Climate Change Could Bring Death on the Nile

Climate Change Could Bring Death on the Nile

The Nile River, and its fertile delta, could be destroyed by climate change, experts warn. Droughts across Africa are draining the river at its source, prompting the UN to warn that the Nile could shrink by up to 70% before 2100, threatening farms and families that depend on it for irrigation. On Egypt’s northern coast, rising seas are creeping up on the Nile Delta, salinating the once arable land and destroying crops. As the water continues to rise, experts fear that thousands of acres of farmland could be ruined.

Africanews: Climate change threatens Egypt's fertile Nile Delta, November 2, 2022.

France 24: Nile River under threat | A closer look at Egypt's water crisis, November 4, 2022.

UNDP Egypt: Protecting the Nile Delta from sea-level rise, February 1, 2022.

Why This Matters

Across Africa, 10 countries, including Kenya, Egypt, and the Congo, depend on the river for food, fishing, and hydroelectric power, all of which will be disrupted if the river shrinks. Already, many in Uganda, where 80% of electricity is generated by the river, fear impending power cuts.

Christina Nalwadda Kalema, a Ugandan resident, has had electricity in her home and shop near Lake Victoria since 2016. Now, frequent power outages due to drought make her think it will soon be taken away.

DW: The future of farming in Africa | Fighting climate change and conflict, May 29, 2021.

PBS: Kenya's worst drought in decades creates humanitarian crisis, January 15, 2022.

"Because of the cuts my son struggles to keep up with his homework. He has to read before nightfall," Kalema told France 24. “Candles are very expensive to me as a single mother with limited income."

In Alexandria, Egypt’s largest port city located in the Nile Delta, the UN’s most optimistic prediction warns that rising seas could submerge one third of the city within 30 years. Such dramatic flooding would displace 1.5 million people, or 25% of the city’s population, and eliminate 195,000 jobs. The city has begun building flood barriers around the edge of the city, but insist that Western countries have an obligation to help save it.

“The West has a moral responsibility” Ahmed Abdel Qadar, the head of the Egyptian Coastline Authority, told France 24. “it must help to counter the negative effects of climate change, which are the result of its civilization."

Africanews: Egypt | Alexandria expected to sink by 2100, November 3, 2022.

Euronews: Loss and damage | How climate reparations are pitting the North against the South, June 1, 2022.

DW: This is just how unfair climate change is, May 21, 2021.

Whether Egyptian President Abdel Fattah all-Sisi is actually committed to fighting climate change, however, remains unclear, even as COP27 is underway. Sisi has fashioned himself as a climate leader, and under his rule Egypt has built one of the world’s largest solar farm, and plans to build high–speed trains to connect the country. Yet, Sisi has also banned the country's climate activists from attending COP27, and even ordered that water be diverted from the Nile to a brand new capital city that he ordered built outside of Cairo. The city will host a new, sprawling presidential palace. The world will be closely watching Sisi’s climate announcements at COP27 to settle their determinations about his sincerity.

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development: Africa's largest solar park is finished, October 23, 2019.

PBS: Human rights case overshadows start of COP27 climate change summit in Egypt, November 7, 2022.

PBS: What Will Life Look Like as MAJOR Rivers Run Dry?, September 27, 2022.

NBC: Three rivers across the globe are under threat, September 25, 2022.

The Disappearing Act

From the Yangtze River in China to the Tigris River in Iraq and to the Rhine River in Europe, the water crucial to surrounding civilization is beginning to disappear. In the western US, a never ending drought has prompted the federal government to warn states that they must make cuts to the water sourced from the Colorado River, before the cuts are forced. Though the dryness plaguing the region persists, state governments are still slow to respond. This prompted the Department of the Interior to announce last week that they will soon explore changing the way that rights to the river operate, which could be the first step in imposing unilateral federal cuts.

DW: Disruption in water cycle threatens the Earth, August 23, 2022.

PBS: Extreme heat in China threatens major water source and hydropower abilities, September 2, 2022.

Al Jazeera: Paradise Lost: Drought ravages Iraq's 'Garden of Eden,’ August 18, 2022.

DW: Water crisis in Southern Europe | Severe droughts and scarce rain force water restrictions, July 5, 2022.

For 100 years, rights to the river have been governed by the Colorado River Compact, which experts say overestimated the amount of  available water, even before climate change. This means that cuts to water usage, experts say, are inevitable and necessary. “Whether those cuts are imposed by a government action, or voluntary action by the states, or the fact that the reservoirs are f—ing empty, they will happen,” John Fleck, a Professor of Water Policy at the University of New Mexico told Grist.

CBS: Megadrought in the West threatens energy and water security, May 5, 2022.

ABC10: California Drought | 'A train wreck of dryness’ | The atmosphere is working against rain, October 9, 2022.

ABC: Colorado River named country’s 'most endangered,' April 18, 2022.

BBC: Deadly heatwaves '100 times more likely' due to climate change, May 18, 2022.

The Hill: Kamala Harris WARNS wars will be fought over water, not oil, April 7, 2021.

DW: Our drinking water | Is the world drying up? (Documentary), March 20, 2022.