Warm water pours from your shower head. You sip a tall, cold glass of water. Water trickles from your hose to give your thirsty tomato plant a drink. It swishes around as the washing machine scrubs your clothes clean. God made people (and plants and animals) with a desperate need for water. And even before Ethiopians started building their new dam, people in Egypt didn’t have enough of it.
About 93 million people live in Egypt right now. That’s a lot. About 95 percent of them have packed themselves like sardines along the banks of the Nile—the source of all their water. Most countries around the world have around 264,000 gallons of water per person per year. But Egypt has only about 185,000 gallons per person. That amount will probably decrease.
As time goes by, Egypt’s population grows. It could double in 50 years! Egyptians need their water supply to grow. But it will soon shrink instead. Most of the water Egyptians use goes to raise crops. They will use more and more as they grow food to feed all those people. Experts think Egyptians may start running out of water as soon as 2025.
Few countries depend on a river as much as Egypt depends on the Nile. Only about three inches of rain falls on Egypt every year! That’s nowhere near enough to keep farmers’ cotton, rice, and orange trees alive. So farmers flood their fields with Nile water—an inefficient method of irrigation. Sprinkling systems would waste a lot less water. But good irrigation systems cost a lot. Egypt’s small-scale farmers cannot afford them. Officials in the Egyptian government do not want the country to have to pay for them.
Besides inefficient irrigation, drinking water in Egypt flows through old, leaky pipes. Will it make it to a washing machine, hose, or water glass? A lot of it leaks out and disappears first.