The Sudanese government has recently secured construction contracts for several dams, and the work on these hydroelectric projects will start soon without any announcement. Once these projects are completed they will immediately flood all nearby archaeological sites. The construction will begin without notification or announcement because of the major protests from local Nubians, who are disputing the benefits of the construction of the Dal Dam (2nd cataract) and Kajbar Dam (3rd cataract). The Sudanese government has indicated that the dams will create additional electricity for the benefit of the local citizens, and electricity is indeed an uncontested factor for a country to develop, but the means to acquire this electricity is often contested and controversial. The local Nubian citizens in the affected areas do not agree that these hydroelectric projects will benefit them, and this is based on their past experience with the construction of the Aswan High Dam (1970), which flooded an important Nubian region in northern Sudan and southern Egypt. The Aswan Dam created a 340-mile long lake which flooded 39 Nubian villages and submerged innumerable priceless artifacts.
Thus, the Nubians are convinced that the current hydroelectric projects are simply part of an ongoing scheme to erase their culture. For example, the Nubian environmental scientist, Dr. Arif Gamal, notes that “By flooding the last of the remaining Nubian lands…the Nubians are reduced to a group of people with no sense of memory, no past and no future to look for.” The Nubian voices should be respected in this matter because they are the effected community, and the World Commission on Dams has clearly indicated in its November 2000 report that “no dam should be built without the demonstrable acceptance of the affected people.”
The mission of the Save Nubia Project (SNP) is to help raise national and international awareness about the pending flooding of the central areas of the ancient Kushite and Nubian civilizations in the Sudan. There are a series of dams (from the 2nd through 5th cataracts) scheduled for construction, each of which will cause the Nile River to back up and create a reservoir and flood countless ancient archaeological sites and displace well over 100,000 local Sudanese people. Thus, the Save Nubia Project’s task is to document that the dam construction areas in northern and central Sudan are valuable World Heritage Sites that are in danger of being destroyed, and should be preserved.
The SNP’s focus is three-fold:
- To document, record, and publish historical and archaeological evidence on the importance of this historic northern and central Sudan region.
- To present compelling evidence to UNESCO, which has the authority to designate the Sudanese dam areas as World Heritage Sites under threat, which may help protect these areas from dam construction and inundation. There are other sources of energy available in Sudan, such as solar panels and wind turbines.
- To assist the local Nubian people near the 2nd and 3rd cataracts to build a series of museums to help preserve their heritage.