By: Nadine Ibrahim
Photos by: Virginie Nguyen
Standing on the peak of one of Gezirat al-Warraq’s trash mountains, one can see beautiful Nile vignettes, the shores of Imbaba and Shubra, and small uninhabited islands that pop in and out of existence with the changing currents.
But, looking in, the island’s problems don’t end with the piles of trash occupying the Nile banks. Poor urban planning and lack of infrastructure have led to a dire health and environment predicament here.
Poor sanitation sewage networks and waste collection, contaminated drinking water, chemical fertilizer runoff and isolation from the mainland are only a few sources of Gezirat al-Warraq’s residents’ deep-seated suffering.
Untreated organic matter causes contamination and infections, and fecal bacteria are also an important indicator of water quality, says Sherif Baha el Din, environmental consultant and board chairman of the organization, Nature Conservation Egypt.
The island’s residents use contaminated Nile water to wash their dishes and swim, while they must depend on other sources for their drinking water. While official numbers boast a 99 percent rate of access to water in Egypt, this does not include access to potable water. Rural water sanitation coverage stands at a devastating four percent.
The problem for Gezirat al-Warraq, however, is not in the substandard treatment techniques, but the evidence that the government water taps distribute water that does not meet the minimum requirements for human consumption. [Continue reading..]