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The role of the defense community in the Nile conflict – Interview with Kitty van der Heijden

The defense community, she argues, must address risks early-on. Kitty van der Heijden is Director for Europe and Africa at the World Resource Institute, and lives in Ethiopia.

This interview was conducted at the Planetary Security Conference in The Hague, 5-6 December 2016.

"I live in Ethiopia. Ethiopia shares the Nile with Egypt. For Egypt it is the lifeblood of the country. Ethiopia is building a large dam, the Renaissance Dam. Ethiopia needs that for food security, for irrigation. At the same time, it will lead to much less water going downstream to Egypt. That will have effect on water levels in Lake Aswan. What will happen to the hydro power station there? What will happen to young people that need to provide for their future if there are no jobs because agriculture is going down? What happens if at the same time you will see there is 59 cm of sea level rise in the delta in Cairo? With salt intrusion it will render in the long run many of the fertile agricultural lands in Egypt, they go to waste. Where will people go? Where will they find not just a job, where will they find a future? And it is that type of forecasting that we need. That is where the defense community has huge capabilities, and then back-casting to what policy actions we can do now."