Visit our new website:

Egypt’s fertile Nile Delta threatened by climate change

  • Fri, 07 Dec 2018 13:17
Aziz El Massassi | AFP
Fri, 2018-12-07 03:05

KAFR AL-DAWAR, Egypt: Lush green fields blanket northern Egypt’s Nile Delta, but the country’s agricultural heartland and its vital freshwater resources are under threat from a warming climate.
The fertile arc-shaped basin is home to nearly half the country’s population, and the river that feeds it provides Egypt with 90 percent of its water needs.
But climbing temperatures and drought are drying up the mighty Nile — a problem compounded by rising seas and soil salinization, experts and farmers say.
Combined, they could jeopardize crops in the Arab world’s most populous country, where the food needs of its 98 million residents are only expected to increase.
“The Nile is shrinking. The water doesn’t reach us anymore,” says Talaat El-Sisi, a farmer who has grown wheat, corn and other crops for 30 years in the southern Delta governorate of Menoufia.
“We’ve been forced to tap into the groundwater and we’ve stopped growing rice,” a cereal known for its greedy water consumption, he adds.
By 2050, the region could lose up to 15 percent of its key agricultural land due to salinization, according to a 2016 study published by Egyptian economists.
The yield of tomato crops could drop by 50 percent, the study said, with staple cereals like wheat and rice falling 18 and 11 percent respectively.
In Kafr Al-Dawar in the delta’s north, Egypt’s irrigation ministry and the United Nations are working on eco-friendly techniques like solar-powered watering that experts say emit less greenhouse gases and could help improve crop yields.
On site, two farmers wearing traditional galabiya gowns show off shiny new solar panels framed by row after row of corn, barley and wheat.
Sayed Soliman, eyes bright and cane in hand, runs a group of about 100 farmers who work a plot of more than 100 hectares (around 250 acres).
The seasoned farmer is delighted. He can now power the pumps that water his field without relying on Egypt’s faulty electricity grid and expensive fossil fuels like diesel that are responsible for climate change.
Diesel-powered generators are now only used “when necessary,” he says, such as after sunset.
After his success, a neighboring village is also switching to solar-powered irrigation.
“One of the priorities is innovation... so that Egypt can make the most of its water,” says Hussein Gadain, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative in Egypt.
“The delta plays an important role in the country’s food security.”
Ibrahim Mahmoud, head of the irrigation ministry’s development projects, said plans were in place to modernize watering systems across the country by 2050.
The strategy, he says, is intended to improve farmers’ “environmental conditions, standards of living and productivity.”
But in a country in the tight grip of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the Nile Delta and its resources remain an ultra-sensitive topic.
AFP’s visit to Kafr Al-Dawar was closely supervised by the ministry.
In front of officials, farmers stuck to well-worn talking points about the delta’s bounty but politely skirted questions on water scarcity.
El-Sisi has made the Nile’s water a “life or death issue” for Egypt, particularly in the framework of negotiations with neighboring Sudan, as well as Ethiopia.
Cairo fears Addis Ababa’s controversial Grand Renaissance Dam will bring consequences downstream.
For water management consultant Dalia Gouda, Egypt currently has two priorities when it comes to combatting its water scarcity dilemma: tackling overpopulation and defending the country’s interests against Ethiopia’s dam.
“There are many interesting projects under way to improve water efficiency,” says Gouda.
“Although they are not necessarily designed to combat the effects of climate change, they can only prepare the authorities to deal with them.”

Main category: 
Careem Bus launches in Egypt, KSA and Pakistan to followRetired police general among 5 Egyptians being investigated by Italy in student’s murder Middle-East


Popular Science

Related Stories

Change for Your Life.
  • Sat, 25 May 2019 12:41

Change for Your Life   When we are young we create our own lifestyle.. Sometimes we are affected by certain things or peoples around us. Fi...

Egypt’s street iftar comes with a community flavor
  • Thu, 23 May 2019 05:14

Tue, 2019-05-21 23:22 CAIRO: Hardly a street in Egypt is without its iftar table as families organize “mercy meals” for friends, relatives and n...

Egypt’s El-Sisi opens huge suspension bridge over the Nile
  • Thu, 16 May 2019 15:36

Author: ReutersID: 1557918351526443300Wed, 2019-05-15 11:01 CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Wednesday opened a suspension...

Ireland declares climate emergency
  • Fri, 10 May 2019 21:39

Author: AFPID: 1557472480278195500Fri, 2019-05-10 07:07 DUBLIN: Ireland’s parliament has become the second after Britain’s to declare a...

New Zealand introduces climate bill to become carbon neutral
  • Wed, 08 May 2019 09:53

Author: APID: 1557279495070147200Wed, 2019-05-08 01:23 WELLINGTON, New Zealand: New Zealand’s government on Wednesday introduced an ambit...

Prime Minister Hariri: Lebanon should learn from Egypt’s economic development
  • Fri, 03 May 2019 00:18

Author: Associated PressID: 1556805486367175600Thu, 2019-05-02 13:45 BEIRUT: Lebanon’s prime minister says his country should learn from ...

London climate protesters seek talks with government
  • Mon, 22 Apr 2019 05:48

Author: Edouard GUIHAIRE | AFPID: 1555860474360738100Sun, 2019-04-21 14:51 LONDON: Climate change protesters who have brought parts of Lond...

US Mideast plan will not include land transfer from Egypt’s Sinai: envoy
  • Sat, 20 Apr 2019 08:15

Author: Sat, 2019-04-20 00:03 JERUSALEM: US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan will not involve giving land from Egypt’s Sinai ...

Emma Thompson, weeping teenagers join peaceful climate protest in London
  • Sat, 20 Apr 2019 06:39

Author: Fri, 2019-04-19 21:02 LONDON: Film star Emma Thompson joined climate change activists in a central London shopping district on Friday to...

Artificial Limbs Change Lives for Wounded Gaza Protesters
  • Tue, 09 Apr 2019 04:57

Walking up and down stairs at a Gaza medical center, Palestinian amputees are learning to use their new artificial limbs after being wounded by Israel...

Banners and posters flood Egypt’s streets ahead of referendum
  • Sun, 07 Apr 2019 06:42

Author: Sun, 2019-04-07 01:46 CAIRO: Banners and posters have been put up across major Egyptian cities, ahead of a proposed referendum on signif...

New York man threatened to kill Minnesota Congresswoman: FBI
  • Sat, 06 Apr 2019 13:52

Author: APID: 1554519146674610100Sat, 2019-04-06 02:29 NEW YORK: A western New York man has been charged with threatening to kill US Rep. I...