Friday, June 22, 2012

Egypt could face major droughts by century's end

Bassem Abo Alabass in Ahram Online: Egypt could face large-scale drought by the end of the century if it fails to take action to limit water use, according to the director of the environment and climate division at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The average temperature in Egypt could rise by between two and six degrees Celsius in the next few decades, says Elwyn Grainger with the United Nations-affiliated agency.

It's a change, he says, that could prompt annual rainfall on the Mediterranean coast to fall 20 per cent. "Egypt's government has not realised the [potential] disaster yet, and it needs to make rapid preparations to tackle it," Grainger told Ahram Online. "I thought we would see much interest from Egyptians for Rio's event due to this crisis."

Grainger was speaking on the sidelines of Rio+20, the latest United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, held this week in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.

Water availability per capita in the Middle East and North Africa regon is predicted to halve by 2050, even without the effects of climate change, according to IFAD data. The Egyptian government should co-ordinate with the UN to reduce the scale of the problem, Grainger said. Among the recommended moves are rationalising the amount of water used by industry as well as enacting tight legislation to guard against waste during agricultural irrigation.

While fresh water supplies dwindle, Grainger says a new threat may come from salt water as climate change could lead to rises in global sea levels that would threaten Egypt's Nile Delta region...

The Nile delta at night, from the International Space Station, via NASA

No comments: