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NDTV.com – August 24, 2007
The Nile River has had a long history of nourishing the people of Egypt. Many of us know stories of the Nile that date back to the building of the pyramids that also include how the Nile fed and nourished the people that lived on its banks.
In more recent times, man has tried to contain the Nile and caused it to serve our purposes. The building of the Aswan Dam gave many people knew found luxury but also caused the Nile to work differently than it had in any time in history.
Now there is concern that the changing of the climate may dramatically alter the Nile River and cause severe hardship for the people of Egypt. The Delta that is formed as the Nile meets the Mediterranean Sea is the home of millions of people and it is the source of huge amounts of agriculture.
Millions of Egyptians could be forced permanently from their homes, the country’s ability to feed itself devastated. That’s what likely awaits this already impoverished and overpopulated nation by the end of the century, if predictions about climate change hold true.
A big reason is the vulnerability of Egypt’s breadbasket the Nile Delta, a fan-shaped area of rich, arable land where the Nile River spreads out and drains into the Mediterranean Sea.
The Delta was already in danger, threatened by the side effects of southern Egypt’s Aswan Dam. Though the dam, completed in 1970, generates much-needed electricity and controls Nile River flooding, it also keeps nutrient sediment from replenishing the eroding Delta. Add climate change to the mix, and the Delta faces new uncertainties that could have a potentially more devastating effect on Egypt.
A rise of 3.3 feet (one meter) would flood a quarter of the Delta, forcing about 10.5 per cent of Egypt’s population from their homes, according to the World Bank. The impact would be all the more staggering if Egypt’s population, as expected, doubles to about 160 million by the middle of the century.
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