Australian activist completes Nile River run for water advocacy

Australian activist completes Nile River run for water advocacy
Australian lawyer and activist Mina Guli has completed a 250-kilometre run along Egypt's Nile River to raise awareness about water consumption.
3 min read
25 April, 2017
Guli began her Egypt run in Aswan and ended it in Cairo [Mina Guli]
Australian activist Mina Guli completed a 250-kilometre run along Egypt's Nile River as part of an initiative to raise awareness about water consumption.

Run4Water is part of the sixth sub goal of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which aims to ensure access to clean water and sanitation for all by 2030.

The initiative, which began on March 22 marking World Water Day, includes running the equivalent of 40 marathons in 40 days along six of the most famous rivers in the world in six different continents.

Guli began her Egypt run on April 18, starting with the southern cities of Luxor and Aswan, and ending the run in the capital Cairo five days later.

"This country has the longest history of water management and engineering in the world," the former lawyer said in a blog post after concluding her Nile River run.

"That is why I have come here to run – to learn from those who were the first to tame water, about what can be done to better manage and protect this precious resource."

Guli visited the site of the Aswan High Dam, which provides half of Egypt's power needs, regulates the flow of river and supplies water for irrigation throughout the year, almost doubling the agricultural yield.

"The Aswan Dam stands as a testament to the ability of modern technology to solve ancient problems, to make a nation more sustainable, more resilient and to provide water solutions for all," Guli said.

Egypt, which has a population of 92 million, relies on the Nile for more than 90 percent of its water needs.

It has been classified as "water scarce" since 2005, and by 2025, the UN predicts it will be approaching a state of "absolute water crisis".

"Now is the time for Egyptians to be pioneers of innovation – to adapt ancient techniques to meet the increasing demand for water and those of modern river management systems," Guli said.

Ethiopia, which lies further down the Nile, is building a hydropower dam close to the river's source in its highlands, raising fears for Egypt, which depends on controlling the flow of the Nile's waters for its survival.

Egypt has repeatedly expressed concerns that the $4.2 billion dam would affect its share of Nile water resources, which Ethiopia continues to deny.

Challenging pain

The 46-year-old said the initiative did not come easily, as she was told by many people that she was "too old" and "too fat" to make the run.

"When I first started running in March, I felt like I've bitten off more than I can chew," she said on day 29 of the run, the fourth day in Egypt.

"I have to complete 180km by the end of Sunday. But, I’m not sure how I'm going to do it if I can't run," she explained as she suffered from pain in her legs.

However, despite the pain, Guli managed to complete the challenge, sending an inspiring message at the end of her Egypt run.

"When your body starts to argue that there's no justifiable reason to continue, the only recourse is to call on your spirit and those of the people around you."

Guli's next challenge is to run down the Thames River in London. She began on Monday and is expected to complete the run on May 1.