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VeryNile builds plastic pyramid to highlight river pollution

Last weekend, to observe the World Cleanup Day, volunteers from Egypt built a pyramid made from plastic collected at the banks of River Nile to highlight environmental conservation.

A group of volunteers in Egypt have taken part in a cleaning exercise along the River Nile to highlight how important protecting the environment and saving marine life is to combat climate change.

Egypt is preparing to host this year’s COP27 event in November. The cleanup activity was launched by VeryNile, a non-governmental organization dedicated to protection of the world’s longest river, Nile. The pyramid itself was built from about 200,000 collected plastic waste scraps from the river and weighs about 7,500 kilograms.

The plastic pyramid signifies how big the pollution problem is affecting the river in comparison to the actual Egyptian pyramids. Millions of people from Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan, and Ethiopia depend on the river for agriculture, drinking, and industrial use. However, an increase in pollution has decreased food production and limited access to clean water mostly in Egypt.

VeryNile is supported by the country’s Ministry of Environment and materials for the pyramid were collected by local fishermen who were paid to cleanup deep river areas where they usually operate.

The Nile pollution problem

Water scarcity is currently affecting millions who depend on the Nile for daily use. A lack of rainfall due to change in weather patterns has left most of the country dry, according to the UN.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that agriculture accounts for about 28% of total employment in Egypt, contributing to at least 11% of the country’s GDP.

Egypt’s staple food is rice, which is highly dependent on water for its cultivation and growth. Farmers have been given tight restrictions on water usage and land access, pushing many to look for other alternative crops.


Plastics become entangled in water plants that grow along the Nile banks, making it impossible for cleaning volunteers to reach. Through the help of fishermen, some has been cleared despite the difficulty.

The Nile is mostly polluted by untreated industrial wastes and leakages. The wastes contain chemicals dangerous to life and have affected fishing.

According to the UN, the presence of heavy metals in the river pose a health risk to the population. Poisonous lead has caused a large number of fish to die and reduced the agricultural production in most areas along the Nile where the soil is fertile.

What has been the response?

The Egyptian government has implemented strict laws on the disposal of waste materials into the river.

Companies are expected to treat waste and dispose of it responsibly to reduce water pollution. Additionally, regulating the type and number of industries disposing off their wastes in River Nile has allowed for easy cleaning of the river by non-governmental organizations and agencies.

The Ministry of Agriculture has encouraged farmers to use treated water for irrigation. This allows for an increase in crop production which, in turn, allows workers to meet the high demanded for rice and other foods.

Non-governmental organizations such as VeryNile are taking action to educate and create awareness on the importance of protecting the environment.