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tv   Damming The Nile  BBC News  February 25, 2018 12:30am-1:01am GMT

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the latest headlines: after days of delays, the un security council has passed a resolution calling for a 30 day humanitarian ceasefire across syria. the 15 member council voted to allow aid deliveries and medical evacuations. democrats in the us have released a long—awaited memo, which counters republican claims of fbi surveillance abuses. in a tweet, president trump called the memo "a total political and legal bust". us airlines, delta and united have joined a growing list of companies cutting ties with the national rifle association, following the school shooting in florida. the nra has hit back, accusing a number of companies of cowardice. thousands of people have joined rival rallies in italy, as the country counts down to an election in just over a week. now on bbc news, it's damming the nile. the river nile is the world's longest river.
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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. some of these paintings
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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 floodplains through sudan and egypt, and emerges out into the delta of the mediterranean
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sea. around 85% of that water comes 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's 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. and ethiopia didn't even ask the countries downstream before it started building.
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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's costing at least $4.5 billion and that's probably an underestimate. he insists that downstream countries shouldn't worry as it's not consuming any water. this project is a hydroelectric project. it's a 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, joining two mountains to create the edge of a vast reservoir. all this and a lot
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more will be flooded. 0nce finished and filled, it'll 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's 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's holding back the country's grand plans for development and it's 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 able to create jobs
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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 as 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. protests across the country
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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 opportunity for us to develop our service. and our energy development. it has a lot of benefit for the downstream countries. basically.
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construction on the dam is going on around the clock, such is the urgency to get this build and generate power, but because ethiopia didn't consult with egypt or sudan before starting construction work during the arab spring, talks with the 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're afraid of a war with egypt over water. that they might bomb this down. that's the level of anger. what do you think about that? i don't think so. they... these kind of extreme type of ideas are not welcome. this will not happen in this region, i am sure. there's no record in history which shows that war has erupted because of water. this 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 by ethiopia and that's a big concern
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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 that's 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's 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're 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 about a third of the way from its source to the sea and is growing and strengthening in size.
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so what does sudan, this vast country only now emerging from years of us sanctions, think about ethiopia building this dam upstream 7 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 local 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. 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
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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's wonderful. it's really 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,
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but they are very concerned about 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 that struck when she was a child.
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her father was mayor. 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 lasted three weeks. the whole village left, but now a dam upstream regulates the flow of water so it doesn't flood 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 big issues of the day are discussed. most people here are in favour
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of the ethiopian dam. our experience shows that it is a blessing towards downstream countries, especially if the intention is power generation. do you think there's politics between the changing fortunes of the three countries? i mean, water in general is becoming highly politicised, not only in this region but elsewhere, but i think there will always be a political case involving the three countries, if the political will is around in 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
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across the whole region are growing as a result of it. the rivalries go back 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. well, 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 temples are all around us, it is
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630 in the morning, the sun is coming up. it's a stunning way to see this country. 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 the history at luxor, we will follow the river north to cairo and onto the delta, the heart of the country's agriculture, where water really 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. you don't take something so set
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in stone and accept another country damming the nile upstream and threatening your lifeline. the ancient egyptians, they considered the nile as lifeblood. actually, we can say that the nile to the ancient egyptians 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 allowed vast agricultural lands to be indicated. tens of thousands of nubian people
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were forced from their homes 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 fish, we grow crops on the islands in the nile. our cattle are fed from the nile. all our food is from the nile. wahbi has heard about the dam in the egyptian media. that ethiopia wants to control the nile and its flow will be affected, but he's sceptical. they say the water won't be
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affected, but 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. the second threat is the unilateral action in the upstream countries. building infrastructure without consideration of the downstream in
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the pact, the impact. this is a mother co—ordinated one. how angry are you? i am extremely angry because we are responsible for our nation, which is 100 million. just one of the key thing that i would mention to you, if the water coming to egypt is reduced by 2%, what does this mean? loss about 200,000 acres of land. one acre at least. makes one family survive. a family in egypt, the average family in egypt is five persons, so it means1 million will bejobless. he says that means more migrants heading to europe and more people to be recruited by terror groups. all 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? so it is an international security issue. experts say egypt has the right to be angry. a dam was being discussed but ethiopia started building without telling egypt
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judging the arab spring. the impact downstream has not been properly assessed and although the great ethiopian renaissance dam or gerd won't extract water when it's finished, it 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 river runs through the nile delta
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where its famous cotton is grown 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 sinking as the dams upstream stop the fertile silk from replenished the nile upstream, the reason the nile flood plains were so productive to begin with. it is now polluted and fish are dying and people saltwater is moving gradually upstream. it is sad to see how this great river ends up. well, 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. it's not an idea or a plan, it's a thing.
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it can already control the flow of the river nile. egypt has was been strong enough to dominate the countries upstream but that is changing. in terms of talk of war, that's always a very self—defeating and 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 what can be avoided. —— 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. hello there.
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if you were in the sunshine outside the wind yesterday, it didn't feel too bad. but it will get colder — not necessarily today. in fact, it will be pretty much the same as yesterday. we have a stronger wind in the south. but the wind is getting stronger and the air is getting colder as we pull this cold air in from eastern europe into next week. so, yes, a cold start for our sunday morning, —5, —6 in the countryside, so maybe a little bit of frost around, some frost on the cars, even a little low cloud to clear, but that should clear quickly. the main changes through the day are a little more cloud for eastern parts of england and eastern scotland, so maybe a bit grey and cold here, even the odd snow flurry, but in contrast, we may see more sunshine than yesterday for western scotland, northern ireland and the far south of cornwall. but there will be a stronger breeze here so more of a wind chill. it won't be a warm day anyway, as you can see, and especially
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so for the eastern side of england and scotland. the wind is stronger for england and wales but it does pick up in the week further north. and then it gets interesting through the coming night. look at this — the risk of snow showers. and they will be snow showers because look at how cold the air is again through the coming night. so as they come into the cold air, they will fall as snow. so it is likely we will see the first of our snow showers. several centimetres in a few places during the course of monday. again, the details will be quite difficult in the coming few days, but perhaps eastern scotland, eastern counties of england, the midlands as well at risk on monday, as well as southern coastal counties of england, possibly the east of northern ireland as well. so those of the areas most at risk of a few centimetres of snow. it certainly will not be a warm day. we lose the sunshine, so it will fill even colder because the wind is strengthening, especially for england and wales on monday. so yes, a notch colder, if you like. that is how it will feel. and then, the risk of disruption rises through monday night into tuesday with a more widespread
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area of snow coming in. again, the details are quite elusive as to where this snow is going to fall but there will be several centimetres, even at lower levels, such is the chilliness of the air with plenty of snow showers packing in behind as well. so i think tuesday, wednesday look like we will see significant disruptions of snow. temperatures falling away as well. we're losing the sunshine, the air is getting colder, the winds are getting stronger so the wind chill becomes pretty severe from midweek onwards. as well as that snow — the snow will be blowing around, so you can see how deep and cold that air is. so for the middle of next week onwards, the wind chill becomes quite severe, we could have disruptive snow of course before then, bitter winds. yes, there will be sunshine, still best in the west, but the warnings are there are on our website. welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. my name is nkem ifejika. our top stories this hour: after days of wrangling, the un security council passes a resolution calling for a 30—day ceasefire across syria. a list of 105 names of missing nigerian girls is released by their parents, following their
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suspected abduction by boko haram jihadists. hello and welcome to bbc news. after days of deadlock, the un security council has unanimously voted for an immediate 30—day ceasefire across syria.
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