Population growth expected as West Africa’s drought persists
A decade ago, the country was booming.
In 2013, the population reached 9.7 million people, nearly double the current level of 1.6 million, according to the latest census data.
The situation is still far from perfect, however, with a massive influx of refugees from neighboring Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone who have fled the violence.
There is no official data on the extent of the drought.
But in recent weeks, the number of people affected by the drought has increased by 50 percent, according the United Nations.
“The population is rising every year,” said Dr. Fadil al-Dhabb, an expert on the region at the University of Maryland.
“It’s a trend we’ve seen in Africa for many years.”
The latest population figures for 2016 are the first since the country’s first census in 1990.
The country recorded 7.7 percent growth last year, and the government is aiming to maintain that rate.
But the drought is also adding to a humanitarian crisis.
The UN estimates that more than 3.8 million people have been affected by food insecurity, and another 2.8 billion are still without adequate food.
“We’re in a crisis in a region where we’re not well equipped to handle it,” said Mohamed Ayoub, a senior researcher at the United States Agency for International Development.
The drought has led to the closure of hundreds of thousands of agricultural and food processing jobs, as well as to a decline in the economic activity of many small businesses.
The International Monetary Fund expects Egypt to miss its 2017 budget targets by $5 billion, or nearly 2 percent of gross domestic product.
In the meantime, a number of projects, including the construction of a large solar power plant, have been postponed.
“In the current situation, we can’t make it happen,” said Ayouh.
“And that’s why we need more people.
We need more food, and more water.”
Al Jazeera’s Aisha Bhatia, reporting from Cairo, contributed to this report.