the nile

the world's longest river six thousand

six hundred and seventy one kilometers

in all bound for the mediterranean sea

traveling through ancient egypt the nile

annually became a great

brown rushing torrent peaking from


through october

in its wake came a gift of sediment

gathered from the ethiopian highlands

swirled into a rich thick black

these mud were a boon to farmers

throughout the nile valley


for three thousand years the mighty nile

shaped nearly every facet of egyptian


its sediment replenished the land its

waters fed irrigation trenches and


necessary to the growth of crops

some scholars believe that astrology

arose out of the need to predict

accurately the time and locations of the

annual nile flood

for just as the river nile could bring

growth and prosperity

it could snatch it away in devastating


by the 20th century egypt had taken

steps controlling the great river

making its gifts predictable and


in the early 1960s egyptian president

gamal abdul nasser

fostered the engineering of the azwan

high dam a massive structure

located six kilometers north of the old

aswan dam

built by the british in 1902

today the aswan high dams hydroelectric


provides about half of all egypt's

electric power

its massive walls help control the

flooding of the nile river

and man-made lake nasa provides a

controlled flow of water

in dry years


the nile valley now yields several

harvests a year instead of just one as a


egypt's agricultural income has

increased by 200 percent over the past

30 years

thank god we can grow oranges and citrus

fruits here

we also have bananas and dates

thanks to the aswan dam our lands are

protected against floods

and we have more arable land and more


yet for all its benefits the azwan high

dam has ushered in as many problems as

it has solutions

the aswan high dam project flooded many

rare archaeological sites

and force the removal of priceless

monuments from egypt's past

at a cost of over 40 million dollars

thousands of nubian farmers were


while their homes and culture were

drowned beneath lake nasa

containment of the nile at the aswan

high dam has drastically reduced the

flow of silt and sand to the nile delta

resulting in less nutrients for


artificial fertilizers must now be used

to replace missing natural nutrients

fertilizers which pollute the ground and


less water flowing downstream from the

great dam

has increased erosion of the shoreline

and allowed salt from the mediterranean

sea to creep inland

making soil and groundwater abnormally



diseases such as rift valley cattle

fever malaria

and elephantiasis are an effect of

reduced flow and stagnant water pools

as a result chlorine must now be added

to drinking water to prevent

widespread illness


most ominous of all pressure from the

sheer volume of water at lake nasa

leading to cracks in the high dam have

caused seepage to surrounding dry land

if the dam should break millions of

people downstream would be killed

and thousands of hectares of croplands