Un dammed opposition

The us $1.2 billion Merowe/Hamadab dam on river Nile in Sudan, the largest hydropower project being developed in Africa, is being opposed by environmentalists. The 1,250-megawatt dam, to be completed 2007-2009, aims to double Sudan's power-generating capacity.

But environmental groups such as International Rivers Network (irn) and Corner House point out in a recent report that the dam will flood a 476 square kilometre area. Erosion and sedimentation "could also lead to massive daily fluctuations of the water level downstream'. Besides, an area with a 5,000-year-old history would also be submerged. About 50,000 people will be displaced.

While Sudan's minister of humanitarian affairs, Ibrahim Mahmud Hamid, was reported by irin as saying this was one of the best-organised projects for those affected, the green groups claimed otherwise. The government has promised cash compensation, a house, land and free utility services for two years to affected families. But irn and Corner House allege that the land at the resettlement site is infertile and those who have already been resettled don't have the promised facilities (water, electricity and fertiliser).