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Information About the Benefit and Impact of the Aswan Dam

Information About the Aswan Dam
The Aswan High Dam in Egypt, an earthen embankment constructed over a period of ten years, was completed in 1970. It eliminated the cycle of drought and floods in the country, also making hydro power generation a huge success. Vacayholics takes you through more such interesting facts about this dam.
Rujuta Patil
Last Updated: Feb 26, 2018
Did You Know?
Although fisheries near the Egyptian coast had declined after the construction of the Aswan Dam, it has again increased since the 1980s, and the exact reason for this resurgence is still not known.
With a hot and dry climate, and a meager 2 to 3 mm of annual precipitation, Egypt totally relies on the Nile for water. Originating as the White Nile and Blue Nile, which meet at Khartoum in Sudan to be called the Nile, it flows towards the Mediterranean sea.

Aswan, or the ancient city of Swenett, is the capital of Aswan Governorate located in southern Egypt. An old dam that had reached its capacity and was rebuilt twice already, led the Egyptian government to build the Aswan Dam. It proved to be a bliss to the densely populated country of Egypt, with an arid climate, and scarce agricultural resources. Besides improving the economy through providing the people with land and employment, the dam also gave birth to some environmental problems.
Facts About the Aswan Dam
Aswan Dam Location on Map
Aswan Dam Location on Map, Egypt
Name: Aswan High Dam
Location: Egypt
River: Nile
Reservoir: Lake Nasser
Construction: 1960 to 1970
Height: 111 m (364 ft)
Width: 980 m (3,220 ft)
Length: 3,830 m (12,570 ft)
The actual name of the dam is Aswan High Dam. It is referred to as Al-Sadd al-ʿĀlī in Arabic.
It is a completely earthen embankment, constructed using stones, rock, and clay.
The Soviet Union had agreed to finance part of the huge embankment. It was a project designed by the Soviet Hydroproject Institute.
The toll received by Egypt after the nationalization of the Suez Canal lent some portion of the cost of building this dam.
The construction began on 9 January 1960, and was completed on 21 July 1970.
Around 25,000 engineers from Egypt contributed to the project.
The reservoir, Lake Nasser, is named after Gamal Abdel Nasser, a leader of the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, and the then President of Egypt. It spans across an area of over 5,000 square kilometers.
The total cost of construction amounted to approximately one billion dollars.
The Aswan Low Dam is an older construction built during the British rule in Egypt, between the period of 1898 to 1902.
The old dam was considered to be the largest masonry dam in the world then.
Today, the old dam controls the water downstream the Aswan High Dam.
Benefits of the Aswan Dam
Aswan High Dam, Egypt
Aswan High Dam, Egypt
- Egypt, although an arid region, has been increasingly populated mainly along the Nile. The Aswan Dam is the prime source for drinking water, electricity, agriculture, industry, and transportation.

- Floods in the Nile basin used to cause havoc by destroying farms, buildings, and settlements. This dam has been successful in controlling such overwhelming floods from the Nile.
- Storage of the flood water during the winter is utilized during the summer and throughout the year.

- Irrigation systems built have brought a large area of desert land under cultivation. Many farmers depend on it as a source of irrigation for their farms.
- After its construction, agricultural yield increased, as farmers were able to cultivate crops twice or thrice a year.

- The dam began power generation using twelve Soviet-made turbines, in 1967.
Aswan Hydroelectric Power Plant
Aswan Hydroelectric Power Plant
- In the initial years, it added up to almost half of the total electricity produced in Egypt, making many villages light up for the first time.

- Electricity generation from the Aswan hydroelectricity power plants nears around 7,393,700 MW.
Environmental Impact of the Aswan Dam
- Around a hundred thousand inhabitants, mostly Egyptian peasants and Sudanese Nubian nomads had to be rehabilitated to other regions for want of such a large area.

- The statue of Ramses the Great, from the 13th century B.C. temple complex of Abu Simbel, and many other archaeological monuments had to be shifted to save them from being flooded.
- Millions of tons of silt and rich nutrients are now obstructed by the dam, reducing the soil fertility of the land, especially in the Nile delta.

- Silt has accumulated at the bottom of the reservoir instead, leading to a reduction in its water storage capacity.
- Also, people began using chemical fertilizers due to the absence of natural nutrient-rich sediments, for a higher and better agricultural produce, which causes pollution through the runoff.

- The number of fish in the Nile basin receded greatly, especially at the Mediterranean coast of the river mouth after the construction of the dam.
- Decline in the anchovy populations in the eastern Mediterranean is attributed to a low-nutrient water flow.

- Since there is no flooding of the river now, migratory species of fish have reduced.

- A type of plant life flourishing in the reservoir supports snails. These snails are known to carry the parasite bilharzia, which causes schistosomiasis (a water-borne disease) in the local residents.