EU granted Egypt €550 mln since 2007 to overcome water challenges: Berger on World Water Day

Aya Gamal, Monday 13 Mar 2023

The European Union (EU) has provided Egypt with more than €550 million in grants since 2007 to help it overcome its water challenges, head of the EU delegation to Egypt Christian Berger said on Sunday at a celebration organised by the EU and Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources on the occasion of World Water Day

Head of the EU Delegation to Egypt Christian Berger (L) and Egyptian Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Hani Sweilam in a joint event on Sunday on the occasion of World Water Day. (Photo courtesy of Egyptian MInistry of Irrigation and Water Resources)




The EU has also been leveraging concessional funds of nearly €3 billion to Egypt since 2007, thanks to European financial institutions, for Egypt to follow up on its Sustainable Development Strategy, he added.

During his speech, the head of the EU delegation cited ancient Greek historian Herodotus who said “Egypt is the gift of the Nile.” Berger noted that the person's share in Nile water in Egypt in the coming decade “will decrease by 22 percent, only due to population growth.”

This might lead to a significant threat to water quality, and hence the overall quality of life, he added.

The EU's current co-funded programmes in Egypt cover 16 governorates, providing jobs, mainly in rural areas, which shall help improve the quality of life for nearly 20 million inhabitants in Egypt, he added.

Egyptian Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Hani Sewilam said Egypt’s annual share of water has reached 500 m3 per person at a time when the United Nations has set water scarcity at 1,000 m3 of water per person per year. He added that Egypt is one of the driest countries in the world, relying almost exclusively on the water of the Nile River.

More than 85 percent of Egypt’s river waters flow from the Ethiopian highlands through the Blue Nile — one of the Nile’s two main tributaries along with the White Nile. 

The country, with a population estimated at over 104 million and expected to increase by 75 million by 2050, overcomes water scarcity by importing 54 percent of its virtual water, which is the embedded water required to produce commodities, and reusing 42 percent of its renewable water as per its National Water Resources Plan 2017-37.

This comes amid the stalled negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on which Egypt has been negotiating with Ethiopia since 2011 to reach a legally binding agreement that regulates the rules of filling and operating the dam.

Egypt fears that the massive $4.8 billion Ethiopian hydropower project will significantly diminish its crucial water supply, which is already below scarcity level. 

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