The Mekong River: Threats to a unique human-ecosystem | South East Asia

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The Mekong River is unique among the world’s great rivers in the size of the human population supported by its ecosystem. Approximately 60 million people derive their livelihoods from aquatic life in the river system. Largely unregulated through most of the 20th century, the Mekong River system is undergoing extensive dam construction throughout the basin for hydroelectric generation, with over 140 dams planned, under construction, or built. What will be the cumulative effects of these dams on the geomorphology, ecology, and human populations of the river and its delta? How will these changes interact with other changes such as deforestation in steep uplands, levees and channelization, and accelerated sea level rise?

Greening & Opening the Banks of the Nile, Cairo | Egypt

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Picture taken from the Nile in Cairo looking at its western bank, Nov2013

The Nile, in general, and particularly in Cairo, is an ecological, cultural and social corridor that is not yet fully utilized. The 2011 Cairo workshop “Connecting Cairo to the Nile” identified the potential to increase accessibility to the river, suggested longitude trail system, proposed connecting the waterfront with adjacent neighborhoods and proposed expanding the ferry system. I studied a 2-km reach of the east bank in Maadi, a wealthy suburb about 10 km upstream of the city center, with relatively greener banks, availability of resources at the district level, higher awareness of local residents, physical setting allow for banks re-use, existence of community organizations (i.e. Tree Lovers and Midan). Findings of fieldwork and interviews show that: (i) species of native vegetation found are Phoenix Dactylifera, Jacaranda, Cortedarea and Papyrus alba; these are concentrated in 115 meter in southern part of the study area. (ii) Public access was categorized into: public space (accessible), private or semi-public space (accessible with conditions), and prohibited (inaccessible). Along this representative stretch of the Nile, the public access was limited to 16%, the private or semi-public makes 29% and the prohibited zones are 55%. (iii) Boating operations found to be in three categories, floating hotels (Nile cruises), motor boats (including ferries) and sailing boats, all are scattered along the banks without an overall plan or organization, which affects water flow and block public access to the banks. To better develop the banks, I recommend (i) maintaining existing riparian vegetation and expand it to other areas with healthy banks or planted nurseries, (ii) connecting open public spaces to create a pleasant walking trail along the banks in addition to improving public access by relocating government buildings (such as the police or military facilities) and facilitate access to the river for general public, (iii) reducing the anchoring points to two locations and redistribute boating operations to group all motor boats to use the ferry anchoring points and all the sailing boats to use Al-Yacht club marina.