Ahmed Gaber | We, the Living Dead

Country of origin: Egypt
Project location: Egypt
Program: Arab Documentary Photography Program
Year: 2017

This project aims to display the effects of water shortage in Egypt, including the damage that has reached my family and other Delta farmers whose living depends solely on agriculture.

The Nile Delta in Egypt sits at the end of the longest river in the world. It is home to almost half of the country’s population, who are mostly farmers that rely on the Nile for irrigation. Population growth, climate change, sea level rise, sewage drainage, garbage, factory residue, and poor water management are having a profound effect on communities in the Nile Delta. Today farmers struggle to access clean water, which affects their crop production and their health. There is a sharp rise in kidney failure from drinking the polluted water, and respiratory disease from the toxic air it emits.

Thousands of miles from Egypt’s Delta, construction on the Renaissance Dam continues in Ethiopia. Once finished, this dam will inevitably cause an increasing drop in Egypt’s share of the water, putting additional pressure on the Nile Delta farmers. Filling the dam reservoir will disrupt the flow of the Nile to Egypt, and once filled, experts predict a 25% decrease in the freshwater flow. Due to water shortage, the Egyptian government passed a new law that prohibits the cultivation of several kinds of crops, one of which is rice. In some villages of the Nile Delta, fines are imposed on those farmers who dare to cultivate rice and other staple crops.

Egypt has a population of 100 million on track to double by 2050. The growing population needs more food and fresh water for drinking and irrigation. In 1940, water availability was at 90 cubic feet per capita per year. This ratio has decreased to 30 cubic feet per capita per year in 2018, and the government expects the ratio to be further reduced in near future.

We, The Living Dead is a testament to the struggles faced by the Nile Delta communities in Egypt.