Egypt's per capita water share falls 60 pct in 66 years: CAPMAS

Ahram Online, Wednesday 21 May 2014

Egypt's per capita water resources have dropped significantly in the last seven decades and could reach levels of absolute water scarcity by 2025, government statistics agency reports

A young girl looking at flowing tap water in Egypt. (Photo by Reuters)

Egypt's annual water quota per capita has drastically declined by 60 percent in the last 66 years to reach 663 cubic metres, reported state-owned statistics agency CAPMAS Wednesday.

In its latest report, titled “Water Resources and Means to Rationalise their Use,” CAPMAS revealed that each Egyptian's annual share of water declined from a water surplus of 2,526 cubic metres in 1947 to a sufficient level of 1,972 cubic metres in 1970, and then water poverty with 663 cubic metres in 2013.

Egypt's population was 19 million in 1947, swelling to 35.5 million in 1970 and reaching 85 million in 2013.

The United Nations asserts that a population where per capita annual water resources are below 1,000 cubic metres faces water scarcity.

By 2025, an Egyptian’s share in annual water will drop to 582 cubic metres as forecasted by CAPMAS. A level that approaches absolute water scarcity at 500 cubic metres according to the UN figures.

In 2012, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) warned Egypt could face large-scale drought by the end of the century if it fails to make efficient use of its water.

In addition, temperature fluctuations could prompt a 20 percent drop in rainfall.

Since 2002, water resources available for Egyptians increased by almost 24 percent annuallyto reach 74.5 billion cubic metres.

The share in the Nile River water resources remains the main source of potable water for Egyptians at two thirds of the country’s water resources or 55.5 billion cubic metres annually.

Recycling agriculture drainage water and groundwater are the other two main sources of water for Egyptians, which amount to 9.2 billion cubic metres and 7.5 billion cubic metres respectively.

Other sources include recycling wastewater (1.3 billion cubic metres) and salt water desalination (60 million cubic metres).

But efficient use of the country’s resources is not the only challenge facing Egyptians.

In 2011, Ethiopia started construction of a dam set to be the biggest hydroelectric dam in Africa, producing as much as 6,000 megawatts of energy.

Egypt has repeatedly expressed concern that the dam will affect its share of Nile water. Ethiopia insists this will not happen.

Agriculture, meanwhile, is the biggest user of water, consuming more than 80 percent of water resources available to Egypt.

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