12/07/2018, 12.31
EGYPT
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Cairo, climate change puts the fertility of the Nile delta at risk

The basin is home to half the Egyptian population and the river supplies around 90% of its water needs. Increasing temperatures and drought are drying up the stream. A problem sharpened by sea rise and salinization. Eco-compatible technologies such as solar energy irrigation are being studied.

Cairo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Climate change and rising temperatures endanger the delicate ecosystem of the Nile delta, in the north of Egypt, one of the most fertile areas and of vital importance for the whole country with the its green and lush fields. The arch-shaped basin is home to about half of the total population and the river that feeds it provides about 90% of the national water needs.

Local experts, environmentalists and farmers warn that rising temperatures and droughts are drying up the Nile; a problem sharpened by the rise in sea levels and the progressive salinization of the soil. Together, these factors risk jeopardizing the cultures of the most populous country in the Arab world, above all the access to food for an estimated 98 million.

The Nile is shrinking. The water doesn't reach us anymore," says Talaat al-Sisi, a farmer who has grown wheat, corn and other crops for 30 years in the southern Delta governorate of Menoufia.

"We've been forced to tap into the groundwater and we've stopped growing rice," a cereal known for its greedy water consumption, he adds.

According to a study, by 2050 the region could lose up to 15% of its agricultural land due to salinization. The decline in tomato crops could reach 50%, with basic grains such as wheat and rice falling by 18% and 11% respectively.

In Kafr al-Dawar, in the north of the delta, the Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation and the United Nations are working on eco-friendly techniques such as solar-powered irrigation; according to the experts it allows to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and could help to improve the crops. Ibrahim Mahmoud, head of the development projects of the dicastery, announces plans for the development and modernization of the water distribution system throughout the country by 2050.

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