When the Nile Runs Dry

(New York Times) Lester R. Brown - As global food prices rise, affluent countries like Saudi Arabia, South Korea, China and India have acquired huge tracts of land in Africa to produce wheat, rice and corn for consumption back home. South Korea has acquired an area twice the size of Rhode Island in Sudan to grow wheat, while in Ethiopia, a Saudi firm has leased 25,000 acres to grow rice. These land grabs pose a grave threat to Egypt. All of Egypt's grain is either imported or produced with water from the Nile River, which flows through Ethiopia and Sudan. These two countries together occupy three-fourths of the Nile River Basin. Today's demands for water are such that there is little left of the river when it eventually empties into the Mediterranean. Moreover, Ethiopia has announced plans to build a huge hydroelectric dam on its branch of the Nile that would reduce the water flow to Egypt even more. The writer is president of the Earth Policy Institute.

2011-06-03 00:00:00

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