Egypt, European partners sign deal to expand Helwan's wastewater treatment plant

Ahram Online , Tuesday 31 May 2022

Egypt's Ministry of Housing Utilities and Urban Communities singed on Tuesday an agreement with the European Union (EU), the French Development Agency (AFD), and the European Investment Bank (EIB) to upgrade the Helwan wastewater treatment plant in southern Cairo.

Helwan seawater treatment plant


The funding partnership aims to expand the capacity of the Helwan plant by 250,000 cubic metres per day to accommodate increasing wastewater discharge from the rising population in the area, according to a joint statement.

The expansion will serve 2.2 million inhabitants of south Cairo with advanced wastewater collection and treatment services until 2037 and will allow the plant to tackle the overflow of wastewater that is currently harming the environmental and social situation.

The statement added that the plant is one of the first in Egypt to implement tertiary treatment to enable the use of treated wastewater in irrigation.

The project shall significantly contribute to climate change adaptation targets through substituting fresh water used in irrigation from the Nile River with treated wastewater.

The plant will also generate renewable energy from biogas, aiming to provide 60 percent of its own energy needs, reducing the project’s carbon footprint and electricity costs.

The statement noted that the EU, AFD and EIB are joining forces to expand Egypt’s wastewater treatment coverage and to contribute to Egypt’s Vision 2030 and the recently launched 2050 National Strategy for Climate Change.

The European partners will jointly contribute to funding the project including a EUR 25.1 million grant from the EU delegated to the AFD, the lead financier, a EUR 52 million loan from AFD and a EUR 78 million loan from EIB, to be completed by a contribution from the Egyptian government.

“Signing the Helwan Wastewater Treatment Plant agreement today is one significant step in the implementation of the EU flagship project supported by the Economic and Investment Plan to provide two million inhabitants with high quality sanitation services in rural areas and to create jobs for more than 2,000 people," said Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi during the ceremony.

Varhelyi added that this project also positively contributes to the climate change mitigation and adaptation principles.

AFD’s Deputy CEO Marie-Hélène Loison said "AFD continues its commitment to assisting Egypt in achieving its Vision 2030 targets and in preparing the roadmap to SDGs achievements by 2030 through the Helwan wastewater treatment plant, which is real example for infrastructure projects utilising technology for both mitigation and adaptation to climate change."

The project will contribute to the water sector through expanding the treatment capacity for wastewater and providing non-conventional water source for irrigation, hence promoting a circular economy approach, added Loison.

Egypt has already established 82 desalination plants with a combined capacity of 917,000 cubic metres per day.

Work is underway to establish 14 additional seawater desalination plants to increase the total production capacity of such projects to 1.4 million cubic metres per day.

The aforementioned efforts are part of Egypt's plans to provide alternative sources of drinking water through desalination in coastal governorates and the reuse of treated water.

Egypt’s annual share of water is 560 cubic metres per person, placing the populous country well below the international threshold for water scarcity.

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