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More calls for anti-dam protests in Sudan

February 9 - 2016 AMRI
Cooking area for Amri school, set up by Merowe dam refugees after they were flooded out. The Merowe Dam that was built on the Nile’s fourth cataract between 2003 and 2009 (year unknown, International Rivers)
Cooking area for Amri school, set up by Merowe dam refugees after they were flooded out. The Merowe Dam that was built on the Nile’s fourth cataract between 2003 and 2009 (year unknown, International Rivers)

The committee that opposes the building of the Dal dam at the Nile river has called on the people in Northern State, those who may be affected by the dams, and all Sudanese to unite and oppose the construction plans.

Adel Abdelaziz, the chairman of the committee, told Radio Dabanga that the dam issues concern all Sudanese, “making it imperative for all Sudanese to unite against the plans”.

The government agreed to construct the Kajbar, Dal, and El Shireik dams at cataracts of the Nile in northern Sudan after passing a framework agreement with Saudi Arabia on 19 January, which has committed to inject millions for the construction. 

“The loans and billions [of pounds] used for building the dams are direly needed in El Gezira scheme, Amri project, or other projects in Sudan that need the money,” Abdelaziz said. “My message to the Sudanese people is that we are not against development, but the money should be directed to its rightful place.

“There are alternative energy sources in Sudan, such as solar and wind power, that can be resorted to, instead of flooding archaeological sites. These belong to all the Sudanese people.”

The planned Kajbar Dam on the River Nile’s third cataract will create a reservoir of 110 square km, and generate 360 megawatts of electricity. International Rivers, a U.S.-based NGO, says that the project will displace more than 10,000 people, and submerge an estimated 500 archaeological sites. The Dal Dam on the second cataract would have a capacity of 340-450 megawatts, and may displace at least 5,000 people.

Protests

The Sudanese government has responded harshly to protests against the Kajbar and Dal Dams. In 2007, security forces killed four, and injured at least 20 people protesting peacefully against the construction of the Kajbar Dam. The last months witnessed several protests in Northern State and Khartoum city. Most were ended by security forces.

“As in the case of the Merowe Dam, no adequate replacement land has been identified for the numerous people who would be displaced by these dams,” International Rivers wrote in a letter to the Saudi Arabia Excellency on 16 November 2015, calling on the government not to go forward with their financial support.

“As with the Merowe Dam, the local populations have never been consulted and are strongly opposed to the projects. Again as with Merowe, the dams would submerge invaluable archeological treasures, which form a crucial part of the legacy and identity of the Nubian people.”

The Merowe Dam, also known as the Hamadab Dam, was officially launched in 2010. It doubled Sudan’s electricity generation capacity but displaced more than 50,000 people from the Nile Valley to arid desert locations, International Rivers reported.

More than 60 percent of Sudan’s electricity –about 1,250 megawatts– is generated by the Merowe Dam, 350 kilometres north of Khartoum. Two thermal power plants in Khartoum and one in White Nile state produce an additional 800 megawatts.


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