Food and crops cannot grow without water. Therefore most populations are heavily populated near a water source. But in some parts of the world water supply and rainfall can be uncertain. In these regions, irrigation is used to help farmers grow crops. Irrigation means bringing water to the crops that need it, using canals, ditches, piping and spraying techniques. The food helps feed the world's increasing population.
The Nile river is the longest river on earth with a length of 6,671km. It flows from the Sahara up to the Mediterranean. Most of Eygpt's 85 million people are found around the floodplains and the delta of the Nile. Each year the floodplains are underwater for several weeks due to annual floods because of the heavy rain in East Africa. When the water levels decrease people grow their crops on the damp soil that has been fertilised by the sediments carried by the Nile. In the 1960s the construction of the dam began. In 1975 the dam was completed and millions of tonnes of water were stored in the Lake Nasser. This water was released across farmlands by canals and water pipes. Because of this farmers could grow crops all throughout the year which provided food for Egypt's growing population. The irrigation system, however, did have some disadvantages: a)The was no longer the annual flooding of the Nile. Because of this all the sediments remained at the bottom of Lake Nasser and farmers now had to buy expensive fertiliser. b)The canals that distributed the water became overrun by water snails which carry diseases harmful to humans. c)Because all the extra water is stored in Lake Nasser, it means a lot of it is lost in evaporation. Egypt is also developing a plan to irrigate the Western Desert. They plan to build a canal from Lake Nasser to oases. This will allow people in crowded to areas to migrate to these oases to begin a new life.
Around the Mediterranean coast, France experiences hot, dry weather. This is suited for tourism and not agriculture. Around the coast of Languedoc, only vines are grown. Before irrigation, they were off very poor quality and so farmers were very poor. In the 1960s, an irrigation scheme was established so that water would be pumped from the river Rhone and other local rivers. Irrigation canals were built along the coastal plains, supply water to farms. Over the years, the region changed thanks to irrigation in the area. The farmers now had the ability to produce a variety of crops. They could now grow salad crops like lettuces, cucumber and spring onions. They also produced potatoes, cauliflowers, sunflowers, aubergines and artichokes which were sold in the city and local tourist resorts. Because of irrigation, Languedoc is now highly farmed. And the standard of living has increased as the farmers are paid much better.