PRESERVING EGYPT’S MONUMENTS PROVIDES INSIGHTS INTO EGYPT’S FUTURE SUSTAINABILITY
Agricultural expansion on Nile terraces and desert is exacerbating environmental concerns. From 1998 to 2002, 6,742ha of the planned 11,736ha Wadi El-Saya’ada Reclamation Project near Edfu was brought under cultivation up to 50m above the Nile. Surface pools within the Hierakonpolis Temple-Town site increased from 3 (1999) to >33 (2005) and the mean depth to water table decreased from 4.2m (1898), 2.2m (1967) to 1.0m (2005). Nile flood plain and terrace escarpments farmed for millennia are now salinized and hundreds of mudbrick structures destroyed, e.g., El Ghaba and Saya’ada el Qibli. The ancient Mudbrick “Fort” World Heritage Site, on the second Nile terrace near the Temple-Town, is threatened. Parcels reclaimed during 2001-2010 are now idle, portions of new settlements flooded and abandoned. These observations foretell Egypt’s plight as lands along the western dessert road, Aswan to Abydos and elsewhere are brought under cultivation without adequate science-based consideration. Egypt’s rate of population growth cannot be sustained without the import of water, i.e., Congo Basin, but at what of cost?