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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Aimen Sattar

The influence of water, land, energy and soil-nutrient resource interactions on the food system in Egypt

The population of Egypt increased by 438% between 1950 and 2015 and is estimated to reach 151 million by 2050, while its renewable water resources have remained constant. Egypt’s agricultural sector is dependent on irrigation water for its productivity. These constraints have resulted in dependence on imports of grain to maintain a ‘moderate’ degree of food security. Successive governments have developed plans for self-sufficiency, but none have achieved it. This goal has become more important since the Arab Spring.

The food systems approach was adopted to assess whether food self-sufficiency was an achievable goal for Egypt. The approach was applied by estimating the water, land, energy and soil macronutrient  (WLEN) demands to meet food self-sufficiency for five scenarios. The extent of Egypt’s current deficit in WLEN resources was determined through a comparison with its current WLEN resource endowment. The author proposed a sustainable route to food self-sufficiency through desalination, land reclamation and concentrated solar electricity generation fro the three 2050 scenarios. Mineral fertilisers are not sustainable and could be utilised if this is to be accomplished.

Sustainable food self-sufficiency is possible in Egypt but requires a investment in stable and resilient sustainable natural resource exploitation projects.