By Koang Tut Jing
Just after three years of Sudan’s independent the suggestion of constructing canal in Jonglei popped up in 1958 to increase the amount of water reaching Egypt. This of course ignored the negative effects the canal would create against the local people. Despite the internal problems the Jonglei Canal would cause Nimeiri’s Government along with his agents in the south curbed in to Egyptians desire.
Frankly, Egyptians have nothing to offer us rather than sucking our blood for their survival. Egypt was the first country to recognise the NIF when they took over through coup, what good do Egyptians have for us? I am sceptical if there is a single Egyptian who thinks Sudanese are humans as they are. It is the reason why we have been under threat in the past and still today not escaped from it. Our country was invaded several times during the ruin of Queen Sheba at the time of Roman rule of Nero due to the Nile water. The Egyptians fears of Nile waters one day no longer reach them still exist and will eventually spark war. Egypt still willing to solve Nile water problem militarily in order to keep it dominant over the rest in the region. My dear fellows Sudanese, it would be fatal mistake if the leaders in Juba again curbed in to baseless pressure from Egypt in expenses of Jonglei citizens. The reason being is because the effects of Jonglei Canal on the Sudd Swamps will not only severe the normal lives of our citizens but the beautiful plants as well as the sanctuaries for our bird species will be gone.
We know the Nile discharges its water into the great wetland of the Sudd or the network of lakes, channels, and swamps. The canal is designed to bypass the Sudd and direct downstream a proportion of the water to Egypt leaving our Sudd dry. According to them they think the water from the Nile that discharges into our Sudd is termed as “lost by spill and evaporation in the swamps” which I strongly dispute because of the following factors:
1. The process of seasonal inundation from river flooded grassland produces species of grasses that sustain our livestock and the wild life during the driest months. Where shall our pastoralists go if their Sudd is drained by this canal? We have no other option when the grasses of high land are exhausted and no regrowth after burning. Clearly, the Jonglei Canal is meant to destroy our pastoralists’ economy. Given that fact I think every Jonglei citizen has to stand up in defend of our right against the robbers.
2. A severe decrease in discharge into the Sudd resulting from the Jonglei Canal would cause the total disappearance of many lakes in the papyrus zone. This would amount to serious lost of fishing which the Canal cannot provide because of it depth adversely affecting the establishment of fisheries. Why do we have to punish innocents this way if we are genuinely representing their interest? For this Kiir and his circle must think critically before becoming another Abel Alier.
3. The Annual floods capable of inundating are crucial to the maintenance of biological diversity in the Sudd. We have a white pelican, cyperus papyrus, other animals and other plant species which are economically important in term of tourists attraction will be destroyed by the creation of this canal as their sanctuary will be drained.
4. Jonglei Canal can drastically affect the climate, the groundwater, recharges, salt and water quality, the destruction of fish and changes our tradition lifestyle.
5. This Canal can become a barrier between villages, and dry season grazing land as well as dislocate the pastoral cycle.