The American Committee


The mission of the committee is to preserve the Nubian heritage in the Nile Valley


The American Committee for Nubian Heritage is a group of persons centered in the Western Hemisphere who are concerned that the building of new dams on the Nile will displace tens of thousands, severely damage the Nile and destroy a heritage of vast importance. It believes that leaving the inhabitants of Nubia in their current homes, leaving the Nubian environment undiminished, and preserving the historic heritage of the country in place is of great importance to the world. It seeks to engage governments, international agencies, activist organizations and individuals to oppose constructions that would deeply damage not just Nubia but also Sudan and Northeast Africa.


The Egyptian lower dam at Aswan displaced some people, but it was the High Dam, closed in 1964, that started the momentum to build large-scale dams on the great rivers of the Middle East. These have displaced thousands of people, destroyed vast amounts of the human heritage and significantly damaged the environment. In these projects, the people displaced were not consulted, their consent was not sought, and adequate compensation and favorable resettlement was not given. Instead the affected people were either just displaced, packed off to an unknown fate, or put into compounds in barren areas that resembled confinement as much as a settlement. The Nubian diaspora particularly had a negative effect, with increases in illness and drops in life expectancy among the results. With consequences in the three areas of human rights, environment and heritage, such dams should engage organizations concerned with all three areas; if the actions in one are not the worst possible, the results in all three are horrific.

The dams of northern Sudan have been an off-again, on-again issue for many years. Real momentum for multiple dams got under way in the ’90’s under the current government and a Dams Implementation Unit was established that is now a ministry. Besides the huge dam and reservoir at Hamdab (Merowe), dams have been planned at Dal, Kajbar, Shereik, and Mograt as well as the Sixth Cataract on the Nile. In addition, there is also a dam on the upper Atbara. A series has been planned on the White Nile, but the problem is mooted by the separation of the country. The Dal and Kajbar projects have not been pursued with the consistent public vigor, as was the case of Hamdab, because both early on generated major local opposition, culminating in deaths at Sabu near Kajbar. By the end of 2010, however, contracts were let for Kajbar, Shereik and Atbara and there has been word of survey for Dal. (Sources were found by web searches that turned up news of the contracts and job postings for the work at Kajbar.) Throughout, the Sudanese government has been vague and indirect, moving suddenly, then retreating, at least once, just as suddenly.

Who we are:

The Committee


James P. Allen, Wilbour Professor of Egyptology, Brown University

John Coleman Darnell, Professor of Egyptology, Yale University


Colleen Manassa, Associate Professor of Egyptology, Yale University

W. Benson Harer, M.D., former Adjunct Professor of Egyptian Art, California State University San Bernardino

Contact for the Committee:

Bruce Williams

What can be done:

Join us in contacting anyone who may be able to influence the Sudan Government. Circulate this to friends and colleagues. Share your ideas how we may further pursue this work.  Contact us to be listed as a supporter of the committee’s work and for further information.



  1. “After 50 years, when you look at the new land that was acquired by the Nubians, or where the Nubians were displaced to is miserable reading where you have an enormous amount of health problems … you have very bad logistics and again massive migration but this time they look like refugees.” Arif Gamal.
    In May 1964, Jamal Abdul-Nasser, the Egyptian president, and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev attended celebrations marking the start of the second stage of building the Aswan High dam.

    At the push of a button, water levels behind the dam rose rapidly.

    The project was on track. But at the expense of over 120,000 Nubians – in both Egypt and Sudan — who were forced to move.

    Arif Gamal, a Sudanese Nubian, was a child when the displacement occurred.

    Today he teaches African history in the US.

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