Housing minister, Moustafa Madbouly (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Egypt needs LE100 billion ($12.9 billion) to extend water sanitation services to all its cities and rural areas, said housing minister Moustafa Madbouly.
The existing sewage system covers 80 percent of cities in urban areas, and only 15 percent of rural villages due to unplanned population growth, the minister told talk show host Osama Kamal on Egyptian satellite channel El-Qahera Wa El-Nas on Saturday.
Heavy rains in the last two months exposed decaying infrastructure in the coastal city of Alexandria and the nearby Beheira governorate, causing flooding which led to the deaths of some 20 people, as well as damage to property and thousands of acres of agricultural land.
In response to the crisis, the government announced earlier in November that it had allocated LE1.75 billion from the state budget for water and sanitation spending in the current fiscal year, for which it had previously allocated just LE750 million in the previous fiscal year.
The ministry has presented a programme to extend water sanitation services to 50 percent of villages within the coming 2.5 to 3 years with the help of grants and loans from international organisations, said Madbouly.
“We have facilitated loans worth close to $2 billion (LE15.5 billion) for these projects, in addition to the state budget,” said Madbouly.
In October, the World Bank signed off on a $550 million loan to Egypt to improve sanitation services in the Nile Delta.
After that, it will take five to seven years to expand the sewage network to cover the remaining 50 percent of rural villages, said Madbouly.
Egypt also needs investments amounting to around LE9 billion to expand access to running water in the coming two-and-a-half years, Madbouly said.
Although 97 percent of Egyptian households have access to running water, according to the minister, the major problem they face is frequent cuts.
“We produce enough water to more than meet the needs of the Egyptian population,” said the minister, blaming the cuts on unbalanced distribution. “Some governorates have a lack of water,” he said, citing Giza and Qalioubiya near Cairo, “and some have more than necessary.”