Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Egypt farmers fear water supply threat from Ethiopia dam

Seed Daily via AFP: With an economy already in tatters, Egypt's farmers fear the building of an upstream Nile dam in Ethiopia could lead to water shortages and crop failures with catastrophic effects on their livelihood.

"We don't want this dam," says Saeed al-Simari, standing on his modest land in Egypt's fertile Nile Delta region. "We want to plant our land, we need water. It's hard enough with the water we have, imagine when we don't have anymore," said Simari. "We are very worried about our crops," he told AFP.

Ethiopia is pressing ahead with construction of a $4.2 billion (3.2 billion euro) Grand Renaissance Dam, set to become Africa's biggest hydroelectric dam when completed. The announcement of the project caused a national outcry in Egypt, with politicians, media and farmers warning that the dam could pose a national security threat.

Water experts in Egypt say there is already a water deficit in the country due to the exploding population. "The average person uses 620 to 640 cubic metres (21,000 to 22,600 cubic feet) per year. With the water poverty level defined at 1,000 cubic metres, we are already below the water poverty level," says Alaa al-Zawahry, a dam expert and member of a government commission tasked with studying the downstream impact of Ethiopia's dam....

NASA image of the Nile Delta

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