Black Clouds in Egypt - Reuters
CAIRO – 25 August 2020: Ministry of Environment prepares to launch measures to confront the recurring annual phenomenon known as “Black Clouds,” resulting from the illegal burning of agricultural leftovers, especially rice straw.
This ugly phenomenon, which blankets Egyptian skies with thick black smoke, occurs annually starting from September and until mid-November; the time when farmers harvest the crop and get rid of the leftovers by burning.
The black clouds are also caused by natural factors, including thermal reflection, as well as human factors such as emissions from vehicles and factories.
The ministry’s plan to control air pollution depends on four pillars, including collecting and recycling rice straw in coordination with Ministry of Agriculture, where equipment for chopping, pressing as well as tractors were made available at subsidized prices to be used by farmers and youths.
"The ministry aims to collect between 500 to 1,000 tons of rice straw this season," said Abdel Wahid, the head of Crisis and Disaster Management department at the Ministry of Environment.
Abdel Wahid added that there is a huge turnout on opening sites to collect rice straw this year, where the ministry received 500 requests thus far.
Several controls were set for rice straw collection, in order to ensure no environmental problem occurs. For instance, the site should be close to a water surface, far from residential areas and electricity transmission plants, and a series of campaigns to raise farmers’ awareness about the importance of the process should be launched.
The ministry further continues to inspect industrial facilities polluting the environment in a bid to reduce the emissions.
The ministry revealed that the recurring air pollution has been reduced over the past 2 years as per the national strategy, which diagnosed the problem according to its causes, where burning agricultural waste represents 42 percent; factory emissions 23 percent; car exhaust 23 percent and burning of municipal waste 12 percent.
“Black Clouds” is the name of the recurring polluting phenomenon the government has been fighting for years, seeking to ban the practice of burning agricultural leftovers, which is only one factor causing the thick smoke blankets over the Nile Delta.
The Black Cloud is regarded as one of the main causes of climate change, and its serious health issues required a more strict approach.