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Seasonal Water Management for Semiarid Areas

Sudan - Upper Atbara Dam
and Gash River:

For the Sudan Development Region, two projects are investigated within the framework of the research project, 1) the Upper Atbara dam project and 2) the Gash River in Kassala. The multipurpose project Upper Utbara dam project is currently the largest infrastructure project which is under construction in Sudan. It will be an important pillar after completion in 2017 for the country's development. The primary objective of the project is the storage and availability of water for the Upper Atbara 300,000-hectare irrigation scheme and for 150,000 hectares of existing irrigation area of New Halfa and using this water for generation of 320 MW of environmentally friendly electric power. In addition, the Gadaref region will be supplied with 75 million liters of clean drinking water per day from the storage. The need for food production and the demand for electricity for industrial consumers and households for the rapidly growing population are two of the most important challenges in Sudan. The project is located about 400 km east of the capital Khartoum and close to the Ethiopian border, about 20 km upstream the confluence of the two rivers Upper Atbara and Setit. It includes the Rumela Dam on the Upper Atbara (Fig.4) and the Burdana Dam on Setit. The Rumela Dam will have a height of 55 meters and the Burdana Dam on Setit will have a height of 50 meters. The two dams are connected by a 13 km-long earth bulk dam that crosses both rivers. The double dam project is thus an overall reservoir with a capacity of 2.7 billion cubic meters of water at a maximum water level of 521.0 meters above sea level. The project involves the construction of a hydroelectric power plant at Rumela Dam with a total installed capacity of 320 MW as well as an outlet building to control the irrigation and water supply. The storage management needs a very comprehensive consideration, since different, partly competing aspects have to be considered, such as the timely lowering of the reservoir water level before the annual flood in order to minimize sediment deposits in the dugout while at the same time sufficient water has to be provided for the irrigation.

 Abb. 4: Upper Utbara dam , Sudan

The second project refers to the Gash, one about 440 km long river which rises south-west of Asmara Central Eritrea and then flows to the south. It partly forms the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia, but then flows further west through Eritrea and into Sudan. There, it flows through the province and city of Kassala and usually seep into the eastern Sudanese plains. The Gash is dry for much of the year, but is subject to sudden floods during the rainy season. These floods lead to devastating effects. Thus, the Sudan Tribune reported on 25 August 2007 that caused to agriculture in the eastern state of Kassala floods such severe damage that is assumed that food security will be seriously affected. In addition, around 90 people in Sudan were killed and destroyed more than 70,000 homes. In other years too, the Gash has led to severe flooding, most recently during the flood in 2016.

This project was financed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research under the financial assistance agreement No 02WGR1421.


Karlsruhe Institute of
Technology (KIT)

Campus Alpin - Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK-IFU)


Prof. Dr. Harald Kunstmann

Kreuzeckbahnstrasse 19
82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen