Merowe Dam, Sudan

The Merowe/Hamadab hydroelectric and irrigation Dam on the River Nile in Sudan, the largest hydro project in Africa, was completed in 2009. Its reservoir has displaced some 70,000 people, mainly from the Manasir ethnic group. The majority of those affected refused to move from their land alongside the Nile, even though their houses have been flooded. Those who did move to "resettlement" sites in the Nubian desert are now reliant on food aid, and their protests against conditions in the sites have been met with armed force.

The Government of Sudan awarded the major contracts for equipment and project management to three European companies: Germany's Lahmeyer International, France's Alstom and Switzerland's ABB. The main construction work was undertaken by a Chinese joint venture company established between China International Water & Electric Corp, and China National Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Corporation.

The Merowe Dam will continue to have profound social and environmental impacts. Implementation to date has been characterised by human rights abuses, forced resettlement, illegality and a failure to abide by international standards or to conduct adequate environmental impact studies. The UN Rapporteur for Adequate Housing issued a damning statement on Merowe in August 2007. Nonetheless, the companies involved consistently failed to use their influence to halt the Dam's implementation until issues surrounding its impacts wee resolved, responses (or lack of) that are hard to reconcile with their corporate rhetoric of commitments to uphold human rights. Such reluctance might be interpreted as arising less from neutrality ("we are simply contractors") as from a deliberate decision to turn a blind eye to Merowe's impacts.

For more background on the Merowe Dam and its impacts, please follow these external links: