News / Africa

Nile States Work to Improve Quantity, Quality of Waters

Cairo, the capital of Egypt, on the bank of the Nile River
Cairo, the capital of Egypt, on the bank of the Nile River

This is Part 4 of a 5-part series: Sharing the Nile's Waters
Parts 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

The countries along the Nile have been at odds recently over how to share its waters. But beyond the issue of quantity is the question of quality, and how well states use what they have.  

Egyptians are fond of saying that without the Nile, there wouldn't be an Egypt.   The river provides some 95 percent of the country's water and, for thousands of years, an intricate series of canals and irrigation channels have turned the desert along its banks into farmable and now densely-populated land.

The only problem is that Nile water is unclean.  "Water is a basic right for every human being and, once we all agree that it is a basic right, we all should work to providing this basic right in a decent way.  I mean better quality, good quantity and so on," said Mahmoud Abu Zeid, president of the Arab Water Council and a former minister of water.

Polluted Nile River
Polluted Nile River

He says both industrial pollution and agricultural run-off harm the quality of Nile water.  But the most pressing issue, he says, is the wholesale dumping of human waste.  

In the cities, only 60 percent of human waste enters a sewage system. In the villages, less than 40.  Dirty water is blamed for the deaths of about 17,000 children a year from dysentery alone.  The chlorination system can break down or people actually drink from the Nile.

One of Egypt's rivals for Nile waters is Ethiopia. Ayman Shabana, professor of African Affairs at Cairo University, says the situation there is even worse.

"Ethiopia has abundant water, but 76 percent of its population lack fresh water or clean water for one main reason - not its shortage, but to due to bad administration and the lack of financial resources," said Shabana.

Poor governance and insufficient funds in the Nile states seem to be at the core of the problem. Sewage systems are expensive and are just one of many infrastructure projects needed.  Officials say international aid has helped, but falls short.

Abu Zeid says one short-term way to improve quality is tied to quantity. "The river is more than 6000 kilometers long.  If we have some pollution in the upper areas, by the time it gets here, this quality will be improved a little bit," he said.  

Which means if less water is wasted along the way, the larger volume will help dilute pathogens and pollutants.

Authorities in Egypt are not optimistic. "We have a lot to do, to accomplish," said Mahmoud Abu Zeid.  "And until we accomplish that, in fact, it will take actually about 20 years for Egypt.  So we'll suffer the deterioration of the quality of both the canal[s] and the river and drainage system, too."

The government is trying to raise awareness about water use and pollution.  But until it can build enough waste-disposal infrastructure, the Nile will continue to hold the promise of life, just not a clean one.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid