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MODERN EGYPT

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Qoais
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« Reply #165 on: December 17, 2009, 09:21:31 pm »

...continued

"The Toshka project will complicate the challenge of achieving a more equitable allocation of the Nile River with Ethiopia and the other Nile basin countries ," said Sandra Postel, director of the US-based Global Water Policy Project.

"Egypt may be setting the stage for a scenario that's ultimately detrimental to itself."

But other experts suggest that in the delicate arena of water politics, it may be more of an imperative for Egypt's government to mollify its own population rather than heed its neighbours concerns.

Overcrowding is straining infrastructure in the cities and the government is worried that opposition groups such as the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, which has a fifth of the seats in Parliament, might capitalise on discontent.

"The government feels it needs to reduce the number of people in high density areas, which puts a lot of pressure on resources like fertile land," said Mostafa Saleh, professor of ecology at Al Azhar University in Cairo.

"They are trying to spread the population to other parts of the country."

...continued
« Last Edit: December 17, 2009, 09:25:26 pm by Qoais » Report Spam   Logged

An open-minded view of the past allows for an unprejudiced glimpse into the future.

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Qoais
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« Reply #166 on: December 17, 2009, 09:25:52 pm »

...continued

Desert tourism

Some critics say that Egypt should look at desert tourism rather than agriculture, which might not be sustainable or particularly profitable and could destroy fragile wildlife habitats that might otherwise be a drawcard for tourists.

A desert reclamation project last decade, south of Cairo, destroyed much of the Wadi Raiyan oasis and its population of slender horned gazelles.

"The price tag on these assets is huge, both as natural heritage and as a resource for tourism," said ecologist Saleh.

Saleh is vice president of an Egyptian firm that built an electricity-free ecolodge, consisting of rock salt and mud houses, amid olive and palm groves in the desert oasis of Siwa.

The lodge, which costs $400 per night and has attracted guests such as Britain's Prince Charles and Belgium's Queen Paola, shows that the desert would be better used for ecotourism than farming, he says.

"In Egypt, water is the most critical resource and we should be careful to use it to maximise revenue," Saleh explained. "Agriculture is not the best option for Egypt. Nature-based tourism could bring in much more money."

At the Desert Development Centre, irrigation water comes through a canal connected to the Nile, about 15km away, where it is used to keep crops flourishing and grass green for hardy hybrid cows to graze.

Experts at the centre believe greening the Sahara might be Egypt's best hope of bringing prosperity to its people.

Workers graft fruit-bearing plants onto the stems of plants that survive well in the desert. Favourite fruits are citrus as they flourish in hot climates and can land on supermarket shelves in Europe hours after harvesting.

Proximity to markets in Europe and a lack of pests, which usually thrive in humid environments, make desert farming economically viable, said Richard Tutwiler, director of the Desert Development Center at the American University in Cairo.

Water supply, Tutwiler said, shouldn't be an issue at least for the next ten years. It makes sense, he says, to expand agriculture onto land that was once useless.

"There is no frost and there is sun all the time here," he said. "Plants just go nuts."

...continued
« Last Edit: December 17, 2009, 09:26:35 pm by Qoais » Report Spam   Logged

An open-minded view of the past allows for an unprejudiced glimpse into the future.

Logic rules.

"Intellectual brilliance is no guarantee against being dead wrong."
Qoais
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« Reply #167 on: December 17, 2009, 09:27:15 pm »

...continued

Desertification facts and figures

About 1.2 billion people are at risk from desertification as deserts expand and degraded dry lands cover close to a third of the world's land surface area, the United Nations estimates. Here are five facts about the phenomenon of encroaching desert lands.

- Desertification is not new. The Sumerian and Babylonian empires are among several ancient civilisations thought to have declined more rapidly after their agricultural output fell because of prolonged desiccation and water scarcity.

- Deserts expand naturally, but "desertification" is a different process where land in arid, semi-dry areas becomes degraded, soil loses its productivity and vegetation thins because of human activities and/or prolonged droughts/floods.

- The destruction wrought by spreading deserts grabbed global attention in 1968, nine years before the United Nations held its first conference on the issue. Some 250,000 people and millions of domestic animals died over a six-year period of severe drought in west Africa's sub-Saharan Sahel region, that hit Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad.

- Globally, the rate of desertification is speeding up, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) says. Africa is the worst affected continent; with two-thirds of its land either desert or drylands. Almost a third of land in the US is affected by desertification; and one quarter of Latin America and the Caribbean, and one fifth of Spain.

- Desertification is mainly a problem of sustainable development. Its causes include over-cropping, over-grazing, improper irrigation practices, and deforestation. Poor land management practices such as these often stem from the socioeconomic conditions in which the farmers live, and can be prevented.


Sources: Reuters, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (www.unccd.int)

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?click_id=31&set_id=1&art_id=nw20071008120155783C548054
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An open-minded view of the past allows for an unprejudiced glimpse into the future.

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