Egypt could face major droughts by century's end: UN agency

Bassem Abo Alabass in Rio de Janeiro, Friday 22 Jun 2012

Average temperatures in Egypt could be up to 9 degrees higher by the year 2100, greatly reducing coastal rainfall, says delegate at landmark Brazil conference

Egyptians may face troubles with water in next decades (Photo:Reuters)

Egypt could face large-scale drought by the end of the century if it fails to make efficient use of water, according to the director of the environment and climate division at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

The average temperature in Egypt could rise by between two and four degrees Celsius by the end of this century , says Elwyn Grainger with the United Nations-affiliated agency.

It's a change, according to IFAD reports, that could prompt annual rainfall on the Mediterranean coast to fall 20 per cent.
"Most of people have not realised the [potential] disaster yet, and governments needs to make rapid preparations to tackle it," Grainger told Ahram Online. "There are obvious reasons why the public are focusing on immediate issues such as politics, but discussions at this Rio conference have huge implications for Egypt."
Grainger was speaking on the sidelines of Rio+20, the latest United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, held this week in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.
Water availability per capita in the Middle East and North Africa regon is predicted to halve by 2050, even without the effects of climate change, according to IFAD data. The Egyptian government should co-ordinate with the UN to reduce the scale of the problem, Grainger said.
Among the recommended moves are rationalising the amount of water used by industry as well as enacting tight legislation to guard against waste during agricultural irrigation.
While fresh water supplies dwindle, Grainger says a new threat may come from salt water intrusion to coastal areas as climate change could lead to rises in global sea levels that would threaten Egypt's Nile Delta region.
More than 100 heads of state and tens of thousands of participants from governments, the private sector and NGOs headed to Brazil during this month for the Rio+20 conference for sustainable development.
The event aims to break years of deadlock on pressing environmental issues and set up long-term paths towards an environmentally-sustainable future.
Egypt has already heard serious warnings of future water shortages.
In May, the country's National Institute of Planning said Egyptians will need nearly 50 per cent more Nile water by 2050 to cater for an estimated population of 150 million people.
Egypt is currently entitled to 55 bcm of the Nile's total annual flow of around 84 bmc under a treaty with the eight other countries which share the river basin.
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