“This project weathered many challenges, including drought, political unrest and staff shortages,” says Nasser Harrasy, Regional Manager East & West Africa. “However, we eventually were able to fully deliver on a project that has made an enormous difference to Sudanese farmers.”
This project is the heightening of the Roseires Dam. Located on the Blue Nile River at Ad Damazin, the dam was originally built in 1966 for irrigation purposes. The Blue Nile River is the lifeblood of farming communities, providing the bulk of the water that is available for irrigation in Sudan. With Sudan’s economy heavily dependent on agriculture, a sector that employs over 80% of the country’s work force and accounts for nearly 40% of GDP, prosperity depends on skilfully using the waters of the iconic Nile Rivers.
The project increased the height of the Roseires Dam by 10 meters, swelling its hydroelectric production capacity by 50% and more than doubling the reservoir volume (3,000 million m3 to 7,400 million m3).
The original designers of the Roseires Dam made provision for its expansion, knowing that it would need to eventually be heightened to increase storage capacity for further irrigation and to service the local villages’ growing water needs. By the 1990s, tender documents for the dam heightening were prepared and construction began. However, work ceased in the early 2000s due to a lack of project funding, with only 7% of the works completed.
Despite this protracted beginning, SMEC began reviewing the design and tender documents in 2006, and later brought together a team with local and international dam expertise to supervise the construction of the US$440 million project. The project increased the height of the Roseires Dam by 10 meters, swelling its hydroelectric production capacity by 50% and more than doubling the reservoir volume (3,000 million m3 to 7,400 million m3).
The expansion of the Roseires Dam means that farmers can not only pump enough water to irrigate their crops during the hottest months in Sudan, but they can do so faster and more efficiently. The heightened water level of the Blue Nile means that pumps can operate without loading and heating, reducing the energy consumed. Other new income opportunities, including fishing and animal husbandry, were created.
More than a million acres of extra farmlands in the fields below the dam in eastern and central Sudan are now receiving gravity irrigation, a major step in meeting the demand for water supply in the country’s national farming projects.
Roseires Dam Heightening
Dams Implementation Unit, Sudan