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 IRN’s Merowe Campaign

The El Multaga resettlement site  
The El Multaga resettlement site, where some of those being resettled for Merowe Dam have been moved, is a barren stretch of desert  
Merowe Dam (also known as Hamdab or Hamadab Dam) is a US$1.8 billion hydropower dam being built on the Nile in Sudan. It will displace more than 50,000 people (mainly small farmers living along the Nile), have serious health impacts, and far-reaching environmental consequences. The 174-km-long reservoir will inundate an area rich in history and antiquities dating back 5,000 years. Project planning has been non-transparent, and people who will be directly affected by it have not had their voices heard. Dissent has been met with harsh government repression.

A peace agreement signed in early 2005 brings hope for the end of a brutal civil war that has ravaged Sudan for more than 40 years. After years of political and economic isolation, Sudan can now anticipate receiving large amounts of Western development assistance and private foreign investment. At this critical juncture, decision-making processes should be democratized, and the space for Sudan’s civil society should be widened. As foreign aid and investment start flowing into the country, the rule of law, the rights of the communities affected by development projects and the environment must be protected.

The Merowe Dam project can be seen as a test case for future infrastructure development in Sudan. The Merowe project is thus far setting a poor precedent for future investments. IRN is working to help expose potential investors in Sudan to the issues brought forth by this project, to help local groups press for a more open climate in Sudan for civil society and project-affected people, and for more thorough, transparent project planning as new development projects begin to compete for limited investment dollars. At local groups’ request, we also hope to raise awareness of the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams  as part of the effort to improve planning for water and energy projects in Sudan. This work is especially critical now that Sudan intends to assess four potential hydropower sites in South Sudan, which could result in a sizable hydropower investment program beginning as early as 2007.

  latest additions  
Memorandum to the Chinese Government
When President Hu Jintao visited Sudan in February 2007, IRN and other groups asked the Chinese authorities to address the problems of the Merowe Dam. Read the NGO memorandum on this topic.
Hundreds Forced to Flee Homes as Reservoir Waters Rise Without Warning
More than 100 families were suddenly forced to abandon their homes on August 7 because of rising flood waters after the authorities unexpectedly closed the dam’s gates and began filling its reservoir. The families have been left without food or shelter.
Massacre against Dam-Affected People
In April 2006, the dam authorities carried out a massacre against people who are resisting displacement for the Merowe Dam. Read this update.
Environmental Problems of the Merowe Dam
An independent review published in March 2006 analyzes the serious shortcomings of the environmental assessment of the Merowe Dam.
Escalating Conflict Over the Merowe Dam
In late November 2005, the area affected by the Merowe Dam erupted in violence. Read the appeal in which IRN and the Corner House called for a peaceful resolution of the conflict and a halt of the dam construction activities.
Report from Fact-Finding Mission to Dam Site
Read about the social and environmental problems of the Merowe/Hamadab Dam Project in Sudan. An Arabic translation is also available.
Serious Human Rights Problems at Merowe/Hamdab
An April 2004 letter to the German company Lahmeyer alerted the company to serious human rights problems with the dam; it accompanied a petition signed by more than 160 people. Read the petition: www.petitiononline.com. Also, read about Lahmeyer’s Record on Past Large Dam Projects (PDF), from the March 2004 report "Dams, Inc." by the UK group The Cornerhouse.
Sudan Government Arrests People in Area Affected by Merowe Dam
Sudan government arrests people in area affected by Merowe Dam. Dam-affected leaders say the arrests "will definitely set fire to an already inflammable situation in the project area." Read the December 10, 2004 press release by Movement of Displaced (MOD).
The Merowe Dam: Controversy and Displacement in Sudan
From the Fall 2004 issue of Forced Migration Review.
NGOs Urge Alstom to Reconsider its Involvement in Merowe Dam (PDF)
A Feb. 2004 sign-on letter to the French firm Alstom asks the company to reconsider its involvement in the controversial Merowe Dam on the Nile. Read Alstom’s reply.
Additional Information
  • Learn about the Manasir Cultural Research Project’s efforts to document the cultural landscape and local traditions of the Manasir tribe, whose homeland will be submerged by the Merowe Dam.