Skip to main content

tv   Damming The Nile  BBC News  February 24, 2018 2:30pm-3:01pm GMT

2:30 pm
‘and then e‘fir lturu fu— it"ui‘ii mu?" weather and then after that things are set to turn a lot colder and snow will be pushing in from the east. at the moment the cold air has reached central and western parts of europe. temperatures have remained below freezing on the continent. today clear skies, temperature will dip away to minus 2 or 3 in the middle of city centres. out of town minus5or 6. middle of city centres. out of town minus 5 or 6. a harsh frost tomorrow. probably sunday the last day when the weather will be decent every where, because from monday, these clouds you can see in the north sea will be edging closing and they‘ re snow—bearing and north sea will be edging closing and they're snow—bearing and we will get snow in eastern areas, by tuesday they will become widespread and settling. this is bbc news.
2:31 pm
our latest headlines: activists say 500 people have been killed by syrian government forces bombarding eastern ghouta, nearly a quarter of them children. the red cross becomes the latest aid charity to become embroiled in scandal after revealing that 21 staff paid for sexual services whilst working for them. a man and a woman have been charged with causing death by dangerous driving following a crash which killed two young brothers in coventry. britain's women's curling team have lost to japan in the bronze medal match at the winter olympics in south korea. now, the world's longest river flows from lake tana in ethiopia, through sudan and into egypt and is vital to all three countries. but who controls the water? alastair leithead reports in this special programme, damming the nile. the river nile is the
2:32 pm
world's longest river. it's where the world's first war over water could be fought. the first of its two great tributaries, the white nile, flows from lake victoria, but ourjourney begins in ethiopia, following the blue nile from lake tana as it sweeps through africa's grand canyon to where a dam is being built close to the sudan border. lake tana, the source of the river, is a place of myth and legend. it's the biggest lake in ethiopia and many of its 37 islands have their own monasteries. it's a very sacred place for ethiopian orthodox christians. this monastery dates back to the 14th century.
2:33 pm
some of these paintings are more than 400 years old. the nile appears in the old testament and legend has it that the ark of the covenant was briefly brought here. but all is not calm on these waters. the struggle for control of this great river is dividing the three countries that share it. the nile is the bringer of life, and from where it launches itself downstream it has the power to bring peace or bring war. this is where the blue nile begins its long journey. from here up in the ethiopian highlands it will cut through caverns and canyons, across plains through sudan and egypt and into the delta of the mediterranean sea. around 85% of that water comes
2:34 pm
from here and that is why a vast new dam being built in ethiopia is dividing nations. this is the grand ethiopian renaissance dam and it is driving ethiopia's ambitious plans for industrial revolution, to put its growing population to work to power the region and to tame the river, but it's also at the heart of a row that has sucked in sudan and egypt and threatens peace in this part of africa. when it's finished, this will be the largest hydroelectric power station in africa and one of the biggest dams on the continent. it will not only power this country but the surroundings countries as well. ethiopia didn't even ask the countries downstream before it started building.
2:35 pm
that is the scale of this country's ambition. after just five years of work, it's almost two thirds complete. this project is a project that is being built by ethiopians and that will benefit other african brothers, sisters and other countries. the project manager says it is costing at least $4.5 billion and that is probably an underestimate. he insists that downstream countries shouldn't worry as it is not consuming any water. this is a hydroelectric project. it is a non—water—consuming scheme project that is only dedicated to generate electricity. this shows how the government of ethiopia, how the people of the nations, are committed themselves to eradicate our common enemy — poverty. the construction works are impressive. this second dam sweeps across a 5km valley,
2:36 pm
joining two mountains to create the edge of a vast reservoir. all this and a lot more will be flooded. 0nce finished and filled, it will cover more than 1,800 square kilometres, larger than the size of greater london. it will flood the blue nile for nearly 250km upstream. if it is filled too fast, it will reduce the amount of water that flows to sudan and egypt. thousands of people have already been moved to make way for the lake. the power lines are ready and waiting for the electricity the dam will provide. 70% of ethiopia — that's 70 million people — don't have electricity. it is holding back the country's grand plans for development and it is why people support a project they are paying for. translation: if we had electricity, we would be able to get what the village needs. for instance, the villagers here make a living by farming. if we had electricity, we would be
2:37 pm
able to create jobs on our own, including metal and woodwork. as well as that, we would also be able to own tvs, a fridge and so many other things. modernisation is already changing life in the capital, addis ababa. this is east africa's first metro system. the amount of construction going on speaks volumes. ethiopia wants to pull its people out of poverty, to create jobs and get over its historic image of drought and famine. it's africa's fastest—growing economy right now, but with a population set to double in 30 years, it needs to grow even fasterjust to keep up, hence the need for cheap renewable energy. but the cost of government ambition is human rights, freedom of speech and democracy.
2:38 pm
protests across the country are being crushed. to the government, development is everything. it is one of the most important flagship projects for ethiopia. it is a project that will transform the country, it's very important. there is money to spend and the minister says that people will pay for the dam through a lottery, contributions and taxes. he insists that despite its fears, egypt will get more rather than less water. it's not about control of the flow, it's really about providing opportunities for us to develop our service. it has a lot of benefit for the downstream countries. construction on the dam is going on around the clock, such is the urgency to get this
2:39 pm
built and generate power, but because ethiopia didn't consult with egypt or sudan before starting construction work during the arab spring, talks between the three countries keep collapsing. a new political order is emerging and egypt doesn't like it. i've spoken to senior people in ethiopia who have said that they are afraid of a war with egypt over water. that they might bomb this dam. that's the level of anger. what do you think about that? i don't think so. these kind of extreme ideas are not welcome. this will not happen in this region, i am sure. there is no record in history of war erupting because of water. the water belongs to all of us. we have to develop it in responsible ways, not thinking about war. but whatever he says, the blue nile can now be controlled
2:40 pm
by ethiopia and that is a big concern for egypt when so much of the water that reaches cairo comes from here. sudan, however its next stop, likes the look of the cheap electricity heading its way. the waters of the nile bring life to sudan. one of the world's biggest irrigation schemes was created here more than a century ago to grow cotton for britain's industrial revolution, but now it is the gulf states who need what sudan can grow. the blue nile heads north through these vast irrigated lands to join the white nile before meandering through a desert steeped in ancient history. we are following it to ask if a row over who controls its flow could lead to war. it's here in khartoum that the blue nile and the white nile meet and merge and then head north to egypt. the river has travelled
2:41 pm
about a third of the way from its source to the sea and is growing and strengthening in size. so what does sudan, this vast country now emerging from years of us sanctions, think about ethiopia building this dam upstream? well, it thinks it's a great idea. land is not in short supply and with the power of the sun and the waters of the nile, sudan's agricultural potential is huge. this is alfalfa, top—quality cattle feed, and this farm can cut nine harvests a year for cows, but primarily for export to the middle east. sudan has the right to take billions of gallons of water every year through old treaties with egypt, but claims it hasn't been using its full allocation.
2:42 pm
the suggestion it now might is a source of tension with its northern neighbour. this farm is owned by a massive private company that does everything from agriculture to mining, from cars to earth—movers to health care. its owner is sudan's richest man, who designed his own golf course in khartoum. for sudan, it is wonderful. it is the best thing that has happened for a long time and i think the combination of energy and regular water levels is a great blessing. cheap electricity can be used for a lot more than just keeping your cows properly air—conditioned. it can bring faster development to sudan, which isjust emerging from decades of crippling us sanctions and wants to take advantage of the opportunities. what do you think about the row between ethiopia and egypt about this dam? the nile is the lifeline of egypt so for them, i wouldn't say they're paranoid, but they are very concerned about
2:43 pm
anything to do with that water. and the nile is a lifeline to sudan as well. welcome to the first—ever festival of music and culture in this village. this village is about half a day's drive north of khartoum. it was abandoned 20 years ago, the mud houses left without roofs as the villagers moved away from the river banks to avoid catastrophic flooding. this woman remembers two huge floods from when she was a child. her father was mayor.
2:44 pm
this was their house. translation: it's an image from my life i will never forget. when the 1976 flood hit, it was during the date harvest, so people used boats to collect the harvest. it has lasted three weeks. the whole village left, but now a dam upstream regulates the flow of water so it doesn't flow as high, meaning they can hold festivals here and people can move back to this village, especially if there is cheap electricity on the way. it's a time of change in khartoum. with the lifting of sanctions, there is a strong cafe culture where issues of the day are discussed. most people here are in favour of the dam. our experience shows
2:45 pm
that it is a blessing to downstream countries, especially if the intention is power generation. do you think there is politics between the changing fortunes of the three countries? water in general is becoming politicised not only in this region but elsewhere, but i think there will always be a political case involving the three countries, i think it will work out. he's diplomatic, but this is far from resolved. talks between the three countries have collapsed and tensions across the whole region are growing as a result of it. the rivalries go back
2:46 pm
to the time of the pyramids — the sudanese pyramids. this isjebel barkal and these are more than 2,000 years old. for a short time, the nubian kush empire ruled egypt from here. this was their capital. powers rise and fall but all are linked by one great river. this is egypt, the next stop on our trip and what a way to see it. we are flying in a hot air balloon over luxor. the sun isjust coming up, it's a stunning way to see this country.
2:47 pm
the reason we're here is to understand and get an explanation of why it is egypt is so opposed to this dam that ethiopia is building way up the nile. even though egypt built the dam for its own development, it is angry with ethiopia's plan. from luxor, we will follow the river to cairo and onto the delta, the heart of the country's agriculture, where water is everything. the pharaohs used to worship the river as a god. egypt, they said, was the gift of the nile. civilisations flourished here on the banks of the river. these temples represent thousands of years of wealth and power. they are part of egypt's proud national identity.
2:48 pm
you don't take something so set in stone and damming the nile upstream and threatening your lifeline. the ancient egyptians considered the nile as lifeblood. it was life itself. why? because they used the nile for everything. the nile was alive and still is alive for egyptian people in egypt. and decades ago, egypt decided the best way to protect its interests was to build a dam. work on the aswan high dam began in 1960 and took ten years. it created the giant lake nasser, nearly three times bigger than the new ethiopian reservoir will be. it regulated the flooding of the nile, generated power and a agricultural lands to be indicated. tens of tens of thousands of people were forced from their homes
2:49 pm
and an ancient egyptian temple had to be moved brick by brick, but it was a symbol of great pride — a nationalist project projecting power for revolutionary post—colonial egypt. it has been good for this man, who at 60 has been a fisherman on the nile for a0 years, like his father and grandfather before him. translation: our life and livelihood depends on the nile. we as a family lived by the river. we fished, we grow crops on the islands in the nile. our cattle are fed from the nile. all our food is from the nile. he has heard about the dam in the egyptian media. ethiopia wants to control the nile and its flow will be affected, but he's sceptical. the water would be affected, but
2:50 pm
only god knows what could happen. if they dam the river, there will be wars and fighting. and there are even bigger concerns downstream in chaotic cairo. egypt relies on the nile for almost all its water but the population is growing fast. the united nations is warning there will be water shortages by 2025 because of wastage and pollution. but the government argues it is already recycling water, using it efficiently and importing wheat rather than using water to grow it. egypt's water minister says one big threat is climate change. it is unilateral action in upstream countries, it will have severe impacts downstream and this
2:51 pm
is a coordinated one. how angry are you? i am extremely angry because we are responsible for our nation which is 100 million. one of the key things i would mention to you, if the water coming to egypt is used by 2%, what does this mean? we lose about 200,000 acres of land. one acre at least. if one acre makes one family survive, the average family in egypt is five persons, so it means1 million will be jobless. he says that means more migrants heading to europe and more people to be recruited by terror groups. europe and egypt are suffering from what is happening in syria and libya and other countries, so what if egypt is added to these countries? what will happen? it is an international security issue. experts say egypt has the right to be angry. a dam was being discussed
2:52 pm
but ethiopia started building without telling egyptjudging the arab spring. the impact downstream has not been properly assessed and although the great ethiopian renaissance dam would extract water, filling it to quickly will reduce the flow downstream and it is a trust issue. ethiopia can now control the river. it is very much a game changer. now if ethiopia is combining the physical power of being upstream country that can in one way or another control the nile flow and the economic power of being able to construct the dam depending on its own domestic resources, so yeah, it's an indication, it is a manifestation that the power balance is changing in the region, economically, politically and strategically as well. the last stretch of the nile is where its famous cotton is grown
2:53 pm
alongside crops like rice, a notoriously thirsty crop. irrigating fields by flooding them is one reason why so much water is wasted. the delta is silting as the dam stops being replenished, the reason the nile flood plains were so productive to begin with. it is now polluted and fish are dying and people are getting poorer. saltwater is moving gradually upstream. it is sad to see how this great river ends up. this is it, this is where the river nile reaches the end of its long journey. this behind me is the mediterranean sea. you can see the waves coming in, this is now saltwater. whatever egypt says or does, ethiopia is building this dam.
2:54 pm
it's not an idea or a plan, it's a thing. you can already control the flow of the river nile. egypt has was been strong enough to dominate the countries upstream but that is changing. talk of war is a foolish thing to do to solve political prices and every one we have spoken to, nobody thinks that is going to happen, but this is a really serious problem and needs to be sorted out quickly. the nile is the place were the world's first war over water can be avoided. this could even become a model of how countries can learn to share great rivers. but for now, it's up to ethiopia, sudan and egypt to navigate tensions on the world's longest river. it feels coal and crisp right now.
2:55 pm
but believe it or not, it is nowhere near as cold at the moment compared with what we are in for. a lot of sunshine today. this is where the cold air has reached central and western parts of europe. just about germany, the temperatures are below freezing by day. it is creeping into holland. the leading edge of this cold air mass won't arrive until around monday night into tuesday morning and probably not properly until wednesday. the winds are easterly and we are feeling the cold winds. by early on sunday morning in the middle of towns and cities
2:56 pm
temperatures will be below freezing. sunday we do it again. a lot of crisp sunshine. in some areas a bit of cloud from hull to newcastle, possibly and edinburgh and aberdeen. these are the temperatures, ones, twos and threes and with the wind it will feel colder. these are the maximum temperatures. when will the snow arrive? the first snow will reach the east monday morning. initially they will be light and through the afternoon you can see a trail of snow showers, the wind will push them inland. look at the day time temperature. at lunchtime barely above freezing, even in the tip of cornwall it will feel like it is below freezing. a wintry start for some of us, but not for
2:57 pm
everyone. later on tuesday into wednesday the snow showers across the uk will become more widespread and the temperatures will drop and the winds will strengthen and it will feel bitterly cold. that cold airall the will feel bitterly cold. that cold air all the way from russia has swept into the atlantic and we are in that cold air mass and the snow showers will come and for some the snow could be disruptive and by the end of the week some areas could have a lot of snow. this is bbc news. i'm annita mcveigh. the headlines: more than 500 people have been killed in a week in the rebel—held enclave of eastern ghouta in syria. the un will vote on a ceasefire resolution this evening. the red cross becomes the latest aid charity to become embroiled in scandal after revealing that 21 staff paid for sexual services whilst working for them. a man and woman have appeared in court charged with causing the death of two young brothers by dangerous driving in coventry.
2:58 pm
also in the next hour: britain is set for the coldest february week in five years as freezing air arrives from russia. dubbed the beast from the east, the cold snap will affect the whole of the uk with temperatures in some areas expected to drop to minus—eight.
2:59 pm
3:00 pm


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on