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‘Means our death’: Egyptian farmers fear effect of Ethiopia dam | News

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In the winter of 1964, Makhluf Abu Kassem was born in an agricultural community newly created at the far end of Egypt’s Fayoum Oasis. His parents were among the village’s first settlers, moving there three years earlier from the Nile Valley to carve out a new life as farmers. 

It was a bright and prosperous start. The region was fertile and for 40 years they made their living growing corn, cotton and wheat.

Now 55, Abu Kassem looks out at what is left of his shrivelling farm, surrounded by barren wasteland that was once his neighbour’s farmland – victims of dwindling irrigation in recent years. 

“There used to be enough water to make all this area green … Now, it is as you see,” he said. 

In the past, he and other villagers irrigated their farms through canals linked to the Nile River, Egypt’s lifeline since ancient times. It provides the country with a thin, richly fertile stretch of green land through the desert. 

But years of mismanagement, corruption and increasing population led to the loss of at least 75 percent of farmland in the village and the surrounding areas, according to Abdel-Fattah el-Aweidi, head of the Gazaer Qouta Agriculture Association overseeing the area. 

Now, Abu Kassem fears a dam Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile, the Nile’s main tributary, could add to the severe water shortages already hitting his village if no deal is struck to ensure a continued flow of water. 

“The dam means our death,” he said.

Farmers sit under the shade of a tree surrounded by barren wasteland that was once fertile and green Qouta town, Fayoum, Egypt [AP]

Fight for resources

The exact effect of the dam on downstream countries Egypt and Sudan remains unknown. For Egyptian farmers, the daunting prospect adds a new worry on top of the other causes of mounting water scarcity.

Egypt is already spreading its water resources thin. Its booming population, now more than 100 million, has one of the lowest per capita shares of water in the world, at about 550 cubic metres per year, compared with a global average of 1,000.

Ethiopia says the electricity generated by its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is a crucial lifeline to bring its nearly 110 million citizens out of poverty. 

Egypt, which relies on the Nile for more than 90 percent of its water supply, including drinking water, industrial use and irrigation, fears a devastating effect if the dam is operated without taking its needs into account. 

It wants to guarantee a minimum annual release of 40 billion cubic metres of water from the Blue Nile while Ethiopia fills the dam’s giant reservoir, according to an irrigation official. That would be less than the 55 billion cubic metres Egypt usually gets from the Nile, mostly from the Blue Nile.

The shortage would be filled by water stored behind Egypt’s Aswan High Dam in Lake Nasser, which has a gross capacity of 169 billion cubic metres of water. 

Egypt Nile Waters

Egyptian farmer and shepherd Abu Mazen walks his sheep in Second Village, Qouta town, Fayoum, Egypt [AP] 

“If the dam is filled and operated without coordination between Egypt and Ethiopia, its effect will be destructive to the whole Egyptian society and the state will not be able to address its repercussions,” said Egypt’s former Irrigation Minister Mohammed Nasr Allam. 

It is estimated that a permanent drop of five billion cubic meters of Nile water to Egypt would cause the loss of one million acres (400,000 hectares) of farmland, or 12 percent of the country’s total, he said. 

Sudan says the project could endanger its own dams, though it would also see benefits from the Ethiopian dam, including cheap electricity and reduced flooding. 

Abu Kassem’s village, with the bland bureaucratic name of Second Village, was one of multiple agricultural communities created in Egypt in the 1960s by the socialist government of President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Built on reclaimed desert, it depends for irrigation on the Yusuf Canal, which flows from the Nile through Fayoum, fanning out in a series of channels. 

The villagers enumerated the variety of crops they used to farm, ranging from cotton and vegetables to wheat and grains. 

Now, most of the village’s lands are barren. Almost all the Nile water that used to reach it is diverted into other agricultural projects or used for the growing population before it reaches Second Village, farmers say. Similar shortages of water have grown more common even in communities in the Nile Valley and the Delta, where farmers also face increasing salinity. 

To irrigate, the village farmers now depend on wastewater from nearby towns, which is a mix of agricultural drainage and sewage. 

On Abu Kassem’s 16-acre farm (6.5 hectares), only a single acre is now cultivated. His family tried growing corn, but the plants died. They, like most others in the area, switched to growing olive trees, which use less water. But even those suffer. 

“These trees haven’t seen water in over 40 days,” Abu Kassem said, showing a shrivelled fruit.

With the water waning, many of the village’s 12,000 people have left, including Abu Kassem’s three brothers and his four sons. 

Ihsan Abdel-Azim, 53, the wife of one of Abu Kassem’s brothers, moved with her family to work as doormen in Cairo in 2001. 

“We had no choice at the time,” the mother of five said, sitting among her grandchildren during a visit to the village earlier this month. “Cultivating the farm became insufficient to feed my children. All roads led that way.”

Egypt Nile Waters

Farmer Makhluf Abu Kassem stands on a land that was once fertile, in Second Village, Qouta town, Fayoum, Egypt [AP]

Deadlocked talks

Years-long negotiations among Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia failed to reach a deal on the dam. The dispute reached a tipping point earlier this week when Ethiopia announced it completed the first stage of the filling of the dam’s 74 billion-cubic-meter reservoir. 

That sparked fear and confusion in Sudan and Egypt. Both have repeatedly insisted Ethiopia must not start the fill without reaching a deal first. 

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the filling occurred naturally, “without bothering or hurting anyone else”, from torrential rains flooding the Blue Nile. 

Sticking points in the talks have been how much water Ethiopia will release downstream during the filling if a multi-year drought occurs and how the three countries will resolve any future disputes. Egypt and Sudan have pushed for a binding agreement, while Ethiopia insists on non-binding guidelines. 

In recent years, the Egyptian government accelerated its efforts to modernise the country’s irrigation systems, including lining canals and encouraging farmers to adopt drip and spray irrigation, which use less water. 

The government also slashed cultivation of water-consuming crops, such as rice, and threatened to fine farmers who grow such crops in areas not specified for its cultivation. 

President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi said in televised comments late in July his government allocated more than $62.5bn for investments to preserve water until 2037. 

He reiterated warnings that the Nile is “a matter of life” for Egypt and acknowledged the anxiety gripping the country. 

“I am also concerned,” he declared.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Just in: Chad President Edriss Deby Killed By Rebels While Visiting Soldiers on Front-line

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Chad President Idriss Déby has been killed, the national army confirmed Tuesday afternoon.

According to a confirmation from the national army of Chad read on national radio, the newly re-elected President Idriss Déby has died of wounds he received while commanding his army in battles against rebels in the north.

In a swift change of fate, after news had come in that Chad’s veteran president, Idriss Déby had won a sixth term in the latest provisional results in on Monday by 79.3%, an announcement broadcast  on national radio today has announced his death.

According to the army spokesperson, Général Azem Bemrandoua Agouna, the military had been pushed back by a column of insurgents who were advancing on the capital, N’Djamena.

Déby, was expected to give a victory speech after receiving the provisional results, but opted instead to visit Chadian solidears on the front lines, said his campaign director Mahamat Zen Bada.

 

The post Just in: Chad President Edriss Deby Killed By Rebels While Visiting Soldiers on Front-line first appeared on ChimpReports.



Source – chimpreports.com

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Uganda Commends Japan for Support to Refugees

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Government has applauded Japan for its generous support towards the refugee communities in Uganda.

This year, Japan contributed to Uganda, $9.8 million (approximately 36 billion shillings) which according to the Japanese Ambassador to Uganda, Hidemoto Fakuzawa, is aimed at mitigating the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic to the vulnerable population, including; refugees, host community members among others.

Over the years, Japan has made various contributions to Uganda to address the emerging issues ranging from refugees, infrastructure, health among others.

From 2016 to 2020, Japan contributed approximately 35 million dollars (127 billion shillings) to the Government of Uganda by utilizing the supplementary budget to provide humanitarian support and emergency response.

Speaking to reporters at the Uganda Media Centre on Tuesday, Amb Fukuzawa said, “This year, the Government of Japan decided to make a new contribution of about of approximately 9.8 million dollars (approximately 36 billion shillings) to Uganda.”

The contribution was through 8 agencies, namely; United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), UNFPA, UN Women, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, IOM and IFPRI.

“Japan recognizes that the humanitarian situation in refugee hosting areas is devastating, especially under the spread Of COVID-19,” said Amb Fukuzawa.

The 2021 contribution, Amb Fukuzawa said, has been made with specific focus on mitigating the impacts of the Covid-19 to the vulnerable population, including; refugees, host community members, women and children in Uganda.

Uganda is one of the biggest refugee hosting countries in the world, and has an open door policy for refugees.

Regarding the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, Amb Fukuzawa pledged Japan’s support to Uganda to fight the deadly disease that has claimed millions of lives globally.

“Japan will always be by your side and support the Government of Uganda as a member of the international community,” he said.

In 2020, Japan contributed 1.4 million dollars through UNICEF and 3.8 million dollars through the Ministry of Health to provide emergency assistance for prevention of further spread of the covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Japan has continued to support Uganda in the field of social – economic development especially in northern Uganda.

 

On February 11, 2021, Amb Fukuzawa signed a bilateral agreement on behalf of Government of Japan in form of exchange of notes with Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija for the project to improve National Roads in refugee hosting areas of West Nile sub region.

By providing a grant of approximately 36.8 million dollars to the Uganda Government, Amb Fukuzawa said that Japan “is hoping to contribute to stabilization of the society and promotion of sustainable economic growth in northern Uganda.

The Minister of Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Hilary Onek applauded Japanese Government for the “generosity exhibited towards the refugee community.”

“The Government of Uganda commends the Government of Japan for their tireless efforts and support to Uganda, indeed Japan will always remain a true partner to Uganda,” he said.

As of March 2020, Uganda refugee population is at 1,470,858 individuals, and is on the rise.

“Our numbers continue to grow even with the restrictions on registration of new arrivals because of new birth registration and registration of persons who arrived before the lockdown in March 2020, that had since resumed in most settlements especially in West Nile,” said Onek.

The post Uganda Commends Japan for Support to Refugees first appeared on ChimpReports.



Source – chimpreports.com

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Chad President Idriss Deby has died: Army spokesman | Chad News

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President Idriss Deby, who won a 6th term on Monday, has died of injuries suffered on the frontline, an army spokesman said.

Chad’s President Idriss Deby has died of injuries suffered on the frontline where he had gone to visit soldiers battling rebels, an army spokesman said on Tuesday.

The news came a day after Deby won a sixth term, as per provisional election results released on Monday.

The 68-year-old Deby, who came to power in a rebellion in 1990, took 79.3 percent of the vote in the April 11 presidential election, the results showed.

More soon.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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