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Why Egypt’s poorest need environmental rights the most

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Amid the campaigning in the run-up to the referendum, the content of the draft constitution has mostly gone unnoticed. People are caught up in “Sisi mania,” or boycotting the vote because they feel that the draft process was flawed.

The media focus has been on the military’s blanket propaganda, which just says “vote yes.” People campaigning for a “no” vote have been arrested. Meanwhile, the environmental rights the draft constitution enshrines have been overlooked.

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Egypt’s Substantive State Outside the Shell of Politics

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While the rest of the world continues to focus on the Egypt that is bogged down in a quagmire of political disintegration, I choose to focus on the parts of Egypt that remain and continue to function throughout, not in a sedentary fashion, but in a stabilising state-building fashion.

At this point, when the political discourse is so damaged and bruised that optimistic suggestions of reform etc will be blown away on the collective exhale of held breath, we must look to the other side of the equation too: the side that constitutes the State away from politics. This might seem like a foreign concept to many, and certainly in formal terms the definition of a ‘State’ is not settled; but in simple terms, and in Egyptian terms, the State is far more, in fact is spectacularly more, than mere government and its bureaucracy.

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Flying: supporting development, or cultural cover-ups & democratic deficits?

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The view from the panoramic windows of Cairo airport reveal great stretches of grey tarmac fading out into beige sand and vague desert in the distance. Perched on the grey tarmac are 3 winged creatures, sometimes the odd little yellow and black van skirts across the expanse like a bee from flower to flower, and sometimes a cockroach-like flat yellow machine appears from under the planes, before creeping across the tarmac and attaching itself to another. The view is too big for humans, it feels too big to exist within, and its more than I can take in. Yet rely on it we do.

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Some talk about damned dams

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Whilst leaders in the neighouring Nile countries of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan bicker over the building of a dam by the Ethiopian Government, lets lay down some facts.

The dam in Ethiopia is rumoured to restrict or according to some, cut off, Egypt from Nile water, leaving it without access to the main source of bounty and green in this country. This is not true. The Ethiopian dam will use a tributary of the Nile and because it is a power dam (i.e not a drinking water or agricultural dam) it will not lead to the consumption of the water, but the use of its mass as it is rerouted through the dam, to create electricity. Except for the evaporated water (which is half the level in Ethiopia than it would it would be in Egypt: 10billion cubic m/year v 5million cubic m/year), there will be no less water coming out than went in, like the technique used by the Egyptian Aswan dam to create sustainable reserves of water through good water management.

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Planet earth: your home, your history and your legacy. Be struck by its beauty, excuse the preachy ending, but be inspired.

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