Uganda: High-Water Levels in Lake Victoria May Also Affect White Nile in Sudan

Kampala — Uganda has warned of an alarming increase in the water level of Lake Victoria. Ugandan Minister of Water and Environment Sam Cheptoris told reporters earlier this week that the water level of Lake Victoria has risen to its highest level. This may lead to floods in South Sudan and Sudan. The impact for the people living along the White Nile in Sudan is exacerbated by the ongoing war that has debilitated many state services.

Lake Victoria receives water from 23 rivers across the region, which are currently experiencing El Niño rains. The water level in Uganda's largest lake has increased to 13.66 meters, up from 13.5 meters in 2020, Minister Cheptoris reported on Tuesday. He warned communities living on the shores of lakes and riverbanks of imminent flooding, the Chinese Xinhua news agency reported a day later.

The Ugandan government has been forced to release more water into the White Nile, which increases the possibility of flooding in South Sudan and Sudan. The impact for the people living along the White Nile in Sudan is exacerbated by the more than 13-month-old war that debilitated many state services, including the Nile water level monitoring stations.

This is reflected in the situation at the Jebel Aulia dam south of Khartoum, the only reservoir in the country engineers of the ministry of irrigation and water resources do not have access to.

The Jebel Aulia reservoir and surrounding areas have become a military operations site of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) since last November, when the paramilitary group took control of the area. Attempts of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) to regain the dam failed so far.

Fears are mounting of the risks that could expose the southern and northern areas of Jebel Aulia locality in southwest Khartoum, due to the lack of control over the drainage of the reservoir. Especially when the water of the White Nile rises during the coming rainy season (May-June to September). The increased volume of Lake Victoria will worsen the situation.

In February, the Sudan News Agency (SUNA) reported that the Ministry of Infrastructure and Urban Development of White Nile state completed protective measures in El Kawa, as rising water levels began affecting residential areas along the river.

Radio Dabanga has succeeded in contacting water engineers and other specialists in Sudan on the subject, but will continue its efforts to reach them to elaborate on this worrying development.

Before the start of the COP27 climate summit in Egypt in end 2022, AFP warned of droughts, increased temperatures, and a slow tilt in the Earth's axis that would also impact Lake Victoria, the Nile's biggest source of water after rainfall. It would mean that Sudan's food and energy security, its ecosystems and people's lives and livelihoods, and that of its neighbours, will come under severe threat.

Blue Nile

In Ethiopia, an earthquake struck the area near the Gilgel Gibe III dam on the Omo River in the south of the country on May 13. The same area was hit by a similar earthquake in November.

This prompted analysts to warn again about the danger of dams built in earthquake-prone areas in Ethiopia. Especially the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) at the source the Blue Nile in the western part of the country has been and still is a matter of great dispute between Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia.

A major earthquake leading to the collapse of dams in the Ethiopian plateau would submerge large areas of Sudan along the Blue Nile and Nile River, endangering the lives and livelihoods of millions of Sudanese. It may also cause the destruction of the Roseires and Sennar reservoirs that do not have the capacity to absorb the quantities of water stored behind Ethiopian dams, especially the GERD, which can store 74 billion cubic meters of water.

Other experts have downplayed these risks, saying they are exaggerated.

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