The FiNile Solution (2016-12)

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Jul 24, 2017
Hoda Mostafa, Mahmoud Shaltout, Sherif Osman, and Tamer Shoeib

The importance of the Nile Delta to Egypt cannot be quantified. Not only did it provide the key to Egyptology (the Rosetta stone), it is an agricultural gold mine essential to Egypt’s millennia-long survival, and home to Egypt’s most densely populated cities: Cairo, Alexandria, Port Said, Mansoura, Zagazig and Tanta - over a half of Egypt’s 85.7 M (1) population. This case study, intended for introductory science undergraduate level courses, aims to enhance students’ analytical thinking and quantitative literacy skills by examining major threats to the Nile Delta. Including the large output of wastes from increased agricultural demands, water scarcity and access, loss of agricultural land and wastewater drainage from the Greater Cairo area (1,2,3,4,5). This poses several chemical and biological risks (pH, contaminants, oxygen levels, solids, coliforms) (1,2,3,4,5) which in turn affect the quality of both the ecosystem and human life. Second is the loss of agricultural land 4,6 due to expanding cities and the need to meet an ever-increasing population. Students will examine and identify the interactions between the various natural and social components, requirements and usage of Delta lands from a systems perspective. Students will also learn how to interpret quantitative data and collaboratively work in formulating a multidisciplinary approach to this challenge.   Key Questions: Do we have a scarcity probably or not?, what are the potential solutions? Political? Re-evaluate usage? Do we really have a problem? How can a socio-environmental synthesis approach inform our decision making?

Estimated time frame: 
Units within course (i.e. multiple weeks)
SES learning goals: 
  • Understand the structure and behavior of socio-environmental systems
  • Consider the importance of scale and context in addressing socio-environmental problems
  • Find, analyze, and synthesize existing data, concepts, or methods
Has this been tested in the class room: 
Course and class size: 
SCI120: Scientific Thinking (intro level freshman course)
Does this case have an answer key: 
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