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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Addressing Water Scarcity in the Nile Delta: Virtual Water, Fresh Water, and Desalination


Water scarcity has direct implications for food security in arid regions. Egypt faces an escalating situation of water scarcity, as its renewable fresh water resources are fixed and the population is growing rapidly. The per capita supply of fresh water is already dangerously low and predicted to plummet even further by the year 2025. This paper critically analyzes three different approaches to the water scarcity problem in Egypt: importing virtual water, using Nile water more efficiently, and creating new sources of fresh water with desalination. The advantages and disadvantages of each approach are reviewed. This exposes a number of fundamental trade-offs that must be resolved. Discussion and recommendations are made as to which solution is most viable.

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