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AMBIO

, Volume 41, Issue 5, pp 490–503 | Cite as

A Socio-Ecological Investigation of Options to Manage Groundwater Degradation in the Western Desert, Egypt

  • Caroline King
  • Boshra Salem
Report

Abstract

Under increasing water scarcity, collective groundwater management is a global concern. This article presents an interdisciplinary analysis of this challenge drawing on a survey including 50 large and small farms and gardens in a village in an agricultural land reclamation area on the edge of the Western Desert of Egypt. Findings revealed that smallholders rely on a practice of shallow groundwater use, through which drainage water from adjacent irrigation areas is effectively recycled within the surface aquifer. Expanding agroindustrial activities in the surrounding area are socio-economically important, but by mining non-renewable water in the surrounding area, they set in motion a degradation process with social and ecological consequences for all users in the multi-layered aquifer system. Based on the findings of our investigation, we identify opportunities for local authorities to more systematically connect available environmental information sources and common pool resource management precedents, to counterbalance the degradation threat.

Keywords

Groundwater management Socio-ecological Human–environment interactions 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Many people have provided inputs into the compilation of this report. They bear no responsibility for the final report, or any errors that it may contain. We wish to express particular thanks to the following people for their advice and assistance: the residents of the village of Beni Salama, who advised on the development of the field survey, and hosted numerous research visits with kindness and good humor, the Mayor of Wadi El Natrun and Officials of Wadi El Natrun City Council, Eng. Seyyid Serkis, Akram Fekry and Fatma Abdel-Rahman Attia, who provided essential advice and information on groundwater management provisions in Wadi El Natrun; Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim Gad and colleagues at the Desert Research Center, who provided scientific advice and access to 50 years of archived local information, enabling this report to be compiled. Fabrice Renaud, Harriet Bigas and colleagues taking part in the United Nations University (UNU)—UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP) international research project on Groundwater and Human Security Case Studies (GWAHS-CS). Funding for field research was provided through an Award for Doctoral study funded by ESRC/NERC, UK. We thank three anonymous reviewers for AMBIO for their suggestions toward the finalization of this manuscript. We also thank Suganthi Duraisingam and Harris Switzman for their support during the preparation of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

13280_2012_255_MOESM1_ESM.doc (246 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 246 kb)

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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oxford University Centre for the Environment, University of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of AlexandriaAlexandriaEgypt

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