When Progress Isn't Progress

Online petition - Stop the Dams in Sudan!

The two seasons I dug in Sudan were as part of the salvage campaign before the new Merowe Dam at the 4th Cataract was completed and the reservoir it formed filled, flooding the area.

We got to see first hand what that meant for the people who lived in the area.  They were resettled in places not of their own choosing, on land unfamiliar to them, and in areas unsuitable to farming as they were accustomed.

It is unlikely any of them will ever see any great benefit from the dam itself.  The hydroelectric power it produces is intended primarily for Egypt and the money earned from that will go to the dictator in power in Khartoum.

In response to attempts to negotiate different terms of resettlement or a different time-line for construction and flooding, people were killed by state police.  Flooding was begun ahead of schedule, narrowly avoiding harm to those who remained in the area.

The new dams proposed will not be different.  They will not be a source of benefit for the people they displace.  They will be a way to enrich a dictatorial, genocidal regime headed by Bashir.  They are a way for foreign interests to endear themselves further to Bashir and his cronies for their own enrichment and access to oil and mineral wealth. They will also provide a convenient opportunity to displace the remainder of the Nubian ethnic group who managed to hang on to their tradition territory and way of life even in the face of the Aswan Dam built in the 1960s and the ongoing campaign and bias against them in Sudan and Egypt. 

Candidly, no one in power is likely to give a damn if you read the petition or sign it.  But I think as fellow human beings, we at least owe the people likely to be displaced a moment of thought and sympathy.  And maybe a small hope that things might change. 

It will be people like this kid.  And places like that run-down goat pen.  And while you might say that being placed in brand new constructed villages will make things better for them, remember that they don't get a choice.  They don't get input into how the villages are arranged or where they're placed.  And if they try to complain or negotiate, they're as likely to be shot or beaten to death as they are given a fair hearing.


Alwen said...

I'm clicking sucktastic, because that IS. (Not meaning your post is sucktastic.) Grrr.

Shoveling Ferret said...

I perfectly understand. It is sucktastic. If only we could have a cage match with all the worlds asshole, murdering dictators. "Winner" gets eaten by fire ants.