On July 21, 1970, Aswan Dam or what is also referred to Aswan High Dam became a part of Egypt’s history. The dam is located between Sudan and Egypt with its water coming from the Nile River while the reservoir it creates forms Lake Nasser.
Although the annual flooding of the Nile was essential to water the crops in the farmlands, the different levels of flooding was also not good for agriculture. High water levels for years destroyed the crops while low water level brought drought and famine. Thus, attempts to create a dam were made.
Despite the good intentions behind building the 111-meter dam, however, contentions still ensue about its existence.
List of Pros of Aswan Dam
1. It is a great water irrigation source.
Before its construction, water from the Nile would flow to the Mediterranean Sea. With the presence of the dam, water is now used to irrigate the farms. It also prevented drought and made it possible to use hectares of what used to be desert as agricultural land.
2. It is used for hydroelectricity.
Just like any other dams worldwide, electricity was produced because of hydropower. Half of Egypt’s electricity production came from the dam when the output was at its peak. In 1998, it contributed around 15% of Egypt’s total electricity production.
3. The Flooding Problem is controlled.
After the completion of the dam, the villages have been protected from flood and with regulation of the water, using the river as an industrial channel has become possible. It also helped to boost tourism along the Nile.
List of Cons of Aswan Dam
1. There was an effect in the fishing, agricultural and red-brick construction industries.
The construction of the dam led to a decline in the fishing industry. Since it was built, the nutrients from the river that used to flow to the sea were trapped, leaving lesser food for aquatic life. Also, the absence of flooding in Upper Egypt, the minerals that serve as fertilizers to farms were gone while sediment deposits along Nile which are used to make red bricks have been affected.
2. There is bad effect on health.
After Aswan Dam was built and irrigation canals existed, there was a problem about the stagnant water that have become a breeding ground for snails carrying a parasite known as bilharzia. Also, the prevalence of schistosomiasis became a threat.
3. It led to the erosion of Delta.
With the reduction of the supply of silt and sediments brought by annual floods, the Nile Delta suffered from soil erosion. As a result, reducing land area. Also, when the dam overflows, the trapped silt falls on the reservoir, reducing the area and its capacity to supply water and electricity.
Aswan Dam was built with good intentions and its construction has indeed become instrumental in the industrialization of Egypt. However, just like in other new developments and changes, there are also consequences. It is just a matter of ensuring the pros outweigh the cons.