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Egypt: 5 million could be displaced by climate change

An Egyptian man tends to his cows at the riverbed of the Nile in Egypt [File photo]
An Egyptian man tends to his cows in Egypt [File photo]

Climate changes on Egypt’s northern coast could force five million people to leave the country’s Nile Delta area, Egypt’s irrigation minister said yesterday.

In light of population estimates for 2025, annual water share per individual will shrink to 500 milliliters from today’s 600 milliliters’ share given the deteriorating quality of surface groundwater, Minister Mohamed Abdul Ati told a high-level Water for Sustainable Development conference, held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Currently, there is an annual gap between water needs and available water. The gap is overcome by reusing wastewater and by relying on surface groundwater in the country’s Delta and Wadi areas.

The Egyptian minister added that his country is a prototype model of the developing countries facing imminent climate changes on top of other major economic, social and environmental threats, Anadolu reported.

He noted that Egypt is threatened by rising sea level, saltwater intrusion into aquifers, in addition to the areas prone to drowning due to their low geographical levels such as the Nile Delta.

Read: Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan reach agreement on Nile dispute

Millions of people in the Nile Delta are at risk of displacement and of losing their investments which are worth billions of dollars. The climate change on Egypt’s northern coast is expected to lead to the migration of at least five million people from the Nile Delta if appropriate measures are not taken.

Climate change studies predict a reduction in the productivity of two main crops in Egypt, wheat and maize, by 15 and 19 per cent respectively by 2050. Moreover, about 15 per cent of the most arable land in the Nile Delta is expected to be salty, Abdul Ati said.

Given the country’s complex situation, Egypt cannot afford to lose its historical rights of the Nile water’s share, the minister said, adding that it is impossible to accept the Egyptian people’s dying of thirst and famine.

Read: Nile water crisis places Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia on the brink of war

The Egyptian minister pointed out that cooperation with the Nile basin countries must be based on mutual benefit and not harming others.

Cairo fears that the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam could negatively affect the flow of its annual share of Nile water, Egypt’s main water source.

Ethiopia says that the dam will have many benefits, especially in the production of electricity, and will not hurt the downstream countries, Sudan and Egypt.

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