Egypt signs three agreements with FAO to address water scarcity

Ahram Online , Thursday 1 Jun 2023

Egypt's Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources has signed three agreements with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on water consumption rationalization projects financed by the Netherlands and Japan, read a cabinet statement on Thursday.

Minister of Irrigation during the signing ceremony.
Minister of Irrigation during the signing ceremony. Cabinet.

The first project aims to survey the productivity of land and water resources via remote sensing. It is the second phase of a project developed in partnership with the government of the Netherlands.

"The project bolsters the irrigation ministry's ability to take appropriate decisions to improve agricultural practices and manage water resources efficiently," Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Hani Sewilam said.

The second project aims to increase water productivity for agriculture and is developed in partnership with the Japanese government.

The third project is developed in partnership with the Dutch government to modernize irrigation techniques to improve the quality of life for small farmers in Upper Egypt.

"[The second and third projects] complement the ministry's strategy to apply modern irrigation systems in sandy lands, sugarcane, and gardens; and to replace watercourses by solar-powered compressed pipes working with the single lifting point system," Sewilam added.

Egypt’s water scarcity

During an event hosted by the Arab Water Council, CEDARE and Egyptian Water Partnership in Cairo on Tuesday, Sewilam said that climate change and water scarcity pose challenges to Egypt's achieving food security and meeting water needs.

In March, Sewilam said Egypt’s annual share of water has reached 500 m3 per person at a time when the United Nations has set water scarcity at 1,000 m3 of water per person per year.

He added that Egypt is one of the driest countries in the world, relying almost exclusively on the water of the Nile River.

More than 85 percent of Egypt’s river waters flow from the Ethiopian highlands through the Blue Nile — one of the Nile’s two main tributaries along with the White Nile. 

The country, with a population estimated at over 104 million and expected to increase by 75 million by 2050, overcomes water scarcity by importing 54 percent of its virtual water, which is the embedded water required to produce commodities, and reusing 42 percent of its renewable water as per its National Water Resources Plan 2017-37.

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