The current population of the Sinai is estimated to be around half a million in Northern Sinai with the highest number of inhabitants residing near the El Arish city area. The local people suffer from poverty, terrorism and natural hazards such as sand storms and flash floods. Successful re-greening of the Sinai promises to bring a much better life for the people in the Sinai.
Re-greening the desert in a sustainable matter is feasible but is definitely not easy, primarily because of the scarcity of available water. However, several successful examples and practical methods of restoration are available. There are a number of principles that will enhance infiltration of water, increase the amount of organic matter in the soil, and create microclimates in well-established poly-cultures.
Fog nets can be used at a higher elevation to harvest fresh water from the air, so-called horizontal rain. 35 kilometres south of the Bardawil Lake is a group of hills on an elevation of 700 metres above sea level and that is perfectly suited for the application of these fog nets. To store the available water, small dykes and dams can be constructed with clayish material coming available from the lake deepening works. The direct benefit will be the mitigation of flash floods in the city of El Arish.
In designated natural areas one can focus on growing vegetation, in other areas restoration can be combined with agricultural activities to become directly beneficial to the local communities. Sustainable grazing methods in combination with agro-forestry and household garden concepts can be applied. Education, understanding and development is key to success to fight poverty and provide a sustainable future.
Design & Research
The Weather Makers, with support from Daniel Halsey (United Designers International), HKV and several others, have prepared a methodology how the Northern Sinai could be re-greened in 20 – 40 years.
Are you interested? Have a look at the Ecosystem Restoration Camps Foundation, where practical measures in re-greening are being pioneered. We are also working together with the organic farm of the Habiba community in Nuweiba in the South Sinai on education and training.