Investigations on the socioeconomic impacts of mega-dam projects have tended to focus on conventional cost–benefit analysis, while studies exploring perceptions of local communities, who are some of the prime beneficiaries of these development initiatives, are limited. This paper aims to address this research gap through a case study of community perceptions on the socioeconomic impacts of the Merowe Dam in Sudan from the residents of upstream, downstream, and relocated locations. Data were collected primarily through surveys and interviews with residents, government officials, dam implementation authority, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other key informants and a series of indicators were developed for the analysis from the responses. Three inter-related areas of impact were scrutinized: (a) electricity generation; (b) development of modern agriculture; and (c) institutional infrastructure in the region. The results reveal that local communities are fully aware of both the positive and adverse socioeconomic impacts of the Merowe Dam, although these are focused more on the visible impacts closely related to their livelihood and income, such as increased food production, water shortages, electricity supply and its costs. Policy implications include investments in the new settlement areas with respect to the agricultural economy, such as irrigation improvement through electrification, promoting crop diversity, research, development, and diffusion of modern agricultural technologies. Efforts are also needed to strike a balance between provision of utilities and services, (i.e., water, electricity and other infrastructural facilities) provided by the Merowe Dam, amongst communities in relocated, upstream, and downstream locations.
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