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Tag: Development

Toker Revisited

Toker Dam is protected by a detachment of the EDF. In their free time they attend a high school for combatants. Today they were all on station for guard duty. When we stopped to ask how much the level of water had risen some said as much as 7 metres while another suggested even 10 metres.

Well we continued down the Pump Station Road to see for ourselves. The road is bumpy (like most in Eritrea) but what was worse is that there weren’t any guard rails on this very narrow, very steep road. But once we caught a glimpse of the reservoir we knew it was worth it. From the concrete face of the dam back towards the rear of the reservoir, hundreds of thousands of litres of grey-blue water.

Toker Dam in August

West or Bust! [Gerset]

Gerset is a town just half an our south of Tesseney. To call it a town may be a bit of an overstatement but we will give it the benefit of the doubt. Gerset is a place that has mostly been settled now by Eritrean returnees from Sudan.

Where they have decided to settled is both prime farming land but quite prone to flooding. Here though a damn is being constructed to both hold irrigable water for a test plot of 1000 hectares and prevent flooding in the area.

Tractors near Gerset

West or Bust! [Barentu]

For the past two days I have been on a bit of a jaunt to western Eritrea. What I saw amazed me. Years ago, back in 2001 I had been as far west as Barentu but no further because after the war gas was difficult to find in the area.

Anyway, back to 2005 and what had to be the most impressive trips I have ever been on. It is likely that most people wouldn’t be as amazed as I was but what could be seen was marvelous. The strides towards food security despite the setbacks of war and drought in Eritrea is amazing.

Urban Drought

Eritrea is in its fifth year of drought. Most of the major water supplies for the capital have been consumed and there are only small amounts remaining for municipal and agricultural use. Who knows how long this water supply will last. Asmara’s most important source of water at the moment is the Toker Dam.

Toker Dam is the largest reservoir in Eritrea to do date. It also may be the only reason that the most populous Eritrean city has not had to promulgate water restrictions. At the time of construction some railed against the project as a lavish project by an ignorant government. Those naysayers have surely been silenced now.

Trip to Fil-Fil

On the way to the project site in the Fil-Fil National Park I learned a little bit about the project. The road, which begins in Asmara and ends at the intersection of the Afabet-Ghatelay highway is a road designed only for tourist adventures. Because of this, as close to zero impact construction methods are being utilized as much as possible. Interestingly, before we arrived at the site (a half hour out of Ghatelay) we passed what seemed to be an oasis in the sun-parched plain.

It was the home of a Warsay-Yikalo division practicing desert farming. This oasis used the water from a river that would be dumped into the Red Sea to water crops. Surely this same method could be copied throughout the plain (with significant investment of course). Further up the road of course was the Fil-fil National Park.

Desert Oasis