The Sudd is a great swamp in South Sudan through which part of the river Nile passes. Pronounced like the English word sad, the name in Arabic means barrier which is fitting because any boat navigating this broad wetland is slowed by the dense vegetation. Some rafts of vegetation are so large that they persist from year to year as floating islands where people can build a hut and live. Full of fish, the Sudd is home to much wildlife, and as it spreads out seasonally, expanding from 30,000 square miles to 130,000 square miles, it floods vast areas which will eventually dry to become rich farmland.
But prior to the independence of South Sudan, the Sudd was endangered. Egypt, far to the north, made a deal with the Khartoum government called the Jonglei diversion canal. Huge machines moved into the swamp. Their purpose? To dredge a wide canal through the middle and thus allow water to move swiftly upstream to irrigate and enrich Egyptian agriculture. In ten years, South Sudanese farmland would have become as arid as the fringes of the Sahara. The hippos, elephants, antelope, giraffe, and other wildlife dependent upon this great wetland would have moved away, not to mention the tribes that had migrated there for part of every year for many generations.
The division of Sudan to create a new nation ended the Jonglei diversion canal project, and now the Sudd can continue to thrive as the second largest wetland on Planet Earth, visible even from outer space!