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An Evaluation of the Economic, Social and Environmental impacts of building the Aswan Dam on the people and environment of the River Nile

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Introduction

+An Evaluation of the Economic, Social and Environmental impacts of building the Aswan Dam on the people and environment of the River Nile Nick Jackson Candidate Number : 8855 Introduction At 4,132 miles, the Nile River is the largest river in the world. It has its origins in Burundi, south of the equator, and flows northward through Uganda and into Sudan eventually flowing through Egypt and finally draining into the Mediterranean Sea. From Lake Victoria (its major source) to the Mediterranean Sea the Nile's river basin has an area of more than 1,293,049 square miles as shown on map on page 2. The Blue Nile and the White Nile are the main tributaries which join together at Khartoum to form the Nile. The flow of the White Nile is fairly constant but the Blue Nile is affected by monsoon rains in the Ethiopian Highlands when 2m of rain falls in June. This is reflected in a huge increase in flow downstream. Egyptian agriculture has been based on an annual cycle of flooding. The diagram below illustrates this flow. "In winter and spring the river was quiet; then, in summer the river would turn from chalky - white to a red-brown and begin to rise. When the inundation came, levees were opened to flood the fields, sending water flowing from one basin to another, saturating the land, flushing down salts and depositing a veneer of volcanic Ethiopian silt. ...read more.

Middle

This created jobs for the local community and they could charge tourists for the use of their equipment .As the Nile is now more stable, navigation on the mighty river itself has improved. It is now possible to navigate all year round rather than being seasonal. This gave another boost towards the tourist industry. Not only did Lake Nasser contribute to the incomes of the tourist industry but, as the Nile's flow was cut off this meant that large amounts of fish were trapped. As shown in map on the next page. This gave the fishing industry up stream a tremendous boost. However, the decrease in fertility downstream caused by the High Dam had a catastrophic effect on marine fisheries. The average fish catch declined from nearly 35,000 tons in 1962 and 1965 to less than one fourth of this catch in 1969. 30,000 jobs were lost as a result. Hardest hit was the sardine fishery which is largely dependent on the flood season. The construction of the dam had a direct impact on the farming industry of Egypt. One of the effects on agriculture was that crops could be grown all year round. A major reason for this was that the irrigation could be used to keep the crops - mainly rice and sugar cane -growing during the dry months. Since the fear of flooding no longer existed, farmers were able to work in the fields all year round. ...read more.

Conclusion

When the dam was being built it was like a political football. When Egypt charged to use the Suez Canal in order to raise money for the building of the dam the United Kingdom, France and Israel invaded, such is the strategic importance of the area as a whole. Sudan, which lies upstream from the dam and in which the waters of the Blue and White Niles join at Khartoum, is demanding electricity from the Aswan HEP stations. This is causing controversy in the region. The long profile of the river illustrated below show that both Uganda and Sudan can claim ownership to the Nile waters. Conclusion Although the benefits to Egypt of the building of the Aswan Dam are undisputed it is the relative significance of the side effects which generate debate and controversy. And as an old Egyptian doctor said, "We still do not understand the natural world in which we live and any attempt to harness and control nature can only result in her anger and wrath." Today * the ice cap of Kilimanjaro is forecast to melt within the next 20 years as a result of global warning; * natural floodplains are recognised as integral parts of flood defence systems once again; * the Chinese are preparing to dam the Yangtse River to create a lake which will dwarve Lake Nasser a critical evaluation of the impacts of building the Aswan Dam on the people of the River Nile 40 years ago has increasing relevance. The full impact of this project is yet to be felt - particularly in the ecological and political arenas. ...read more.

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