This paper argues that there is a moderate to high risk that Egypt will develop both food and water crises in the next decade.
With approximately 83 million people, Egypt is the most populous country in the Middle East. Its population density has roughly doubled over the last three decades, which has placed enormous pressure on its food and water security. The fertile land on either side of the Nile River and in the Nile Delta, has supported agricultural activity for thousands of years. These areas, however, are in decline, due to soil erosion, desertification and salinity. A diminishing capacity to produce food is the result. Environmental and political factors also threaten Egypt’s water supply. The actions of Egypt’s new government will play a significant role in the future state of the country’s food and water security.
- Fifteen million Egyptians do not earn a sufficient income to purchase an adequate level of nutrition. Income constraints limit the consumption choices of those most vulnerable to food insecurity.
- Economic, political and environmental challenges place restrictions on domestic food production. Increasing food imports, together with reclaiming land for greater food production, is imperative for ensuring the food security of Egypt’s rapidly growing population.
- Egypt experiences an annual water shortfall of 7 billion cubic metres. Its traditional control over the Nile river, the predominate source of fresh water, is being increasingly challenged by neighbouring countries.
- As Egypt undergoes its democratic transition, it faces a moderate to high risk of developing food and water crises over the next decade.