Egypt's irrigation minister Abdel Atty
Egypt's Minister of Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Atty told parliament on Monday that the national water resources strategy, which is intended to resolve Egypt's water-related issues over the next 20 years, will cost EGP 900 billion.
The strategy involves executing various projects between 2017 to 2037, with a view to achieving certain water-security goals by 2050, when the population is expected to reach 170 million, Abdel Atty said.
The minister was responding to the head of parliament's agricultural subcommittee, who had asked for information on the state of Egypt's water resources and the outcome of negotiations with Ethiopia over its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project.
Abdel Atty said that Egypt needs 114 billion cubic feet of water annually to meet its various needs – including being agriculturally self-sufficient – but it is normally allotted only 60 billion, including both Nile water and ground water.
Egypt's main source of fresh water is the River Nile, which represents 97 percent of all renewable water resources in the country.
The discussion in parliament coincided with Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry's departure for Ethiopia, where he will hold water-related talks with his Ethiopian counterpart Workneh Gebeyehu.
The two men are seeking to "break the deadlock" regarding the work of the tripartite technical committee of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, which is studying the effects of the GERD on downstream countries. The committee will be seeking to reach consensus on ways to avoid harm to all three nations.
Egypt has expressed concern that its share in Nile water will be reduced as a result of the construction of the dam, a suggestion that Ethiopia rejects.
Speaking to parliament, Abdel Atty said that the national water plan will be executed by nine ministries, including housing, agriculture, health, environment and planning, with four key areas of activity.
The first area is the purification and recycling of water, including industrial wastewater. The second is the rationalization of agricultural water consumption of through modern irrigation systems and using seeds that consume less water.
The third is improving new and improved sources of water, such as desalination plants in coastal areas, rainwater collection, and improved cooperation with Nile Basin countries. The fourth area of activity is to establish open and clear communication with the Egyptian population regarding the water-resources situation and the steps being taken by the authorities.