have students read Mercy Corps: Responding to Crisis in Darfur, Sudan article (provide a copy for each student). Using data from the article, have each student make a graph showing

  • the percentage of displaced Sudanese who lack food;
  • the percentage who lack shelter;
  • the percentage who lack water; and
  • the percentage who lack adequate sanitation.

Ask students to discuss what more the world could do to help the people of Darfur.
Suggested Student Assessment:
Ask students to discuss, first in small groups and then as a class, what they personally could do to help. If they have difficulty with this, suggest that they review the CARE and Mercy Corps sites.
Extending the Lesson:
Have students research the activities of international aid organizations such as CARE, Doctors Without Borders, and Mercy Corps in countries other than Sudan.
Related Links: