Residents of Wadi Halfa locality in Sudan’s Northern State complain about an unusually high rate of cancer in the area.
“Apart from the unusual increase of cancer cases among the people in Wadi Halfa, fish are dying, and birds drop dead from the sky,” a resident from Wadi Halfa told Radio Dabanga.
He said that the government, after failing to remove the inhabitants from the locality, where the Kajbar and Dal dams are to be built, began using “another weapon”. “It allowed its gold exploration companies to use cyanide.”
“Cyanide spreads through the air, and can reach places over a distance of 150km. This has caused the large increase of cancer cases, and the pollution of the water and the air, with the result that large numbers of dead fishes are now floating on the Nile, and birds are dropping dead.”
The Sudanese government planned to transform the Nile, the only stretch of fertile land north of Khartoum, into a string of five reservoirs. The Merowe dam, built by Chinese, German and French companies on the Nile’s fourth cataract, was completed in 2009. It doubled Sudan’s electricity generation, but displaced more than 50,000 people from the Nile valley to arid desert locations. Thousands of people who refused to leave their homes were flushed out by the reservoir, and protests were violently suppressed.
”Next in line are the Kajbar and Dal dams,” Peter Bosshard, the policy director of International Rivers wrote in 2011. The Kajbar dam on the Nile’s third cataract would create a reservoir of 110 square kilometers, and generate 360 megawatts of electricity. The project would displace more than 10,000 people and submerge an estimated 500 archeological sites. The Dal Dam on the second cataract is planned to have a capacity of 340-450 megawatts. It would displace 5,000-10,000 people.
File photo: Protesters against the Kajbar Dam, January 2011 (internationalrivers.org)