Page 25 - Respond 2018 Magazine
P. 25


          Egyptian farmers depend on the Nile to irrigate their crops (Pic: Flickr/Florian Lehmuth)
                                                                                 The country is
          Alaa al-Zawahri, an Egyptian member of the tripartite
          committee studying the effects of the dam, tells Climate
          Home: “There are several scenarios, but nothing certain.
          Some studies predict a rise in temperature and thus little        approaching the
          rain, and others predict more rain”. Diaa al-Qousi, a water
          specialist who worked for government, says the findings
          point to heavy rains for the next 30 years, then a huge drop          UN’s “absolute
          the 60 years that follow.
                                                                               water scarcity”
          Asked if the different conclusions have been communicated
          with farmers, al-Qousi says “farmers would not understand
          such specialists’ findings”. Government is selective
          about what it releases to media, adds al-Zawahri: “Some                           threshold
          information, like worst case scenarios, might cause
          unnecessary panic.”

          In the absence of reliable information, farmers turn to   Yet work on the 6GW dam, a prestige project for the
          conspiracy theories and militaristic fantasies.      Ethiopian government, has continued unabated.

          Qatar “is funding the dam, like it is funding terrorism” to   Al-Zawahri outlines some peaceful options for responding to
          harm Egypt, claims Mohamed Nasr, who owns three feddans   water stress. The government is looking into telemetry, water-
          in Al Gharbeyya. There is no evidence for this common   saving irrigation systems, and desalination. A navigational
          rumour; the Ethiopian government says it is funding the   course from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean is on the
          project nationally.                                  table, which would provide eight billion cubic meters more
                                                               water for Sudan and Egypt. Egypt can also manage its own
          Ethiopia will not be allowed to alter the balance of water   High Aswan Dam more efficiently to decrease evaporation of
          supply along the river, Nasr asserts: “Egypt’s water share is   water. “These plans are to be applied gradually,” he says.
          internationally known. If the share is touched, the dam will
          be completely removed.”                              Water expert al-Qousi is upbeat: “The Egyptian farmer has
                                                               been cultivating lands for seven thousand years, and has
          Osama Saad, a farmer in the Upper Egypt governorate   always found a way around water shortages.”
          of Minya, is more explicit: “People talk about how the
          president should bomb it.” The idea is not alien to higher   Ghoneim begs to differ. “Farmers have traditional
          level discussions around the dam. Previous leaders have   knowledge, which they lived by for a long time. But this
          threatened military action.                          knowledge is now falling short,” she says. “It is not an
                                                               awareness problem that faces farmers, it is an issue of the
                                                               state obstructing information.”

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