Egypt Ecological Problems

Egypt’s ecological problems are mainly caused by drought, rapid population growth and the extremely unequal distribution of the population as well as political deficits, corruption and a lack of environmental awareness among the population. The main environmental problems are as follows:

  • Increasing water scarcity,mainly due to population and industrial growth, irrigation projects, insufficient maintenance of water supply networks, water waste by households and institutions as well as outdated irrigation methods. In view of Egypt’s dependence on the Nile, from which the country obtains over 90% of its water, the years of neglect of cooperation with the Nile-bordering countries are particularly dramatic. It ultimately led to the unilateral termination of the use of the Nile water in 1929 by four of the nine countries bordering the Nile, at the expense of Egypt and Sudan. President Sisi tries to solve the water problem between Ethiopia and Egypt.
  • Water pollution, especially from inadequate sanitation, excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides, uncontrolled disposal of industrial sewage and rubbish. The water of the Nile in Egypt is not only polluted, it is dangerous and harmful to health. Slum residents also dump their sewage into the Nile. The Egyptian government denies all allegations regarding water pollution and refers to the sewage laws. These laws are not being implemented… and water pollution is and will remain a big issue in Egypt.
  • Marine pollution, especially the threat to coral reefs, beaches and the marine habitat of the Red Sea from oil pollution and tourism (especially inadequate sewage disposal in many tourist resorts, divers and diving boats, inadequate fishing and a lack of awareness among tourists). Recently there have been increased efforts by NGOs (e.g. through HEPCA) and also international support (e.g. DRG (Dolphin Rescue Society) to protect the Red Sea.
  • Shortage of agricultural land due to predominantly informal settlement expansion. In the period 1952-2002 alone, Egypt lost 300,000 hectares of agricultural land through urbanization.
  • Soil deterioration and salinization, mainly due to overcultivation of agricultural areas, insufficient maintenance of irrigation and drainage systems as well as expansion of irrigation areas after the construction of the Aswan Dam
  • Desertification, that is, the advance of the desert. Egypt’s rate of desertification is the highest in the world. The underlying problem in Egypt is above all the illegal conversion of agricultural land into building land, which skyrocketed in the wake of the security vacuum after the revolution in January 2011.
  • Endangerment of the biodiversity,especially through expanding settlement areas, tourism and uncontrolled hunting. The Sinai leopard, certain ibis species, the green sea turtle and 59 of the total of 2,076 Egyptian plant species are threatened with extinction. The Bubal hartebeest, the maned sheep and the Sahara oryx are already extinct.
  • Air pollution from particulate matter, industrial plants, city traffic and open waste incineration. The greater Cairo area is particularly hard hit. Despite improvements through various measures, including the Cairo Air Improvement Project, a real smog bell still hangs over Cairo, especially in spring when the Khamsin winds carry desert sand into the city and in autumn when rice straw is burned in the delta.
  • Isolated location of many villages and informal settlements,in which there is often no functioning waste and sewage disposal system. Coupled with a lack of health and hygiene awareness, this leads to the spread of diseases, which particularly affect children.

In recent years, national and international initiatives have intensified their efforts to combat the serious environmental problems; In 1994 a law for the conservation and protection of the environment was passed. With this law, the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) was founded as well as the Environmental Protection Fund, which has been operating regularly since 2000/2001. The EEAA has been preparing regular reports on the environmental situation since 2004. Since the January 25th Revolution (2011), environmental activists have been hoping for increased environmental efforts to combat ecological problems and a stronger focus on ecotourism.

Raw materials and energy

According to areacodesexplorer, the most important natural resources and raw materials in Egypt are oil, natural gas, iron ore, phosphates, manganese, limestone, gypsum, talc, asbestos, lead and zinc. Oil is mainly produced in the Gulf of Suez, on the Sinai Peninsula and in the Qattara Depression. Rock phosphates come from the coasts of the Red Sea as well as from South Sinai, Upper Egypt and the Dakhla and Kharga oases. Iron ores are mined in Aswan and the Bahariya oasis, manganese ores in Sinai and chromium, tin and salt in the Red Sea. Sulfur, non-ferrous metal, uranium and asbestos deposits are still largely untapped. Natural gas has been produced since 1975, but it was only in the last decade that Egypt became a major producer and exporter of natural gas. In Germany, natural gas is mainly used for power generation and fertilizer production. Energy and power supply are an important issue in Egypt. As the population grows, so does Egypt’s energy demand and the generation of electricity by the hydropower plants at the old and new Aswan Dam, which generate around 15% of Egyptian electricity, is at risk from the lowering of the water level in the Nasser Reservoir. Egypt wants to lead the way in renewable energies and plans to build a number of natural gas-powered thermal power plants. The use of uranium in several planned nuclear power plants is controversial, especially abroad. International donors have repeatedly expressed their willingness to support the greater use of renewable energies such as wind and solar energy. The German credit institution for reconstruction(KfW) supports, for example, the Zafarana wind farm on the Red Sea and the EU has plans for large solar energy projects in Egypt.

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