- Title: Fears at Nile's convergence in Sudan that new dam will sap river's strength
- Date: 9th July 2020
- Summary: TUTI ISLAND, KHARTOUM, SUDAN (FILE - FEBRUARY 12, 2020) (REUTERS) VIEW OF THE NILE AT POINT OF CONVERGENCE WHERE BLUE AND WHITE NILE MEET IN SUDAN VARIOUS OF BRICK MAKERS DIGGING TUTI ISLAND VARIOUS OF BRICK MAKER WOKING / PUTTING CLAY INTO MOULD TO SHAPE THEM FOR BRICKS BRICK WORKER WALKING WITH MOULD TO LAY BRICKS OUT TO DRY TUTI ISLAND, KHARTOUM, SUDAN (FILE - FEBRUARY 13, 2020) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) BRICK WORKER, MOHAMED AHMED AL AMEEN, SAYING: "I consider the Nile something I have not parted with since I was born, I eat from it, I farm with it and I extract these green bricks from it so they can become red bricks. My entire livelihood is sourced from the Nile, I don't have anything else." VARIOUS OF WORKERS CARRYING DRIED BRICKS TUTI ISLAND, KHARTOUM, SUDAN (FILE - FEBRUARY 12, 2020) (REUTERS) BRICK WORKERS SEEN ON TOP OF MOUNTAIN OF DRY BRICKS BRICK WORKERS MOVING DOWN STEPS FROM MOUNTAIN OF DRY BRICKS VARIOUS OF WORKERS COLLECTING AND CARRYING BRICKS TUTI ISLAND, KHARTOUM, SUDAN (FILE - FEBRUARY 13, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF BRICK MAKERS HAVING BREAKFAST (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LAND OWNER, ALHADI ABDELWAHAB JEBRIL, SAYING: "Two thirds of the Sudanese people live on the Nile. Our land here needs the Nile, especially the Blue Nile that carries clay from Ethiopia that settles here all around the land. This is what we use to make the bricks. Even regarding farming, the floods clean the soil from fertilizers, it washes away salts and renews the land." TUTI ISLAND, KHARTOUM, SUDAN (FILE - FEBRUARY 12, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF FARM LAND AND WATER PUMPS IN FIELDS / VIEW OF THE NILE FROM FIELDS TUTI ISLAND, KHARTOUM, SUDAN (FILE - FEBRUARY 14, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF FARMER MUSSA ADAM BAKR IN FIELD COLLECTING EGGPLANTS VARIOUS OF FARMERS COLLECTING EGGPLANTS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) FARMER, MUSSA ADAM BAKR, SAYING: "With regards to the Renaissance dam, it will impact our work. It will impact the Nile's water levels especially when the dam is closed, but when it is open we'll be okay. Because when there's flooding, we benefit from this flooding and use it to cultivate our land to grow our vegetables such as peppers, onions, garlic and everything else we farm. We are harmed when the dam is closed." TUTI ISLAND, KHARTOUM, SUDAN (FILE - FEBRUARY 12, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF YOUNG BOY WALKING THROUGH FIELD AT SUNSET OMDURMAN, SUDAN (FILE - FEBRUARY 21, 2020) (REUTERS) LOCAL SUDANESE MAN DRINKING TEA AT SUNSET TUTI ISLAND, KHARTOUM, SUDAN (FILE - FEBRUARY 15, 2020) (REUTERS) VIEW OF BOATS ON NILE RIVER TUTI ISLAND, KHARTOUM, SUDAN (FILE - FEBRUARY 15, 2020) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) FISH TRADER, ASHRAF HASSAN, SAYING: "I cannot, honestly (live without the Nile). Our livelihood depends on it, we can't be too far away from it. Just like a fish: a fish out of water will die, it cannot survive, us too, we live as part of the water, or around it."
- Embargoed: 23rd July 2020 11:52
- Keywords: Blue Nile Convergence Egypt Ethiopia Grand Renissance Dam Nile River Sudan White Nile
- Location: KHARTOUM, OMDURMAN AND WADI RAMLI, SUDAN
- City: KHARTOUM, OMDURMAN AND WADI RAMLI, SUDAN
- Country: Sudan
- Topics: Human-Led Feature,Human-Led Stories
- Reuters ID: LVA001CM38H8N
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: PART AUDIO AS INCOMING
At an open-air, riverbank factory where the Blue Nile and White Nile meet in Sudan, Mohamed Ahmed al Ameen and his colleagues mould thousands of bricks every day from mud deposited by summer floods.
"I consider the Nile something I have not parted with since I was born," Ameen said, as workers around him shaped bricks with blistered hands and laid them out to dry in the sun. "I eat from it, I farm with it. And I extract these bricks from it."
But the labourers on Tuti Island in Sudan's capital Khartoum fear a giant dam Ethiopia is building close to the border between the two countries could endanger their livelihood.
They worry the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam upstream could weaken the Blue Nile's force, putting at risk an industry that locals say provided bricks for some of Khartoum's first modern public buildings around a century ago.
Pottery makers, farmers and fishermen around the Nile's convergence share similar concerns, though other residents displaced by flooding last summer see benefit in a dam that will regulate the powerful river's waters.
The dam "will stabilise the Nile and we will get less flooding" said Mutasim al-Jeiry, a 50-year-old potter in a village outside Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman, where workers craft jars with clay from the river.
"But on the other hand we will get less clay and less water. Farmers, brick and pottery makers will be seriously affected," he predicts.
The residents' views are a snapshot of the hopes and fears thrown up along the length of the Nile by the vast hydropower project, which has triggered a high-wire diplomatic stand-off between Ethiopia and Egypt downstream.
Ethiopia, which says it is finally asserting its right to harness the Blue Nile's waters to power its economy, promises to start filling the dam's reservoir later this month.
Egypt, which sees a risk to its scarce water supplies, is frantically trying to secure a deal that would guarantee minimum flows from the Blue Nile, the source of about 86 percent of the waters of the Nile, which flows into the Mediterranean.
Sudan's government says the dam could threaten the safety of some 20 million Sudanese living downstream and damage the country's flood-plain agricultural system if not built and operated correctly.
But it also sees potential benefits in controlling floods during the rainy season and improving the performance of its own dams.
That ambivalence is echoed in the village of Wad Ramli, 60km (37 miles) downstream from Khartoum, where flooding was especially bad last summer. Some residents whose houses were damaged or destroyed were displaced to canvas tents pitched nearby.
"It is true the Renaissance dam will lower the Nile's water levels and prevent flooding," said Manal Abdelnaay, a 23-year-old living in one of the tents. "However, it will impact farming, and the Wad Ramli area is one that lives off farming."
On Tuti Island, farmers and landowners are anxious that if the dam saps the river's strength, there will be less water to irrigate and replenish the soil.
"I came to Tuti in 1988 because the land here is the best for agriculture and close enough to supply markets, and it makes good incomes" says Mussa Adam Bakr, who farms a plot where vegetable fields back onto citrus and mango groves, next to the brick factory.
"Through the year the Tuti earth produces all sorts of vegetables like potatoes, onions, aubergines," says Bakr.
Sudan was long overshadowed in the dispute over the dam by its two larger neighbours, but has recently stepped up to broker new negotiations between the three countries.
Its citizens will be watching carefully for any changes in the waters they are so dependent upon.
"A fish out of water will die, it cannot survive," says Ashraf Hassan, a 45-year-old fish trader in Omdurman. "Us too, we live as part of the water, or around it."
(Production: El Tayyeb Siddiq, Zohra Bensamra, Mohamed Noureldine, Seham Eloraby)
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