Egyptian Minister of Irrigation receives WEFE Nexus award 2022

Habiba Hamdy , Wednesday 16 Nov 2022

Egyptian Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Hany Sewilam received the Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems (WEFE) Nexus award 2022 on Wednesday during the activities held as part of the 27th UN Climate Change Summit (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, a statement by the ministry said.

Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Hany Sewilam (left) receives the Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems (WEFE) Nexus award at the climate change summit in Sharm El-Sheikh on Wednesday. (photo courtesy of the Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources)


The minister, who is also the head of the Center for Applied Research on the Environment and Sustainability (CARES) at the American University in Cairo (AUC), won the prize after the model he and his team submitted won first place in an international competition across the Mediterranean.  

According to the statement, the accolade was originally awarded to Sewilam in August by the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA), a joint program with the goal of supporting initiatives that promote knowledge and applicable solutions to climate issues pertaining to water, energy, and food in Mediterranean territories.  

The award is valued at 20,000 Euros and is given to research teams that created and applied successful models in the management of water, energy, food, and ecosystem services at the local or regional level.

Sewilam praised the members of his team for their contribution, arguing that it was up to individuals like them to provide future generations with the knowledge and technology needed to combat water and food security challenges both locally and regionally, the ministry statement said.

He added that the world must rely on science to make his winning model economically viable.   

The story of the winning model

According to the AUC, the model submitted by CARES, which is headed by Sewilam, was evaluated alongside 18 other models submitted from various regions of the Mediterranean.

The model harnesses photovoltaic power (the direct conversion of light into electric power using semiconducting materials) to use in desalination, the AUC said. The desalinated water is then used to produce fish and crops, and the byproduct of desalination — known as brine — is used to grow algae and aquatic crustaceans for fish to feed on.

The model is currently applied at AUC grounds on a small scale. The AUC reported that the model is expected to be adopted in national green projects such as the 1.5 Million Feddan Project and New Delta project, as well as in the development of Sinai.  

Sewliam, who is a professor at AUC, was appointed Minister of Irrigation in August. In addition, he is the founding director of both the Centre for Sustainable Development and the MSc program in sustainable development at AUC.

Sweilam is also the academic director of the Department of Engineering Hydrology at the RWTH Aachen University in Germany as well as being the academic and executive director of the UNESCO Chair on Hydrological Changes and Water Resource Management.

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