The European Committee


The mission of the committee is to preserve the Middle Nile – its natural and cultural landscape, its people, and its heritage.


The Middle Nile is the 1700 km stretch of the River Nile between the confluence of the Blue and the White Niles at Khartoumin Sudanto Aswanin Egypt. This stretch has already seen the building of two gigantic dams, the Aswan High Dam in Egypt completed in 1971 and displacing c. 120 000 people and the Merowe Dam in Sudan completed in 2009 and displacing c. 70 000 people. The impetus to establish this committee is the news thatSudan is planning to build at least three more dams on the Middle Nile. The European Committee for Preserving the Middle Nile is a group of people who are concerned that the building of more dams on this stretch of the Nile will displace tens of thousands people, severely damage the river ecosystem, and destroy a heritage of vast importance – not only for the local people, but for mankind. We believe that leaving the inhabitants of the Middle NileValley in their current homesteads, leaving the environment of the Middle NileValley undiminished, and preserving the cultural heritage in place is of great importance to the world. The committee seeks to engage governments, international agencies, activist organizations, and individuals to oppose constructions that would deeply damage the Middle Nile by transforming the river into a series of water reservoirs with immense effects for the landscape, the people, and the heritage.


The building of dams on the Nile – the longest river in the world – started with a minor dam at Aswan in Egyptin 1902, which was heightened twice before being replaced by the High Dam in 1971. As a consequence of the dam buildings at Aswan in Upper Egypt, the Nubians living between the First and the Second Cataracts had to relocate four times during the last century – in 1902, 1912, 1933, and 1963. In total, the Aswan dams displaced 70,000 people in Egypt and 50,000 people in Sudan, causing the ‘Nubian Exodus’ in the poetic phrasing of Hassan Dafalla.[1] The recently completed Merowe Dam inSudan displaced around 70,000 people and flooded the entire heartland of the Manasir tribe. The majority of the people affected by the Aswan and Merowe dams in Sudan have experienced an impoverishment of their life standards. In these projects, the people displaced were not consulted, their consent was not sought, and adequate compensation and favourable resettlement was not given. Instead the affected people were either forcefully displaced to resettlement sites in the desert or resisting this forced to settle in the barren land next to the reservoirs.

The dams of the Middle Nile in Sudan have been underway by the current regime since the 1990s as one of the main aims of development by producing electricity. Real momentum took place when Sudan became an oil exporting country in 1999, and a Dams Implementation Unit was established that has now become the Ministry of Electricity and Dams. Besides the gigantic Merowe Dam already implemented, dams have been planned on the remaining cataracts at Dal, Kajbar, Mograt, Dagash, Shereik, and Sabaloka. In addition, there are also plans for a dam on the Upper Atbara. By the end of 2010, contracts were given to Chinese contractors for Kajbar, Shereik, and Atbara, and Dal is expected to follow soon.

Local activist groups that have been working against the dam building scheme since the 1990s – Leadership Office of the Hamadab Affected People (against the Merowe Dam) and Rescue Nubia (for the dams on Kajbar and Dal). They welcome international support, since dam opponents inSudanhave been chased, imprisoned, shoot at, and killed (at least two incidents of the latter have been reported totalling seven victims).

By building the dams in Sudan, the foreign backers and companies have closed their eyes to the fact that the government of Sudan ignores international standards on environmental considerations, human rights, and resettlement procedures, while the Sudanese government ignores alternative means of producing electricity, namely solar power, wind, and flow of the river.

What can be done:

Join us in contacting anyone who may be able to influence the Government of Sudan. 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. Sign the petition: Stop the dams in Sudan(

Who we are:

The co-chairs:

Professor Randi Haaland, Professor emeritus of African Archaeology, University of Bergen, Norway

Prof. Peter Mitchell FSA, Professor of African Archaeology, University of Oxford, Tutor and Fellow in Archaeology, St Hugh’s College, Oxford, United Kingdom

Dr. Elena A.A. Garcea, Università di Cassino, Italy. President of Society of Africanist Archaeologist.

Professor emeritus, Hans-Åke Nordström, Sweden


Henriette Hafsaas-Tsakos, PhD student, University of Bergen, Norway

Alexandros Tsakos, PhD student, Humboldt University, Germany

Contact for the Committee:

[1] District commissioner of Halfa during the resettlement process of the 1960s and author of the book with the same title.




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