Tuesday, January 19, 2021

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

MANIAL SULTAN, Egypt (AP) — Yassin Saeed remembers when the Nile’s annual flood drenched his village within the years earlier than the development of the Aswan Excessive Dam. Now, former flood lands are inexperienced fields year-round.

“Our lives had been very onerous,” stated the 76-year-old Egyptian, recounting how his father, his brothers and different farmers had to make use of the normal felucca sailboats to reap the corn crops within the flooded fields.

The world was flooded at the very least a 3rd of the yr; the villagers would erect mud limitations to forestall waters from reaching their houses. Then got here the dam, which formally opened after greater than a decade of development 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 development after america and Britain withdrew monetary help.

Their withdrawal was a think about Nasser’s subsequent choice 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 america 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 development 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 principle supply of energy for the nation, which has lately wanted to put money into different sources to fulfill the wants of its booming inhabitants.

“It’s the best Egyptian mission because the time of the pharaohs,” stated Abbas Sharaky, a water sources 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 Egypt and flows into the Mediterranean Sea.

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

At the moment, 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 large dam, one which Ethiopia is constructing on the Blue Nile, the principle tributary of the Nile.

Ethiopia hopes its dam, now greater than three-quarters full, will generate electrical energy crucial to assist pull tens of millions of its folks out of poverty. Egypt, which depends nearly solely on the Nile to provide water for agriculture and its 100 million-strong inhabitants, fears a devastating impression if the Ethiopian dam is operated with out taking its wants into 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 hundreds of villagers from their Nile Valley houses.

Some 50,000 Nubian folks had been subjected to compelled 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 had been moved to 44 new villages north of Aswan, however many nonetheless dream of returning to land alongside the lake, close to their authentic houses.

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

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

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

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