Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Fifty years on, the Nile dam that modified the face of Egypt

The world was flooded not less than a 3rd of the yr; the villagers would erect mud obstacles to stop waters from reaching their properties. Then got here the dam, which formally opened after greater than a decade of building on January 15, 1971.

Constructed within the 1950s and 1960s underneath the nation’s chief, the charismatic Gamal Abdel-Nasser, the Soviet Union helped in its building after the USA and Britain withdrew monetary assist.

Their withdrawal was a think about Nasser’s subsequent determination to nationalize the Suez Canal, taking it from British and French corporations. He deliberate to make use of canal revenues to finance the dam. Egyptians hailed it because the second when their nation lastly threw off many years of imperialist management, and Nasser was referred to as a patriot.

The transfer angered France and Britain. They, together with Israel, invaded and briefly took the canal within the 1956 Mideast battle. However the USA and the Soviet Union ordered them to drag again, in what was seen throughout the Arab world as a defining victory for Nasser and Arab nationalism.

The dam’s building modified the very panorama of Egypt. It spared the farmers from seasonal droughts and flooding, and generated electrical energy, spurring Egypt’s fast improvement. For years, the dam served as the primary supply of energy for the nation, which has not too long ago wanted to spend money on different sources to satisfy the wants of its booming inhabitants.

“It’s the best Egyptian undertaking because the time of the pharaohs,” stated Abbas Sharaky, a water assets professor at Cairo College, describing how the Nile was tamed.

The river is shaped by its two tributaries, the Blue Nile, originating from Lake Tana in Ethiopia and the White Nile, from Lake Victoria in Uganda. The tributaries meet in central Sudan from the place the Nile winds northward by way of Egypt and flows into the Mediterranean Sea.

The undertaking ensured an ample water provide all yr, Sharaky stated. Within the 1980s, a protracted drought dropped the Nile to its lowest degree since 1913 south of the dam, and upstream international locations confronted drought and famine. However Egypt was spared. Lake Nasser, created by the dam, supplied an alternate supply of water.

At this time, as Egypt marks 50 years of the Aswan Dam, it’s embroiled in stormy negotiations with Sudan and Ethiopia to resolve a long-running dispute over one other huge dam, one which Ethiopia is constructing on the Blue Nile, the primary tributary of the Nile.

Ethiopia hopes its dam, now greater than three-quarters full, will generate electrical energy vital to assist pull thousands and thousands of its folks out of poverty. Egypt, which depends virtually fully on the Nile to provide water for agriculture and its 100 million-strong inhabitants, fears a devastating influence if the Ethiopian dam is operated with out taking its wants under consideration.

Regardless of the quite a few advantages it introduced, the Aswan Excessive Dam additionally had damaging side-effects. It elevated the salt content material of the soil used to develop meals, holding again the wealthy silt that acted as a fertilizer, and drove 1000’s of villagers from their Nile Valley properties.

Some 50,000 Nubian folks have been subjected to pressured resettlement in 1963 and 1964, to vacate the realm the place Lake Nasser, which covers 2,000 sq. miles, was created.

The world paid little consideration to the displacement of the Nubians, who have been moved to 44 new villages north of Aswan, however many nonetheless dream of returning to land alongside the lake, close to their unique properties.

There was, nevertheless, worldwide uproar over antiquities courting again to the occasions of the pharaohs that have been endangered by the dam’s encroaching reservoir. In 1960, the UNESCO issued a global enchantment to save lots of the temples of Abu Simbel, one of many nation’s hottest vacationer sights and a priceless treasure from antiquity. Greater than 113 international locations responded with funds or experience on the time.

The temples have been moved piece by piece to larger floor — an unprecedented engineering achievement, remembered as a turning level that made the preservation of cultural treasures a accountability that minimize throughout borders.

“In fact, there have been damages,” Sharaky, the college professor, stated of the Aswan dam’s building. “However the advantages have been incomparable.”

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