THE SENNAR DAM.
o Lord Lloyd, who is High Commissioner for the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan as well as for Egypt, has officially opened the great weir across the Blue Nile at Makwar, near Sennar. It is entirely appropriate that the first official visit to the Sudan of the High Commissioner, who when Governor of Bombay was associated with the great barrage on the Indus which bears his name, should have been marked by this important ceremony. The new dam is yet another link in the vast and still incomplete chain of weirs, storing and holding the fertilizing waters of the Nil?, which are the proud monuments of the foresight of British administrators and of the skill of British engineers. From Zifita in the Middle Delta the chain runs south. The towns of Assiut and Aswan have given their names to famous dams. Little more than live years ago a Nile Commission, members of which were nominated by the Governments of Egypt and of the United States and by the University of Cambridge, gave its decisive voice in favour of a vast scheme for regulating the water I supply not only of Egypt, but of the whole Nile Valley. Of this scheme the Sennar Dam is the firstfruit. Its purpose is the control of the irregular flow of the Blue Nile and the storage of sufficient water for the irrigation of the great plain of the Gezira between the White and the Blue Niles. In certain Egyptian Nationalist circles, always prone to suspect British intentions, the cry has been raised that the new barrage will divert water needed by Egyptian agriculture to the cultivation of Sudanese cotton. Last January, however, the British Government gave the Egyptian Prime Minister a formal assurance that the Sudan Government would not give effect to its previous instructions regarding the unlimited development of the Gezira which had been authorized in the ultimatum which followed Sir Lee Stack's murder. Moreover, the decision to resume work on the barrage at Gebel Aulia on the White Nile above _ Khartum should finally allay fears which have never been based on knowledge. The weir at Gebel Aulia will, when completed, | well nigh double the quantity of water available at Aswan, and the vast mass of water which it will jylll be reser ved'iof~TlTe~£gyp~ tian summer crops. If in the future the last and most ambitious part of the programme approved by the Nile Commission be carried out, a barrage in the heart of Africa at the northern extremity of Lake Albert will create a reservoir of unparalleled dimensions sufficient to meet all possible remaining needs of Egypt and to irrigate wide regions of the Sudan.
The completion of the Sennar Dam marks the beginning of a new era in the history of the Sudan. For nearly a generation this vast territory has been gradually recovering from the depopulation and devastation which it endured under Mahdist rule. Its economic progress, if steady, has been necessarily slow. It was to some extent delayed by the uncertainty which long prevailed as to the suitability of the soil and climate of the great irrigable plain of the Gezi'a for the cultivation of the better qualities of cotton. These doubts were laid to rest by the discovery that, while the excessive sum-
mer heat was unfavourable to th
cotton plant, it was possible to sow
the cotton in late autumn, when there was abundance of water, and
to pick the crop in spring. By 1914 the Sudan Loan Act had been passed
by the British Parliament; a series of successful, experiments in cotton growing had baen carried out in the Gezira; the necessary railway construction had been completed; all, in fact, was ready, when the. outbreak of the Great War suspended all construction until 1921. The cost of the dam and of the network of canals which it will- supply is being met by the loans raised in this country by the Sudan Government under British Government guarantee both before and since the war. The system of profit-sharing between the Sudan Government, the Sudan Plantations Syndicate, which has cooperated with it in experimental and commercial cotton cultivation for many years, and the cultivators under which the first concession of 300,000 acres is to be carried on appears very equitable. It will be .remembered that Mr Mac Donald, when Prime Minister, was able to meet certain Parliamentary criticisms of the Treasury guarantee in respcct of the loan for the completion of the project by furnishing evidence that the terms of the concession protected the interests both of the consumer and of the cultivator. The value Of the dam to the Sudan Government, which will, receive :.io per cent, of the total proceeds of the. cotton crop, needs no explanation. Its importance to the Empire
is equally great. Sudanese cotton production, which has more than trebled since 1919, is cxpccled to expand enormously in the near future ; and this expansion, with that expected in other parts of the Empire, and eventually in Iraq, should protect Lancashire against the economically disastrous of sharp fluctuations iin the American crop. The conversion of this region of the Sudan barren steppe inhabited by a few Jemi-nomad clans and their slaves to;,a thriving agricultural country will be one of the greatest of many, great British achievements in the African Continent.—"London Times."