The delta in Egypt used to be a perfect location for fishing before it became the main destination for the country's sewage. The polluted waters threaten both the fisherman's wallet and his health.
The Nile extends 120 km in Monofeya governate including more than 150,000 fishermen. This job is inherited through families. There are fishermen who have diplomas & bachelor degrees but they can't be but a fisherman. The reason of our suffering is the 'Sewerage' from Rahawi branch and the other drainage system of Shibeen Coum that has been there for 10 years. Rahawi branch passes an untreated amount of 12-14 million meters daily into Rosetta branch. At this time of year, the water level is high so the sewage is not obvious but it gets worse in October. In October, the water level is less and the sewage is all over and it kills every living organism in the water. We have tried to reach every official and they have given us plenty of false promises. It's only getting worse every year. Last year, our condition was slightly better. Fishermen used to catch 2 or 3 kilos of fish. The last statement by the prime minister included incorrect data. The production of free fishing in Egypt in his statement is far from reality. Fish farms, however, is in good business; only for few businessmen while the rest of the people have nothing to do.
This whole issue can be solved by a single action. We just want them to move away the sewage to the desert maybe. Studies have been made and it says it would be treated in the Western desert and grows trees. I have met with the Major General Sayed Salem and told him that people are very angry and will cut off the roads that link between the east and west although we are very peaceful people. Fisheries are what we earn our living from and they are the base of our lives. There many health problems since we got the highest rate of kidney failure worldwide in Monofeya and this is all documented. We have 10-15 victims yearly of young fishermen who die of health problems caused by bilharzias, kidney failure and liver failure. Moreover, the farms are irrigated by this contaminated water which leads to contaminated plants.
My name is Fadl El Nabi Shiha, Sheikh Sayadeen (head of fishermen) of Noor center, one of the people affected by the Sewage project. Fishermen used to enjoy a good life. Now, we're like germs and people are trying to avoid us. They talk about the condition of people with a low-income; while we have no income at all. The Nile is filled with more than 30 types of fish. They all got extinct except for one kind of fish but when the officials lower the water level, all living organisms die. Sometimes, the officials even throw grease in the Nile and the next day all kinds of fish die too. We can say that starting 1981, the situation have become much worse. At first, when the fishermen saw the dead fish in the sea, they thought that it was because of some planes that spread pesticides not knowing what kind of disaster we were about to face. The Sewage system is passing underneath Nassery Lake and Khaltabeya Lake and we were thinking of bombing the sewage pipes so it would contaminate everything and cause a disaster for the whole country. We used to earn 300 pounds a day as fishermen while now we don't have anything to eat. I swear to God if they don't discontinue the sewage project or direct it to the Western desert; we will explode the pipes and contaminate both lakes.
My name is Saber Helmy Awad a fisherman from Jizah village, Rosetta branch. I just want to ask the officials what to do since my only income is through the fish in the river. I inherited this job from my ancestors and I didn't get any education and neither will my children since we can't even afford buying food. If a person can't afford buying food, would he choose education over food? Since last August till this June, none of the fishermen have gained any money from their jobs. How can we live like this? The cost of one kilo of fish from fish farms reaches 20 or 25 pounds while fish from the Rosetta branch costs from 1-6 pounds and people don't even want to buy it.
I guarantee you if the sewage project is discontinued, we will lower the price of the kilo of fish to half a pound and fish farms will be out of business. We are half a million fishermen. If we fish at least 20 kilos a day from clean waters, we will provide 5-6 million tons of fish from Rosetta branch alone like before. Trucks used to be loaded with fish from our town to Greater Cairo, Alexandria and Kafr El Sheikh.
I want to ask the officials if they only respond to demands when people make chaos. We could cut off the streets to get their attention but we care about this country for real and we care about the jobs of the employers in our town who only want to earn a living to feed their children. But if we, fishermen, do cause chaos, would you listen to our demands?
In Egypt, there is the ministry of Environmental affairs which make reports about the conditions in Egypt to the World Health Organization confirming that the environment in Egypt is good; however it is inoperative. People there only take their salaries and they don't care about World Health or Egypt Health conditions. 90% of kidney and liver failures are for people who live near the Rosetta branch waters. In addition to the sewage pollution, there is also the untreated factory waste which is full of chemicals like what Israel is threatening the world with. It contains ammonia and other chemical substances which, if directed to the desert, could benefit Egypt in a lot of ways since the desert would be cultivated and we would have so many woods that we can export it instead of importing. Our ancients fathers (pharaohs) used to vow that they wouldn't steal, commit adultery or contaminate the waters of the Nile. Now the officials in Egypt are proud of contaminating it which is mentioned in the holy Quran for being a river from heaven.
The Nile grass used to grow 25-30 cm tall a year when the water was clean; however, now it grows 30 cm a day because of the polluted water. The excavators remove it and 10-15 days later, the water gets blocked again because of the insects, pollution and grass. Beneath the grass, there are like 30 cm long remainings caused by pollution. Without the sewage project, there won't be contamination and thus the grass won't grow that fast.
Although there are 12 million meter daily of pollution that are being disposed into the Nile waters by the factory wastes and sewage, fishermen are the ones who are legally blamed for the polluted waters. Fishermen face a case in trial once every month. This man is charged in one of the cases and he has 1600 fine to pay that he cannot afford. I have a case that I know nothing about and I have objected the case like 50 times. I am to be sentenced for three months in jail and 1600 pound as a fine.
It is an issue of public opinion. I'm sending a call for the whole world and the World Health Organization to care about our cause. My name is Salah Ibrahim and I work as a fisherman. I've got kidney failure because of the pollution in the Nile waters and it causing all the miseries we're living through. I got sick and kept throwing up so I went to the doctor and they informed me that I had kidney failure. I perform renal dialysis three times a week. The government gives me some money as an aid. It is not enough but we're trying to live with it anyway.