Egypt, US launch first annual International Water Symposium in Alexandria

Ahram Online , Tuesday 6 Sep 2022

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Egypt’s Ministry of Higher Education launched this week in Alexandria the First International Water Symposium to discuss the latest advancements in the water sector and find a solution to the effects of the climate crisis, whether in the country or around the world.

International Water Symposium in Alexandria
USAID Egypt Mission Director Leslie Reed Speaking at the opening session of the First International Water Symposium in Alexandria on Tuesday 6 September, 2022. Photo courtesy US embassy in Egypt.

According to the USAID, the symposium is hosted by Alexandria University through the Centre of Excellence for Water, a $30 million USAID-funded project that links academic researchers from Egypt and the US with public and private sector partners to influence public policy, promote efficient water use, and develop practical solutions for water management.

The symposium involves the participation of six Egyptian and four American universities: the American University in Cairo, Alexandria University, Ain Shams University, Aswan University, Beni Soueif University, and Zagazig the University in Egypt and Utah State, Washington State, Temple University, and the University of California-Santa Cruz in the United States.

“Around the world, climate change and growing populations are putting pressure on water resources, and by bringing together US and Egyptian experts in the fields of water security and climate change, we are advancing the US government’s global water strategy, which lays out a vision for a water secure world where floods and droughts are managed, and people have sustainable supplies of water,” USAID Egypt Mission Director Leslie Reed said in the opening session of the symposium.

According to the USAID, since 1978, the United States has provided Egypt with more than $30 billion (EGP 577 billion) in economic assistance, including more than $3.5 billion (EGP 67 billion) to bring clean water and sanitation services to over 25 million Egyptians.

Egypt — which is considered one of the most water-scarce countries in the world — receives around 60 billion cubic metres (bcm) of water annually, mainly from the Nile. However, its needs stand at around 114 bcm, placing the 103-million-plus population country well below the international threshold for water scarcity.

In recent years, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has been of concern to Egypt, as the country fears the unilateral and quick filling and operation of the GERD will have a negative impact on its water supply.

Some 85 percent of the Nile’s waters in Egypt flow from the Ethiopian highlands through the Blue Nile – one of the Nile’s two main tributaries, along with the White Nile.

The large gap in water resources in Egypt is overcome by importing 54 percent of its virtual water and reusing 42 percent of its renewable water, according to previous statements by the irrigation ministry.

In recent years, the Egyptian government expanded water desalination projects

According to statements by Housing Minister Assem El-Gazzar in 2020, Egypt wants to invest some EGP 134.2 billion through 2050 to build seawater-desalination plants with a capacity of 6.4 million cubic metres per day of potable water.

As many as 82 water desalination plants were established in recent years with a combined capacity of 917,000 cubic meters.

In September 2021, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi inaugurated the water treatment plant of Bahr Al-Baqar, the largest of its kind worldwide, at a cost of EGP 20 billion and with a production capacity of 5.6 million cubic metres per day.

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