Jonglei Canal project may hold great potential for South Sudan

August 2, 2011 (NSV) - Using the 9th of July as baseline, the newly independent nation of South Sudan is busily charting new paths that will include rolling out of bold infrastructural projects.

But it is doing so without forgetting legacy projects that are part of the north-south civil

One such proejct, the Jonglei Canal, was started in 1978 by Sudanese government as a means for channelling additional water from the Nile River for use in north Sudan and Egypt.

But the leadership of the Sudan People's Liberation Movment or SPLA saw that as another way of robbing the South of its resources, nothwithstanding both the enviromental and humanitarian consequences that posed to the local population.

The Canal was thus stopped in its tracks by the SPLA, at the earliest months of the war.

Bucketwheel, the giant machine from France that excavated the Canal, stood idlly for 28 years in the plains of what is now the Jonglei state.

Now, barely a month after South Sudan declared independence from Sudan, sources have said that the new nation is poised to resume the Jonglei Canal project. However, there are great concerns about environmental and social consequences of the canal project as it can drain up the Sudd, one of the largest freshwater wetland in the world and the largest wetland in the Nile valley. 

 Egypt and Sudan have always had the greatest share of Nile water and the two nations are fretting about the addition of South Sudan to the Nile River Basin.

Since the 1929 Nile Basin agreement, Egypt has always benefited by getting three times as much as the rest of 11 countries. That equation and politics of Nile water may change with the independence of South Sudan.

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