Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad was joined by Minister of Local Development, Mahmoud Shaarawi, on a recent visit to the village of al-Rashda in Egypt’s Western Desert oasis of al-Dakhla.
The village had witnessed a huge fire that erupted on the afternoon of Friday 4 October in palm groves that stretched over an area of some 150 feddans (1 feddan = 4,200sq.m) on the outskirts of the village. Some 47 were injured, cattle died, three houses and a medical clinic were burnt, and some 20,000 palms scorched and charred. The fire was in all probability caused by the burning of agricultural waste in the form of dry palm fronds, but it spread out of hand owing to the heat and strong winds. It raged on for 16 hours till it was put off by army helicopters and ground fire fighters. It has been pronounced by relevant officials as the biggest palm fire the region ever witnessed.
Dr Shaarawi ordered the formation of a committee to recommend measures that would ensure no such fires occur in the future. With that purpose in mind, the New Valley Governor Muhammad al-Zamlout—New Valley is the Western Desert governorate that includes Dakhla oasis—took a number of decisions. These included removal of all waste lying amid the palms, and establishing a safe palm-free belt, 100m wide, between the village and the palm groves.
Dr Fouad, for her part, offered to establish a plant for recycling agriculture waste, in this case the dry palm fronds.
8 October 2018