In This Review

Water, Civilisation and Power in Sudan: The Political Economy of Military-Islamist State Building (African Studies)
Water, Civilisation and Power in Sudan: The Political Economy of Military-Islamist State Building (African Studies)
By Harry Verhoeven
Cambridge University Press, 2015, 336 pp

Books on contemporary Sudan tend to focus on the many internal conflicts that have plagued that country, but few explore the nature and policies of the regime in Khartoum. Verhoeven’s book is welcome because it does just that, emphasizing the politics of the regime’s economic development strategies in the last decade or so. The book details Khartoum’s long-standing ambitions to build dams that would help the government leverage the enormous water resources of the Nile River for power generation and agricultural development and also examines the divisions within the government that such projects have inevitably produced. Based on extensive interviews with powerful players in Khartoum and villagers in the countryside, Verhoeven’s book takes a decidedly negative view of the state’s development initiatives. Verhoeven suggests that the benefits have mainly accrued to a small class of urban elites on which the regime relies politically and that the government’s consistent failure to increase food production or extend the benefits of economic growth outside Khartoum is making the broader population restive.