Issues in Egypt in Focus, 2020 – Ken Cynar Perspectives – Could the Nile Go Almost Dry?
Posted on March 5, 2020 by Hank Boerner – Chair & Chief Strategist
by Ken Cynar – Editor-in-Chief, G&A Institute
On Water Sustainability:
Critical Question: Could the Nile River Go Almost Dry?
Where can Egypt’s people find enough water to drink and continue sustainable agriculture that has lasted more than 5,000 years?
Long before the modern era of civilization first blossomed, the waters of the ancient Blue Nile flowed north from central Africa more than 4,100 miles into the Mediterranean Sea.
Along the way over the millennia the river’s flood cycles deposited fertile soil along its banks, fighting back the ever-encroaching desert, and quenching the thirst of the people and irrigating the crops they grew.
The Nile became the life blood of a region and a nation. This, the world’s longest river, became both the foundation of and the catalyst for the creation of ancient Egypt, nourishing its science, religion, engineering, writings, and other cultural foundations.
Today the Nile River flows through ten countries that share in its water and electric generating capacity…but not equally. The ever-fragile status quo is being threatened by the construction today in Ethiopia of yet another dam.
For Egypt: A Grave Situation
The situation is becoming grave for Egypt and its 97.5 million people who closely congregate in the land adjacent to the Nile as it flows northward.
Only 6 percent of the land in Egypt is usable in its current form and that tiny percentage is the home to almost all of Egypt’s people – with 22 million people in Cairo alone.
The Nile is their source of water for their crops, drinking water and more. Any sizeable disruption in the flow of the Nile would devastate the country, creating ecological calamity for its people and precipitating one economic disaster after another.
The truth is this: Here in northern Africa, water is more precious than oil.
The solution to the problem like most regarding water is not cut and dried (forgive the pun). No one disputes Ethiopia’s right to build the dam and to generate electricity for its own people. The problem is in the details.
Behind the new dam the plan is to create a new lake and that lake must be filled with water…the question is how long will it take to fill the lake and how that disruption will impact the flow to the Egyptian Aswan Lake Nasser complex — and thereby the flow of water to the majority of Egypt’s almost 100 million people.
So far that question is unresolved and the dam construction is going forward.
Talks in Washington D.C. have not been fruitful — with no resolution of the issues involved in this complex situation.
As populations grow and poorer countries try to bring themselves and their people into the 21st and 22nd centuries, water control…in terms of protecting source and distribution…are becoming issues that could drive nations to armed conflict.
Currently it appears as Ethiopia is not bargaining in good faith and ignoring the impact their actions will have on its neighbors.
Moving Off “No” and “No Progress” to Resolution
While the United States is trying to broker a compromise there not been significant movement. Is water the new oil? Or has it become the key catalyst for nations marching inexorably to war with their neighbors?
Watch carefully in the coming weeks to see if this issue is being resolved.
There are two difficult sides to the story: Ethiopia wants its dam but Egypt cannot allow the lake to dramatically reduce the flow of the Nile.
That could result in a draught of Biblical proportions leading to the destruction of wildlife, agriculture and even death to those living along the Nile. Could armed conflict ensue? Can a country in the 21st Century allow their supply of water to be cut off by another country?
We have to accept: Water is more precious than ever in a world facing global warming and climate change. Leading to greater civic unrest.
A similar situation is brewing between India and China with the river Ganges …same issue, different continent. They who control the water have the power, the upper hand…more on this issue in coming soon.
About My Egypt Travels
We spent eight days touring 5,000 years of Egyptian history…from stately Coptic Churches to the temples at Karnack and Luxor, to King Tut’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings to the Giza plateau and the great Pyramids and the Sphinx.
Our Egyptian tour guide — with a B.A. and Masters in Archeology and Egyptology, Amr — was a wealth of knowledge painting a picture of the gods, goddesses, and pharaohs that made the history, culture and religion of ancient Egypt come alive for us.
His knowledge was enhanced by his love and passion for his country and its history and his deep respect for those ancient peoples. His talks were like the encompassing lectures from the best professor at your university filled with facts, color and excitement.
All this was combined with the execution of the complex logistics by Norm of Mike’s Guiding Light Tours, helping us smoothly glide from location-to-location by plane, river boat, bus, horse-drawn carts and camels — and even by Felucca (the traditional Egyptian sail boat) – all of which made the trip even more exciting.
If you are thinking of touring Egypt or other places worldwide, I recommend that you consider Mike’s Guiding Light Tours. (I know, interesting name, but I think the Guiding Light was his wife’s favorite soap opera.) He is expert in coordination and logistics, with excellent selections of hotels and restaurants and a special feeling of adventure and comradeship…all of this making for a superb travel experience.