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World How the Nile dam might fix Sudan's floods

04:15  01 november  2020
04:15  01 november  2020 Source:   bbc.com

Israel delegation visited Sudan in push to normalise ties

  Israel delegation visited Sudan in push to normalise ties An Israeli delegation has visited Sudan to discuss normalising relations following the Jewish state's US-brokered deals with UAE and Bahrain, sources in Khartoum and Jerusalem said Thursday. Israeli sources requesting anonymity had earlier told AFP that an Israeli delegation had travelled to Sudan on Wednesday to discuss the same issue. The same day, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he hoped Sudan would "quickly" recognise Israel.That call came after Trump had pledged Monday to take Sudan soon off the US state sponsors of terrorism blacklist, a legacy of the era of fallen dictator Omar al-Bashir.

Unprecedented flooding in Sudan this year led to the deaths of more than 100 people and affected 875,000 others. Ethiopia started building the dam in its northern highlands, from where 85% of the Nile ' s waters flow, in 2011 and this year the reservoir behind the dam started to fill.

The leaders of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan signed the agreement in Sudan ' s capital, Khartoum. Egypt has opposed the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam , saying it would worsen its water shortages. Ethiopia says the dam will give it a fairer share of Nile waters.

In our series of letters from African journalists, Zeinab Mohammed Salih looks at what Sudan makes of Ethiopia's controversial Nile dam.

a group of people in the water: This year the River Nile in Sudan recorded its highest level in living memory © Getty Images This year the River Nile in Sudan recorded its highest level in living memory

Unprecedented flooding in Sudan this year led to the deaths of more than 100 people and affected 875,000 others.

Entire residential neighbourhoods were destroyed while power and water supplies were disrupted when the River Nile recorded its highest level in living memory.

Some experts said that if the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, upstream on the Blue Nile tributary, had been fully operational, the effect on Sudan would have been less disastrous.

The US just brokered another peace deal for Israel, this time with Sudan

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The authorities in Sudan are trying to protect the country' s ancient pyramids from flooding as heavy rains have caused the nearby River Nile to reach record-breaking levels. They have built sandbag walls and are pumping out water, archaeologist Marc Maillot is quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.

The Voice of America reported that heavy rainfall and floods in the country destroyed homes, the Bout Dam and left five people dead in Sudan ’ s Blue Nile province. Nusaiba Farouk Kalol, a Sudanese official told AP that the heavy rainfall caused the collapse of the Bout Dam , stating that at least 600

Ethiopia started building the dam in its northern highlands, from where 85% of the Nile's waters flow, in 2011 and this year the reservoir behind the dam started to fill. When it is fully operation in several years' time it will become Africa's largest hydroelectric plant.

But it has been fraught with controversy as Egypt, which is downstream, fears the $4bn (£3bn) dam will greatly reduce its access to water.

Negotiations, which have not reached a deal, are centred on how fast to fill the dam - and Sudan has been stuck in the middle.

text © Provided by BBC News

Salman Mohamed, a Sudanese expert on international water law and policy, says Egypt's Aswan dam shows how flood waters can be regulated effectively on The Nile.

"We lost people, and properties of billions of pounds, but look at Egypt - they haven't lost a single seedling because they normally keep the flood water in their high dam and we don't have one like that, so the Ethiopian dam could have saved all that," he said.

Trump comment on 'blowing up' dam angers Ethiopia

  Trump comment on 'blowing up' dam angers Ethiopia Its PM condemns "aggressions" after Donald Trump says Egypt might destroy a controversial Nile dam. © Reuters The dam will be the biggest hydro-electric project in Africa The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is at the centre of a long-running dispute involving Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan. Mr Trump said Egypt would not be able to live with the dam and might "blow up" the construction. Ethiopia sees the US as siding with Egypt in the dispute.The US announced in September that it would cut some aid to Ethiopia after it began filling the reservoir behind the dam in July.

of homes in Sudan ' s Blue Nile province and left five people dead across the country, authorities At least 600 families remained stranded amid flooding caused by both the rainfall and the collapse of the dam , she The floods left five people dead; four from the collapsing houses while the fifth drowned

Floods and heavy rain in Sudan have killed 76 people and destroyed thousands of homes in recent days, the interior minister said on Thursday. Ismat Abdelrahman said 13 of Sudan ' s 18 provinces had been affected by flooding . The Nile is at its highest levels in more than a century, swollen by heavy

Sudan does have eight dams on The Nile.

"But our dams are too small," says Dr Mohamed, who is a fellow at the International Water Resources Association.

"Egypt has managed to use the flood water it collected for its agricultural projects in the desert."

Safety concerns

During fraught talks over the filling of the dam and how much water it should release - which recently restarted under the auspices of the African Union - Sudan has tended to side with Egypt.

This stance was adopted under the government of former President Omar al-Bashir - and the generals who remain part of the transitional government now ruling Sudan after the 2019 coup are strong allies of Egypt.

Sudan's negotiator under Bashir, Ahmed El-Mufti, had also raised concerns about safety and security of the dam.

He said that if it was destroyed, it could damage the entire region, including Sudan's capital, Khartoum - where the White and Blue Nile meet.

Sudanese split over normalising relations with Israel

  Sudanese split over normalising relations with Israel Sudan's move to normalise relations with Israel has laid bare deep splits within society, with some bashing the deal as betrayal and others as a way to rescue the devastated economy. The move -- announced Friday -- came shortly after US President Donald Trump declared that Washington was formally moving to delist Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, a designation that strangled Khartoum's economy for decades. But the announcement revealed divisions between political forces in Sudan, currently undergoing a rocky transition since the April 2019 ouster of strongman Omar al-Bashir following mass protests against his three-decade rule.

The authorities in Sudan are trying to protect the country' s ancient pyramids from flooding as heavy rains have caused the nearby River Nile to reach record-breaking levels. They have built sandbag walls and are pumping out water, archaeologist Marc Maillot is quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.

A colossal hydroelectric dam being built on the Nile 2,000 miles upriver, in the lowlands of Ethiopia, threatens to further constrict Egypt justified its dominance over the river by citing a colonial-era water treaty and a 1959 agreement with Sudan . But Ethiopia does not recognize them, and when its former

More on the mega dam:

  • How Trump 'betrayed' Ethiopia over Nile dam
  • Ethiopia's pop stars hit out over Nile dam row
  • Egypt fumes as Ethiopia celebrates over Nile dam
  • How the Nile's mega dam will be filled

In fact Sudanese officials are walking a tight rope to avoid any conflict.

This was not helped last week when US President Donald Trump said - whilst on a joint phone call to the Sudanese and Israeli prime ministers about the restoration of their countries' relations - that Egypt might "blow up" the dam.

Asmaa Abdallah, Sudan's transitional foreign minister until July, has always maintained dialogue is the only solution.

Sudan wants to have a peaceful resolution as it can see the benefits of the mega dam - not only in terms of regulating flood water, which is often a problem.

'Source of African pride'

According to Dr Mohamed, it will also enable Sudan's own dams to generate more electricity as well as buying cheap and clean electricity from Ethiopia.

He says it will also allow for three growing seasons - at the moment crops are harvested around October or November - but if the flow is regulated, farmers will be able to plant and irrigate more often.

Nile dam dispute: Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt set to resume talks

  Nile dam dispute: Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt set to resume talks Ministers from the three countries to hold videoconference brokered by the African Union on Tuesday, Khartoum says.Foreign and irrigation ministers from the three countries are to hold a videoconference brokered by the African Union (AU), the Sudanese irrigation ministry said on Monday, three months after the suspension of dialogue between the neighbouring countries over the construction of the $4.6bn mega-dam by Ethiopia.

Sudan ' s government said it had allocated more than 150 million Sudanese pounds (.73 million) to help flood victims, the state news agency said. The floods have left at least 102 people dead in the country and destroyed or damaged tens of thousands of homes, according to the interior ministry.

Sudan ' s government has warned Khartoum residents living along the Blue Nile of massive floods in the coming days. This is after water levels of the river

a man that is standing in the dirt: The dam will allow farmers to work more profitably © AFP The dam will allow farmers to work more profitably

In years of drought, when usually there is very little water - the dam would ensure a supply.

As it is Sudan only uses about 12 billion cubic metres or 64% of the water it is entitled to annually under the 1959 treaty signed with Egypt over sharing the resources of the Nile, says Dr Mohamed.

Given that the UN says about 10 million people in Sudan are facing food shortages this year - partly caused by coronavirus lockdown measures - he can only see the long-term benefits of the mega dam project.

Explore the Nile with 360 video

Alastair Leithead and his team travelled in 2018 from the Blue Nile's source to the sea - through Ethiopia and Sudan into Egypt.

Opinion on the streets in and around the capital tends to be more in sympathy with Ethiopia.

"We support them because we share sentiments towards the Ethiopian people," said Salah Hassan, a 44-year-old father of one whose home in Omdurman, Khartoum's twin city, was partly damaged in the floods.

Mohamed Ali, a 37 year old living in Khartoum North, sees it as a source of African pride - and a job opportunity for many.

"There are millions of Ethiopians residing in Sudan now, but I think after the dam will be built they will go back to their country along with many Sudanese people to work there," he says.

Sudanese in Israel fear being returned after normalisation

  Sudanese in Israel fear being returned after normalisation Sudanese asylum seekers living in Israel fear being kicked out once ties are normalised between the two countries, though some hope their presence will be seen as an advantage. Israel counts a Sudanese population of around 6,000, mostly asylum seekers. Thousands of others left or were forced to return after Sudan split in 2011 when South Sudan won its independence -- only for the fledgling country to plunge into civil war.Some of the Sudanese -- often labelled as "infiltrators" for crossing illegally into Israeli territory before being granted permission to stay -- were minors when they arrived.

"I support the dam 100% as any project that benefits the African people will be great.

"People in the Horn of Africa suffered a lot and they need to have such big developmental projects."

But until the dispute is settled over how Ethiopia's dam is regulated, it remains unsettling and worrying for those living and farming along the world's longest river.

a close up of a map © BBC

More Letters from Africa:

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  • 'I was jailed for a month after exposing corruption'
  • Nigeria's 60-year struggle for unity
  • How an orphaned migrant found a new family in Italy
  • Behind Ghana and Nigeria's love-hate affair
  • Does Kenya have one of the world's best constitutions?

Follow us on Twitter @BBCAfrica, on Facebook at BBC Africa or on Instagram at bbcafrica

a person holding a sign © BBC

Nile dam talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan fail again .
The three African nations say they failed to agree on new approach to resolve dispute over Ethiopia’s mega-dam project.In late October, the three African nations resumed virtual talks over the filling and operation of the $4bn Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD) project, which broke ground in 2011.

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