Egypt Pursues Unsustainable Desert Irrigation
Even as climate change and poor land use cause deserts to expand around the world [search], Egypt is poised to use limited water supplies to irrigate their deserts [search]. The Egyptian government is moving forward with a US$70 billion plan to reclaim 3.4 million acres of desert [ark] over the next 10 years, using Nile river waters that are already near exhaustion and highly contested.
Such efforts may work for awhile, but particularly in arid nations like Egypt, water supplies are inevitably overutilized, population advances negate increased food production, and a whole slew of ecological problems are created. These include salination of soils, changing of local microclimates and exhaustion of regional water supplies. It is unwise to use precious water resources to grow food in deserts unsuited to cultivation and where water evaporates quickly. The plan is clearly "neither practical nor sustainable and might ultimately backfire", and demonstrates the desparate situation that over-populated, resource exhausted nations such as Egypt face.