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The Aswan High DamThe dam was conceived as an ambitious, multi-purpose projectaimed at improving irrigation and water resource control anddevelopment, increasing cultivation, providing protectionagainst high floods and severe drought, and facilitatingnavigation, fishery expansion and electric power generation,while minimizing harmful effects on the environment and thecountrys rich cultural heritage.Before the building of the Aswan High Dam, Egypt experienced annual floods from the NileRiver that deposited four million tons of nutrient-rich sediment which enabled agriculturalproduction. This dam was insufficient to hold back the water of the Nile and wassubsequently raised in 1912 and 1933. In 1946, the true danger was revealed when thewater in the reservoir peaked near the top of the dam.The Soviets helped the people of Egypt to design and build the granite dam, which is 3.26 kmin length, and rises 111 m above the Nile River base. The dam was built about 13 km south ofthe Egyptian city of Aswan, and was named the Aswan High Dam. The Soviets also providedthe hydroelectric equipment used in the power station. It took ten years to build the dam, at acost of $1 billion. The dam began operating in 1970, and has proven to be both beneficial anddetrimental to the people and the surrounding land.
Importance of the River Nile to EgyptEverything depended on the River Nile in ancient times as it still does today. It wasan important part of Ancient Egypt. Without it there would have been littleagriculture, transport and communication. It is unlikely that the ancient civilizationwould have developed. The River Nile has played a crucial role in developingancient Egypt into what it is today.The River Nile was a source of water for the Egyptians. The water was used fordrinking and watering crops.The River Nile was a source of food. It provided the Egyptians with fish.The River Nile was a mean of transport for trade, allowing Egypt’s economy todevelop.The Niles annual inundation allowed its banks to befertile. This enabled the Egyptians to cultivate wheat,barley, beans, lentils, peas, leeks and onions, as well asfruits such as dates, figs, grapes and melons. Thisensured that there was food for everyone.
Physical Geography of the Nile River and its valley The Nile river valley’s geography is somewhat diverse. The river is 6,650 kilometers long and is one of the longest rivers in the world. It has two stretches of land around it and is very fertile land due to the rivers’ annual flooding. The Nile flows north because of the topography of the land and it also has many waterfalls. The two main tributaries of the Nile River are the White Nile and the Blue Nile. The source of the White Nile is the Kagera River, which is formed by headstreams in Rwanda and Burundi. The Blue Nile begins 1,785 m above sea level in Lake Tana, in western Ethiopia. The two tributaries converge in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan where they form the Nile River. The Nile River from source to sea has a total length of 6,695 kilometers. The mouth of the river is the Mediterranean Sea off Egypt.The White Nile drains in the central lake region of Africa. While the Blue Nile begins in LakeTana in western Ethiopia.
Physical Geography of the Nile River and its valleyThe source of the White Nile is the Kagera River. Flowing northward and theneastward, the Kagera is fed by rivers in Uganda and Tanzania before emptying intoLake Victoria. Leaving the lake in Uganda, the river flows generally northwest ward,passing through Lake Kyoga, dropping 40m at Kabalega Falls, and flowing into thenorthern tip of Lake Albert. The river turns sharply northward to cross the Sudanborder, where it becomes the White Nile.The Blue Nile is 1,785 m above sea level in Lake Tana, in westernEthiopia. Starting southeast ward, the river swings in a wide to crossthe Sudan border, continuing northwest ward. It has no largetributaries, and gets its great seasonal volume from heavy summerrains. Continuing northwest ward, it drops gradually to the Sudanplateau and joins the White Nile.The Nile proceeds northward into Egypt, and here, about 90 percent of the people live in the narrow valley, which accounts for onlyabout 3 per cent of Egypts land. At Cairo the Nile splits into severaldistributaries that flow across the wide, fan-shaped delta into theMediterranean Sea.
AdvantagesFarmers:• Before the Aswan High Dams was built, the River Nile would floodevery year. No one knew exactly when it would flood. Thus, manycrops would be destroyed. Now, Control of flooding is carried out bythe dam. By keeping so much water back in Lake Nasser, the RiverNile rarely floods the surrounding farmland any more. With the floodsunder control, less crops will be destroyed and farmers will have a higher income. Also, thefarmers would not have to worry about their crops getting swept away my the floods• The act of keeping back the water from the River Nile has lowered its level, effectivelycreating new farmland by the river sides. This is also less prone to flooding. This allows thefarmers to grow more crops at one time, earning more income.• Before the Aswan High Dam was built, the River Nile used to flood every year. No-oneknew exactly when the flood would occur. Now, the Egyptian government can flood the landwhen they need to. Farmers use water from the River Nile to irrigate their crops. With thismeans that the farmers would produce more crops. Farmers could trade their surpluses toearn money. They will also have a steady supply of water for irrigation. This leads to farmersproducing more bountiful crops, rise in sales and profits.This enables Egypt to double itsagricultural and farming production
AdvantagesVillagers:• By building the Aswan High Dam, it means that there is plenty of fresh and cleandrinking water for the people of Egypt. They get their drinking water from Lake Nasser.• The Aswan Dam is a hydro-electric power station and it produces10 billion kilowatts ofelectricity every year. Approximately one third of all of Egypt’s energy is created at thedam. The water from the River Nile turns the turbines and produces electricity. Theelectricity is taken from the dam by cables and is used in factories and homes all overEgypt. People use the electricity for cooking, lighting, watching television and many otheractivities.• For the first time in history the annual Nile flood could be controlled by man. Since thefloods could be controlled, less lives are lost and the people’s lives are safe. • The Aswan High Dam provides a constant source of water to the people of Egypt. Water from Lake Nasser is pumped into peoples homes all over Egypt and is used for washing, drinking and in washing machines. • As the farmers are able to produce more crops at a time and the fishermen catch more fish, the people now have more food to eat. This improves the lives of the people.
Advantages Fishermen: • Before the building of the Aswan High Dam, fishermen were scarce. Ever since they built the Aswan High Dam, the fish catch increased steadily and the fishing industry has expanded. Now, a large fishing industry has also been created because of the reservoir. • Fish live in the lake and can be fished more easily bythose fishermen who used to fish in the River Nile. This improves their livelihoods and fishstocks can be replaced more easily. • With the large fishing industry, the surplus of fish will be sold off with a net profit. This would increase the livelihood of the fishermen. • With the net profit, fishermen could purchase more effective equipment which allows them to catch more fish at any one time. This would boost the fishing industry and this process will repeat to boost the industry even further.
AdvantagesEnvironmentalists:• They can conduct more experiments to find out more aboutthe environment and if successful can earn money.With themoney, the scientists can campaign against the unwantedwith their findings and hopefully stop it.
DisadvantagesFarmers:• When the Aswan High Dam was built, the sediments and nutrients that flow from theRiver Nile are now trapped in the reservoir behind the Aswan High Dam. This causes thesoil in areas along the lower course of the river to become less fertile. Farmers wouldneed to resort spending a lot of money to buy chemical fertilisers to make their landsfertile. This leads to farmers who want to save money for growing crops having to buyexpensive fertilisers in order to produce as many crops, which leads to decrease in profitfor farmers. Using artificial fertilizer, it reduces the foods’ nutritional value and may nottaste the same. This may make the food not as sought after and the selling prices mightbe lower, causing a decrease in the net profit and in some cases may result in a loss.• When the annual flood can be controlled, this means there will be no flooding or naturalirrigation anymore because the water is let out of the dam at a steady rate throughout theyear. Farmers would then have to artificially pipe the water to their fields or build costlycanals to do it.• When water evaporates in these hot areas, it bringssalts to the soil surface.. Poor drainage of the newlyirrigated lands has led to saturation and increased salinity.This is not good for the crops and over one half of Egyptsfarmland in now rated medium to poor soils. Thus,farmers will have a lower income.
DisadvantagesFarmers:• Egypt is extremely hot so the evaporation from Lake Nasser is very high as aconsequence and this means a lot of water is lost. Some of the water is also lost fromLake Nasser because of some leaks through the Aswan High Dam. When there is lesswater, farmers will have less water for irrigation and have lower income.• When the Aswan High Dam was built, parasitic diseases such as schistosomiasis andbilharzia has been associated with the stagnant water of the fields and the reservoir.Farmers work near to water to ensure the easy transport of water to their fields for theirrigation of their crops. The farmers could be infected by schistosomiasis and bilharziaand they might get so ill that they cannot harvest the fields and grow crops. This wouldresult in much lesser crops. This means that the farmers would have a lower income.• When the Aswan High Dam was built, there is less water going downstream from thedam, the salt from the Mediterranean Sea has crept slowly inland, making the soilsaltier than normal. This is harmful to the soil, making it unfit to use for growing crops.Thus, farmers have a lower income.• Although there were some land gains from the building of the dam, there were muchmore losses behind the dam where the land was flooded to make the reservoir of LakeNasser. Many farmers lost their farmland. With less farmland, farmers cannot grow asmany crops and will have lower income.
DisadvantagesVillagers:• Egypt is extremely hot so the evaporation from Lake Nasser is very high as aconsequence and this means a lot of water is lost. Some of the water is also lost fromLake Nasser because of some leaks through the Aswan High Dam. When a lot of water islost, there will be less water for the villagers to use for drinking, washing and otheractivities.• Although there were some land gains from the building of the dam, there were muchmore losses behind the dam where the land was flooded to make the reservoir of LakeNasser. Many people were moved and made homeless. • When the Aswan High Dam was built, parasitic diseases such as schistosomiasis and bilharzia has been associated with the stagnant water of the fields and the reservoir. Since Lake Nasser is a steady supply of water for the villagers for drinking, washing and other activities, the villagers might have been a victim of the diseases.
DisadvantagesFarmers:• After the Aswan High Dam was built, there is less water going downstream fromthe dam, the salt from the Mediterranean Sea has crept slowly inland, making thegroundwater saltier than normal. This makes the water unfit for drinking, washingor any other activities. Thus, the villagers have lost a source of water.• When the farmers grow less crops and the fishermen catch less fish, the villagerswill have less food to eat.
Disadvantages Fishermen: • With the large fishing industry, there will be a lot of competition for the fishermen for fish. With the competition, fish supply might deplete quite quickly which will result in the fall of the fish industry. • The Nile Delta is the mouth of the River Nile. The delta provides nutrients for the fish living in the Mediterranean Sea. The Aswan High Dam causes the amount of nutrients deposited at the Nile Delta to decrease, in return causing the supply of fish to decrease. Thus, the livelihood of fishermen are affected and they earn a lower income.
DisadvantagesEnvironmentalists:•The resident animals beyond the Aswan High Dam will be harmed because of thechange in the hydrologic cycle. The environmentalists would be affected as they caredeeply about the animals and would be angry and upset with the people in charge ofthe Aswan High Dam.
Our Decision After much contemplation, our group has decided to KEEP THE DAMReason:For the first time in history, we have the ability to control the annual Nile River’sfloodings. During the rainy season, the water is captured by the dam, stored untiltimes of drought, and then released as needed which benefits us greatly.Over a seventy-year period as the population of Cairo grew from 2 million to over 16million people. With the increasing population came the concern that the flood wouldbecome increasingly dangerous. Also, the annual flood was unreliable, one year, thefloods might be low, resulting in weak soil that produced few crops. The next year, thefloods might be high, destroying buildings, homes, roads, national monuments ofutmost importance and washing away important features of the land. With theincreasing population, the unreliability of the flood, and various other factors, theAswan High Dam was built, and man now can control the water flow of the Nile River.
Our DecisionReason:The Aswan High Dam has a positive impact on the rapid growing development ofAswan province, especially for the tourism industry, and the fishing success that hadoccurred after a brief decline in the fishing industry. This would allow Egypt’s trade toprosper, The majority of the Egyptian population lives in close proximity to the river,which means that the majority of the population depends on the river for irrigation,drinking water, electricity, or transportation. The dam allowed for irrigation systems tobe built, thus increasing the amount of fertile land that farmers could utilize to cultivatetheir crops.Despite the many problems and concerns caused by the dam, we feel it has been agreat success and has helped the Egyptian economy. There is still much room forimprovement, and hopefully new technologies will be implemented to make the AswanHigh Dam and the Nile River beneficial for all.