Dam project to improve water access in Nuba mountains

3 July (IRIN)

The local authorities in the Nuba mountains region of Sudan are developing plans to build 22 small to medium dams over the next two years to improve access to limited water supplies in the region.

The dams would provide "enormous benefits" to an estimated 400,000 people in the region, said Dr Ahmed Saeed, Chairman of the Policy Advisory Committee which coordinates relief to the region.

The locally-based initiative, developed by the Nuba Relief, Rehabilitation and Development Organisation, is already underway with the construction of two dams in Rashad county since April 2003. "The two that are being built will give the other communities the impetus to get involved," said Saeed.

The dams are expected to significantly improve access to water for drinking, livestock, vegetable growing, and fish farming, as well as recharging the ground water table.

Currently, women are walking for between four and eight hours to collect water for their families, after which they have to join long queues at water points. During the dry season from March to June, many of the existing boreholes in the region are totally dried up, Saeed told IRIN.

Sean White, an environment and natural resources consultant, emphasised the need for sanitation interventions alongside the dam building, as well as the judicious siting of the dams to avoid the spread of malaria and other water-born diseases such as bilharzia, diarrhoea, guinea worm and typhoid.

The initiative is especially suited to the mountainous region because of its many valleys and depressions, which are ideal for collecting rain water.