Papyrus and the Evolution of Civilization from Ancient Egypt to Today’s Water Wars
by John Gaudet

Save the Sudd

Papyrus is a dominant plant in the Sudd in Southern Sudan, the largest protected freshwater swamp in the world. This swamp is now a pawn in a dramatic world-changing face-off between Africa and Egypt, a showdown that hopefully will end in a peacefully cooperative effort.

The story is a simple one, Egypt and Ethiopia are at odds over water in the Blue Nile. Ethiopia’s new Renaissance Dam is intended to control the flow, reduce loss by evaporation and slow the downstream loss of water storage. This is all to the good, but comes at a cost. While the megadam fills, Egypt must live with a decrease in Blue Nile water flow. Aljazeera (June 18, 2013) announced that foreign ministers from both countries have opened talks, and Bloomberg View (June 23, 2013) suggested that Ethiopia could bridge the divide by agreeing to fill the dam’s reservoir more slowly.

By cooperating with Ethiopia in this new effort, a war will be averted, but, in compensation, almost certainly Egypt will ask all parties to pressure the new nation of Southern Sudan to complete a canal that will drain the Sudd.

That canal (called the ‘Jonglei Canal’) is likely to have “a significant impact on climate, groundwater recharges, silt and water quality; it is also likely to involve the loss of fish habitat and grazing areas, which, in turn, will have serious implications for the local people (World Wildlife Fund, 2013).”

The 1,700,000 people who live there will suffer, along with vast herds of elephant, gazelle and antelope now under study by the Wildlife Conservation Society. It doesn’t have to be that way, as explained in The Plant that Changed the World: Papyrus and the Evolution of Civilization: From Ancient Egypt to Today’s Water Wars from Pegasus Books. John Gaudet, Ph.D., a professional ecologist and environmental adviser, will tell us how all the above can be avoided.

  CLICK Here to see the Sudd Swamp on the White Nile

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