Egypt’s barren fields are dire bellwether for climate summit

By Laura Millan Lombrana, Mirette Magdy and Salma El Wardany

02 Nov 2022 · 12 min read

When Shoukry Mohamed Abdel Salam joined a government program teaching farmers how to grow cotton and vegetables in the desert, his dream was to one day expand his small farm into the Sahara. Two decades on, Abdel Salam is using that desert-farming know-how just to keep his crops alive as salt from the rising Mediterranean seeps into wells around his farm and poisons the soil.

The planet is heating up, but Egypt is warming at a faster pace-making it a bellwether for the painful effects of climate change. The Nile Delta, the breadbasket of Egyptian civilization and where Abdel Salam farms, is gradually turning barren. "I've been working on this land for more than 50 years now. I saw wars, revolutions-big changes," he says. "But water is my biggest worry."

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