Climate risk profile: Egypt - Fact Sheet

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Throughout Egypt’s extensive history, its inhabitants have relied heavily upon the Nile and the productive agricultural sector it nurtures. Modern Egypt has one of the most diversified economies in the Middle East, with robust service, manufacturing, agricultural, and tourism sectors. However, Egypt’s dependence on the Nile River for 95 percent of its freshwater leaves the country vulnerable to climate shocks and transboundary water conflict. Egypt shares land borders with Libya to the West, Israel and the Gaza Strip to the East, and the Sudan to the South. Egypt’s relationship with Ethiopia, home to the source of the majority of the Nile River’s flow, is both critical and strained. Egypt has undergone two significant political transitions since 2011, and the current government is engaged in significant development-oriented reforms including a massive land reclamation project known as the “1.5-Million Feddan Project,” which seeks to draw water from aquifers and divert water from the Nile River to convert desert area into productive land. The upstream construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, will further divert the Nile’s water, implicating Egypt’s water security. Other reforms include efforts to improve the social safety net, decrease the public debt, and increase economic growth and employment. High rates of inflation, increases in food prices, high unemployment, and a poverty rate of 25 percent continue to plague the economy, despite recent healthy growth in gross domestic product (GDP). Further, Egypt’s economy remains sensitive to climate shocks due to its reliance on the Nile and the important role of agriculture in the Egyptian economy. Through its long-recorded history, Egypt has been vulnerable to climatic changes, resulting in famine and political unrest during periods of drought.