Greetings from Cairo

Cairo, March 16th, 2011 – I just arrived in Cairo, this massive city on the longest river in the world: the Nile, with a length of 6700 kilometres. During my flights from Berlin to Istanbul and then onwards to Cairo, I scanned through a great book: ‘When the rivers run dry’ by Fred Pearce. Just one impressive fact in his book: lake Nasser, in the south of the country, behind the High Aswan Dam constructed with Russian aid in the 1960ties and filled with Nile water, on one hand helps to diminish flood threats further downstream. On the other hand…. the gigantic lake surface in the middle of the desert is responsible for an unbelievable annual evaporation of about FIFTEEN square kilometres of river water. This is roughly a third of the annual flow of the Nile and the annual flow of the Colorado River. Can you believe it?

When approaching through the clear, dark skies from the north this evening, underneath me I saw the endless signs of civilisation, starting in Alexandria on the Mediterranean Sea, crossing the huge Nile delta onto Cairo. City lights and roads were everywhere, except for a huge black strip in the middle: the Nile, the lifeline of Egypt. All these dozens of millions of people underneath me depend on this river.

What will the new government plan for the future of the Nile, which has to cope with roughly ONE MILLION newborn Egyptians each nine months? We’ll see it in the next days; we’ll keep you posted!

Jeroen Kuiper

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