April 14, 2012

Higher dam at Arba'at?

 Satellite photo of the dam region. Two portions are shown, only one is holding water. At the right edge of the black lake is a two part dam, but there is another dam to the left, with a white concrete spiillway. North is at the top. Water flows from the left side [west] to the right side[east] of the photo. If you click on the photo, you can see numerous earth dams to assist in irrigating fields. Search google maps for more. This location is about 12 miles west of Arb'at, Sudan.

A single source (with an unclear date) has stated that a deal has been signed between Sudan and  a Korean construction company to heighten the Arba'at Dam which is 40 km northwest of Port Sudan.
The report says,
Irrigation Minister Kamal Ali said the dam heightening, to be jointly undertaken by Kim Company of South Korea and Danfodio company of Sudan, will raise water output to 15 million cubic meters, enough to meet the city's daily demand.
The project is estimated to cost 4. 5 million dollars.
National Water Corporation's director, Mohammed Hassan Ammar said during the signing ceremony Monday that the dam would enhance the environment of the region and increase its agricultural output. 

Evidently this plan or a similar one has been in planning stages for many years. In the book, Climate Change and Adaptation Volume 1, [earthscan, 2008] Neil Leary points out that
Heightening of the dam is expected to divert more water for urban use in the capita city of Port Sudan to alleviate severe water shortage during summer time. But increasing water storage in the dam and diverting more water to Port Sudan will reduce the volume of water spillover that supplies the Arbaat community. Potential adverse effects of reduced water supply to Arbaat include reduced cultivated area, displacement of families, spread and invasion of aggressive mesquite trees into fertile agricultural land, and reduced production of food for subsistence and marketing to urban dwellers in Port Sudan. members of the Arbaat community are petitioning the government through traditional and religious leaders to either take necessary measures to mitigate the adverse impact of the project or, preferably, to drop the idea.

SOS Sahel is a non-governmental agency that was working in the coastal region north of Port Sudan. In their 2008-2009 annual review [page4], they commented on efforts to improve farming in areas downstream of the Arbaat dam.
Our work with traditionally conservative and marginalised Beja communities in Khor Arba’at, Red Sea State, has continued to focus on enabling the Beja to take control of their own livelihoods – through direct provision of tools, seeds, and infrastructure, and through training and community development. We have used earth-moving equipment to rehabilitate 24km of water diversion terraces and 5km of the Hanoiet dam in the Khor Arba’at delta. These water structures have enabled rain-fed irrigation of a larger area of farmland, increasing crop production. We have also provided certified seeds and agricultural tools to 318 of the poorest families – typically, those that are female-headed – and training in skills such as the use of fertilisers and pesticides.
Our work with Beja women to improve their literacy and numeracy and their awareness of gender and health issues has resulted in women reporting to us an increase in their status and confidence. We have also observed increased food production, and a shift from traditional crops such as sorghum and watermelon to ‘cash crops’ such as tomatoes and aubergines, which can be sold in Port Sudan; this has provided the Beja women, in particular, with a means to earn income, which they are able to invest in education and healthcare for their families. An unexpected and positive outcome of this programme has been the return of migrants from urban Port Sudan to rural Khor Arba’at, demonstrating that improving rural livelihoods can reduce levels of urban destitution.

Donkey cart carrying pupils to Kissibyai School, Khor Arba'at [SOS Sahel photo - January 2008]

Education in Khor Arba'at, in the Red Sea State of Sudan, is limited. Boys were having to walk many kilometres to get to their nearest school, and there was no school for girls.

In 2006, SOS Sahel UK set up the only girl's school in the area - Kissibyai School - which also accommodates boys in a separate classroom. To help the pupils attend school regularly, and ease the concerns of parents, we organised a local donkey & cart owner to become the school bus. He is paid monthly from families of the pupils. As a result, regular school attendance has been maintained, especially for girls.

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