Heightening of Er-Rosaires Dam, A Fifty-Year-Old Dream

By: Ahmed Alhaj (Site Admin)

ER-ROSAIRES (SUDANOW)—The heightening of Er-Rosaires Dam enables the Sudan to utilize billions of cubic meters of wasted water and achieve an overall agricultural, economic and social development the country has been dreaming of for more than seven decades .

 The heightening of the Dam is considered among the most important development projects for increasing the water and electric power needed for the agricultural projects, because it provides a water stock  that meets the demand for the existing and future agricultural projects in addition to a constant electric-power supply .

The Dam heightening that was finished late last November and is scheduled to be inaugurated on the onset of the New Year in the context of 57th Independence Anniversary celebrations. It is designed to raise the water of the Dam’s lake from three billion to seven billion cubic meters.

The total cost of the heightening was around $420 million in local and foreign components made available by the Arab financing funds and institutions taking part in financing the projects.

The original height of 67 meters was up by 10 meters making the maximum height from the foundation 78

meters; while the dust embankments total 24.41 kilometers.


The Dam was designed in the 1940s to be executed in two phases, the first one 480 meters above sea level with a storage capacity of three billion cubic meters of water, while the second phase 490 meters above sea level with a storage capacity of 7.4 billion cubic meters of water.



word Er-Rosaires means the high land in the language of the Maban and Biron tribes of the region. It is also known as the compact rock after the numerous rammed rocks, while the natives call it the Nile bride.


Er-Rosaires Dam

It is a concrete dam that lies close to Er-Rosaires town, was built in 1952 over the Blue Nile at Ed-Damazin cataracts. The surrounding area is a flat land with some plateaus and high mountains that increase gradually southwards to the Ethiopian borders. It is a Savanna in climate with a thick vegetation cover. The annual average rainfall ranges between 900mm to 1250mm.  

The feasibility study of the Dam was conducted by Sir Alexander Jip & Partners Company in 1952. Preliminary surveys and studies confirmed the possibility of constructing a dam with a storage capacity of three billion cubic meters, as a first phase, that could be raised to 7.4 billion cubic meters in a later stage. The construction began in 1961 and finished in 1966 by the Italian Ampargilo Company as an executive contractor under the supervision of Sir Alexander Jip & Partners Company in collaboration with the French Queen A. Pele.

Heightening of the Dam

The second phase project of heightening the Dam began in April 2008 after the Government of Sudan signed an agreement with the Chinese Cino-Hydro Civil Engineering Company. The project is aimed at boosting the socio-economic development in the region and providing an additional stock of water for effecting further horizontal and vertical agricultural development expansion in addition to generating more hydro-electric power.

The heightening project was supervised by a commission of international experts using modern technologies to cope with the international dam standards. Taking part in the building were 2,000 alien workers beside a number of local manpower and nine local companies as sub-contractors. Experts in irrigation and economy regard the heightening of Er-Rosaires Dam as an economic development mainstay as it contributes to the agricultural expansion and upgrading the electric-power generation.


Irrigation of 2 million feddans

The heightening will contribute to expansion of irrigated farming and to generation of electric-power generation to raise it by 50% by supplying the national grid with a considerable volume of electricity, in addition to providing the agricultural area extending from the Blue Nile to the Gezira in central Sudan with irrigation water.   

The expert in water resources and former Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources, Dr. Yagoub Abu Shourah, views the Dam heightening as an important project for pushing the country’s economy forward. He commended the Ministry of Water Resources minister pointed out that the project was a dream of the engineers of the Ministry of Irrigation for its tremendous benefits.

 Enumerating the benefits gained by the Sudan, Dr. Abu Shourah said coming the top of these benefits is securing irrigation for the major agricultural schemes of the Gezira and Er-Rahad, particularly during the winter farming season. It also secures electricity during the scarcity periods, besides irrigation of more than 2 million feddans in greater Kenana and Er-Rahad, plus the possibility of establishing additional power generation stations.

The Resident Engineer of Er-Rosaires Dam Heightening Project, Khidir Mohamed Gassm al-Sid, said the heightening would provide water for irrigating a million feddans. The heightened Dam will put for use as of the next rainy season, Sid said, adding that the projects set to benefit from the Dam include Er-Rahad, Dindir and Er-Rosaires South projects. The first phase of implementation of the agricultural projects will begin with Er-Rosaires South and Dindir while the second phase includes Kenana project, according to Engineer Sid.

He indicated that the studies on the heightening project confirmed its economic feasibility, particularly with regards to electric power generation as the electricity production rose from 1,200 to 1,800 megawatts, while the acreage of the farms on the banks increased by 76,000 feddans, i.e.,100%.

A thousand tons of fish

The Resident Engineer said the water storage capacity has risen from 1.9 billion cubic meters to 6 billion cubic meters after the heightening process. This secures the water demands for the existing irrigated projects along the Blue Nile and helps in the horizontal expansion of the irrigated farming projects by 1.5 million feddans, he said. Those projects will help achieve local and regional food security and will encourage agricultural investment, Engineer Sid said, adding that the lake of the Dam would yield 1,000 tons of fish, an increase of 70% compared to the produce prior to the heightening operation.

Social development

The projects accompanying the heightening operation have achieved a number of economic and services development objectives on the national level, in general and the Blue Nile State level, in particular and have enhanced the educational process and an unprecedented development in a brief period of time.


The Minister of Water Resources and Electricity, Osama Abdulla, has described the heightening of Er-Rosaires Dam as a remarkable addition to the country’s socio-economic development. It adds 4.4 billion cubic meters to the water stock and increases the produced electricity by 50% besides doubling the farms along the banks; he said, adding that the heightening would have an impact on all dams along the Blue Nile and the main River Nile. The heightened Dam will offer 22,000 families a new way of life in the form of services, farming and fishing in addition to the accompanying projects in Ed-Damazin and Er-Rosaires, the Minister said.

He pointed out that the most important element of the project was affirming the national will-power, diligence and determination for achievement of the projects that bring about welfare to the people of Sudan, noting that the country is full of riches and opportunities.

The Ministry of Instruction and Education in the Blue Nile State, as represented by its Minister Abdul Aziz Mohamed Abbaker and directors of the different departments, stressed the positive impact of the heightened Dam on the educational performance. They concurred that assembling the affected villages into 12 model villages made it possible to construct new schools of an attractive educational environment that attracted the students and minimized the educational loss.

Regarding the accompanying services projects, Engineer Abu Bakr Abdul Rahim Siddeik, Director of the Technical Office of the General Administration of Preparatory Projects of the Dams Unit, said they have built 12 residential towns, seven of them on the east bank and five on the west bank. He added that they have, moreover, built two main towns each consisting of 3,000 houses, while each of the other towns consisted of 1,200 to 1,900 houses. Each town, Siddeik went on, has two basic schools, a Khalwah (a school for teaching Koran), a health center and a socio-cultural center, in addition to a total 36-km internal roads linking the quarters of each town together.

The water supply authority of Ed-Damazin said it has established a station for collecting the water of the different wells and pumping them in tanks with a capacity of 1,000 cubic meters plus other tanks with a capacity of 120 cubic meters and 18-km networks.

In Er-Rosaires city a complete water station was built on the Nile with a production capacity of 250 cubic meters per hour and a storage capacity of 1,000 cubic meters, in addition establishing a ground reservoir and a number of tanks in the outskirts of the city for reinforcement of the network, with a storage capacity of 1,000 cubic meters, in addition to a number of new 18-km long networks.  

Some 10 water collection dams have also been constructed in different parts of the Blue Nile State and two other dams in Ruru and Bot regions of a capacity of 6 million cubic meters have been rehabilitated. Moreover, 10 reservoirs, each with a capacity of 500,000 cubic meters have been established in different parts of the State.

The president of the herdsmen union in the State, Abdul Rahman Hassan Ahmed, voiced pleasure by the shepherds with the heightening of Er-Rosaires Dam, saying it would bring about prosperity for the people of the State. He said the herdsmen were also pleased with the grass that grew behind the lake and with allocation of a number of land-plots for the herdsmen.

The Resident Engineer said the project has provided job opportunities to the youths and other people of the State. He commended the people of the State for responding to the requirements of the project by vacating their lands, farms and lodgings for the general interest of the country, a matter which he said has made it possible to finish the work on schedule. The Resident Engineer also praised the compensations committee which he said has played a positive role in reaching agreement between the land proprietors and the administration in charge of compensations for the affected people.  

Commercial activity

Lying in the vicinity of the borderline with Ethiopia (about 60 km away), Er-Rosaires occupies a strategic position that makes of it a border trade city. This position can be reinforced in case of revival of the railroad linking the city with Sennar and from there with the capital Khartoum to the north and Port Sudan to the east via Wad Medani, Kassala and Gedaref cities.

A number of the inhabitants of Ed-Damazin city hailed the Dam heightening project, saying it would reactivate the commercial and economic life of their city.

Haitham Khidir, a wholesale merchant in Ed-Damazin market, predicted that the project would directly affect the commercial activity through the influx of additional money in the markets in view of the numerous villages which have been assembled as a result of the heightening of the Dam.

Mahmoud Ali Ahmed, another merchant, said the security stability in the State and the vitality that was created by the project enhanced the economic and commercial activity in

the city.


The trading activity is growing steadily, said Rudhwan Al-Sayyed, an inhabitant of the city, adding that the project has affected all walks of life, especially the roads which have been asphalted by the Dams Implementation Unit.

Touristic boom

Tourism in the region will be boosted due to the stability that follows the heightening of the Dam, in a number of tourist attractions like the Jebel Lake, Ginais Heights East, Mango Village and Dindir Park. Moreover, Er-Rosaires Dam and its lake have become prominent landmarks besides the Blue Nile banks which are lined with gigantic siris trees and which are frequented by both dwellers and visitors of the region for enjoying the shady places by the river. The tourist attractions also include Er-Rosaires nursery and the Governor’s Palace building.

Everyone is now eagerly waiting for the moment when the heightening will be inaugurated by the President of the Republic on January 1st when the Sudan will go into a new stage of progress towards a sustainable development.

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Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...


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