THE Egyptian farmer stood in his dust blown field, lamenting his fortune. A few years ago, wheat and tomato-filled greenhouses carpeted the land. Now the desert was creeping in.

''Look,'' he said, gesturing at the sandy soil and abandoned greenhouses. ''Barren''.

''THE NILE is a question of life, a matter of existence to Egypt,'' President Abdel Fattah el-Sassi said at the United Nations last September.

For eight years, officials from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan - which lies between the two countries have squabbled fruitlessly over a dam. Ninety-five percent of Egyptians live along the Nile or in its teeming delta, and the river provides nearly all of their water.

They all worry that if the dam in Ethiopia is filled too quickly it could drastically curtail their water supply. In November, last, in a last-ditch effort, the talks moved to Washington, where the White House has been mediating.

The overtaxed, fabled river, at the heart of Egypt's very identity is under assault from pollution, climate change and Egypt's growing population, which will hit 100 million people this month. And now, a fresh calamity looms.

A colossal hydroelectric dam being on the Nile 2,000 miles upriver, in the lowlands of Ethiopia, threatens to further constrict Egypt's water supply - and is scheduled to start filling this summer.

The dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over the $4.5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam -Africa's largest, with the  reservoir about the size of London - has become a national preoccupation in both countries, stoking patriotism, deep seated fears and even murmurs of war.

To Ethiopians, the dam is a cherished symbol of their ambitions - a mega project with the potential to power millions of homes, earn billions from electricity sales to neighboring countries and confirm Ethiopia's place as a rising African power.

The honor and serving of the latest global operational research on Water and Problems, continues. The  World Students Society thanks authors, Declan Walsh and Somini SenGupta.


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