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Aswan High Dam, Egypt

Fifty years after the course of the Nile River was diverted for the construction of the Aswan High Dam, the people of Nuba in southern Egypt are still demanding the right to return and resettle on the banks of Lake Nasser.


Nubians have been waiting decades to return to their homeland around Lake Nasser on the banks of the Nile, but Egyptian authorities have other plans for much of the land. Many people were forced out of their villages in the 1960s when the Aswan High Dam was built. Much of the area is under water now, but what remains is literally the Nubians' promised land: The government pledged they would be able to return. However, the government announced in October 2016 that the land was for sale to Egyptian and foreign investors, as well as farmers. [1]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Aswan High Dam, Egypt
State or province:Aswan Governorate
Location of conflict:Aswan
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Water
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Aswan High Dam is a rock-fill dam located at the northern border between Egypt and Sudan. The dam is fed by the River Nile and the reservoir forms Lake Nasser. Construction for the project began in 1960 and was completed in 1968. It was officially inaugurated in 1971. The total investment for constructing the dam reached $1bn. With a reservoir capacity of 132km³, the Aswan High Dam provides water for around 33,600km of irrigation land. It serves the irrigation needs of both Egypt and Sudan, controls flooding, generates power, and helps in improving navigation across the Nile.

Level of Investment for the conflictive project1,000,000,000.00
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:100,000
Start of the conflict:09/01/1960
Company names or state enterprises:The Arab Contractors (Osman Ahmed Osman & Co.) (AC) from Egypt - Construction
RusHydro (RusHydro) from Russian Federation
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Amnesty International:
Nubia Project:
Nubian Return Caravan:
Nubian Union:
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Human rights organizations, Nubian Union,
Forms of mobilization:Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Infectious diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Land dispossession
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Violent targeting of activists
Proposal and development of alternatives:- That Cairo reject the annexation of the Nubian Forkund villages to the 1.5 million feddans project.
- Excluding the region from the lands offered to investors.
- Amending the 2014 Presidential Decree 444 that considers the lands of 16 Nubian villages on the border to be military zones.
- Asking the parliament to expedite the implementation of Article 236 of the constitution, which says “the state shall work on developing and implementing projects to bring back the residents of Nubia to their original areas and develop them within 10 years in the manner organized by law.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[4] - Aswan High Dam Resettlement of Egyptian Nubians, 2016

Authors: Scudder, Thayer
[click to view]

[1] - Two dozen of Egypt's Nubians arrested for protesting, face hearing - Al-Monitor - October 2, 2017
[click to view]

[2] - استمرار حبس 24 نوبيا في مصر بسبب مسيرة بدون تصريح

Imprisonment of 24 Nubian activists in Egypt because of unlicensed protesting - Reuters - September 6, 2017
[click to view]

[3] - Egypt: Release 24 Nubian activists detained after protest calling for respect of their cultural rights - Amnesty International - September 12, 2017
[click to view]

[5] - Egypt’s Nubians protest for right to return to their lands - Al-Monitor - November 22, 2016
[click to view]

[6] - Nubians give Egyptian government deadline - Al-Monitor - December 8, 2016
[click to view]

Meta information
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3182
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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