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Sudan: Fears loom for ‘lack of flooding’ as Renaissance Dam nears completion

Published: Updated:

As Sudan is experiencing the largest floods in the last century, experts are worried that 2017 maybe the last time the 1.8 million square kilometer country will experience the annual deluge.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan, rain and floods in 11 Sudanese states affected 64,000 people by the end of August.

The Nile reached its highest level in nearly a century. The recorded depth was 17.14 meters in August at the Mogran station Khartoum.

Despite massive property damage and the human cost, Sudanese environmental experts have expressed fears to Al Arabiya English that the current flood may be the last as the completion of the controversial Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia is nearing.

“Many indicators confirm that this year’s flood may become the last flood in Sudan’s history,” said the former director of the Nile Water Department at the Ministry of Irrigation, Water Resources and Electricity, Haider Yousif al-Badri.

The progress made in the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and the approach of water storage phase marks the end of the reign of the Nile floods in Sudan he added.

ethiopia dam AFP
ethiopia dam AFP

‘Negative consequences’

As of August 2017, the work stood at 60 percent completion and once completed, the reservoir will take from five to 15 years to fill with water.

“This would bear negative consequences which include significantly lower soil replenishment, silt generation and no regeneration of groundwater reserves,” Badri said.

The Renaissance Dam is situated 15 kilometers from the Sudanese border on the Blue Nile river in Ethiopia. The dam has been under construction since 2011 and will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa when completed.

A former member of the Sudanese government’s delegation to the Nile water talks, Dr. Ahmed Al-Mufti, shared the same concerns.

“Nile flooding fluctuates from one year to the other but the discontinuation of flooding after the Ethiopian dam has been confirmed and the impact on Sudan is going to be very negative,” he said.

The former Deputy Secretary General of the Supreme Council for the Environment in Sudan, Mahjoub Hassan, said that the lack of flooding would also result in negative social impacts.

Many Sudanese riverine villages depend on the collection of large amounts of floating wood from the Ethiopian highlands for their living, he said.