As Egypt prepares to host the COP27 climate summit in November, the country is facing heightened scrutiny of its handling of climate challenges within its borders. Nowhere is Egypt’s climate crisis more evident than in the Nile River Delta, a swath of fertile farmland between Cairo and the Mediterranean that is home to 40 million people and is hammered by rising sea levels, rising temperatures, and a critical shortage of water.
The Delta’s farms are the workplace for one-fifth of Egypt’s labor force, and are responsible for 12% of the country’s GDP and much of its food supply. Many farmers are already hemmed in by rapid urbanization and population growth, burdened by debt and soaring inflation, and cut off from subsidies and social services. Now, they’re struggling to cope with saltwater intrusion, conflict over water, heat-related pests and diseases, plummeting crop yields, and other climate impacts.
This series of articles, published before COP27 in the global business magazine Quartz, will profile the work environment of the Nile Delta, through the eyes of farmers, scientists, entrepreneurs, and politicians. It will document not just climate impacts per se, but how socio-economic trends like internal migration, real estate fragmentation, and infrastructure megaprojects impede effective climate adaptation. Stories will look at innovations to stretch the limited water supply, farmers' shifting survival strategies, and how digital technology can help this cradle of civilization manage an unprecedented threat.