mHM in Atbara | Sudan-Ethiopia-Eritrea

With a length of about 805 km, the Atbara river drains an area of 69,000 km2 and is the last major tributary of the Nile before it enters the Mediterranean.


The upstream part of the Atbara basin is mainly wet tropical savanna. But as the basin approaches the Sahara desert in the North the downstream portion of the basin is hot deserts for most part. Thus an ecological break is visible in the basin.

Semi-arid streamflow

The river has an annual streamflow of above 300 m3 s-1. But for 2/3 rd of the year the river runs under 70 m3 s-1. Its only in the rainy season (July - October) that the river rises 5m above its normal level to produce monthly rainfall in excess of 2000 m3 s-1 in August.

Atbara river basin study area.
Reservoirs of Atbara

In 1964, the Atbara river was dammed by the Khashm el-Girba Dam near Kassala in Sudan. The reservoir provides irrigation to the arid town of Halfa Dughaym where the Sudanese population driven away by the Aswan High Dam in Egypt were resettled. In 2017, a twin dam project (Rumela and Burdana dams) dammed the Upper Atbara and Setit rivers 20 km upstream from their confluence.

With the seasonal hydro-meteorological forecasts based indicators six months into future, we intend to help the water managers of Atbara basin to better manage the valuable rainy season streamflow volume coming to the dams. The global dataset and remote sensing based approach of this project circumvents the data sharing issues and would facilitate in the transboundary management of water resources.