New Valley Project
The New Valley Project or Toshka Project consists of building a system of canals to carry water from Lake Nasser to irrigate the sandy wastes of the Western Desert of Egypt, which is part of the Sahara Desert. In 1997 the Egyptian government decided to develop a "new" valley (in addition to the Nile Valley) where agricultural and industrial communities could be developed. It has been an ambitious project which was meant to help Egypt deal with its rapidly growing population. But the indications are that the project was ill-conceived and it looks set to be a grandiose failure.
The canal inlet starts from a site lying 8 km to the north of Toshka Bay (Khor) on Lake Nasser. The canal is meant to continue westwards until it reaches the Darb el-Arbe'ien route, then northwards along the Darb el- Arbe'ien to the Baris Oasis, covering a distance of 310 km. But as of April 2012 the canal is still 60 km short of the Baris Oasis. The Mubarak Pumping Station in Toshka is the centerpiece of the project and was inaugurated in March 2005. It pumps water from Lake Nasser to be transported by way of a canal through the valley, with the idea of transforming 2340 km² (588,000 acres) of desert into agricultural land. The Toshka Project is supposed to be completed in 2020, and the valley has been projected to become home to more than three million residents and to increase Egypt's arable land area by 10%, but there seems little or no chance of this happening.
The essential problem is that the Western Desert’s high saline levels and the presence of underground aquifers in the area act as a major hindrance to any irrigation project. As the land is irrigated, the salt would mix with the aquifers and would reduce access to potable water. There is also the difficulty that the clay minerals found in the soil are posing technical problems to the big wheeled structures moving around autonomously to irrigate the land. Often their wheels get stuck in a little bowl created by wet clay that dried, and the irrigation machines come to a standstill. The only objective met up to April 2012 is the diversion of water from Lake Nasser into what little of the Sheikh Zayed Canal has been built.
- South Valley Development Project in Toshka, Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation
- Egypt's new Nile Valley grand plan gone bad, The National, 22 April 2012
- On Toshka New Valley's mega-failure
- Toshka Project - Mubarak Pumping Station / Sheikh Zayed Canal, Egypt
- Photographs Gallery