For many centuries, people in Egypt suffered from either too little water or too much.  Some years there would be drought, and there was not enough water to grow the crops or to use for everyday life.  Other years there was so much water that the great Nile River would flood, destroying the crops and washing away the fertile land.  The people of Egypt needed to find a way to manage the water from the Nile River so that they had just the right amount all the time.

The answer to these problems was the dam.  The dam would need to do three things:  control the floods of the Nile River, store the water from the floods so that it could be released at a slower rate, and generate hydroelectric power.  The Soviets helped the people of Egypt to design and build the granite dam, which is 3.26 km (2.3 miles) in length, and rises 111 m (364 feet) above the Nile River base. The dam was built about 13 km (8 miles) south of the Egyptian city of Aswan, and was named the Aswan High Dam.  The Soviets also provided the hydroelectric equipment used in the power station.  It took ten years to build the dam, at a cost of $1 billion.  The dam began operating in 1970, and has proven to be both beneficial and detrimental to the people and the surrounding land.

First, the dam has been beneficial in the following ways:

Second, the dam has been detrimental in the following ways:

Despite the many problems and concerns caused by the dam, most people feel it has been a great success and has helped the Egyptian economy.  There is still much room for improvement, and hopefully new technologies will be implemented to make the Aswan High Dam and the Nile River beneficial for all.

1.  Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia - 1993.  Grolier Electronic Publishing.

2.  "Environmental Effects of the High Dam at Aswan," an article from the Internet at:

3.  "The Aswan High Dam," an article from the Internet at: