Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Atti during the second edition of the Cairo Water Week Forum 2019 - Press photo
CAIRO - 21 October 2019: Egypt has set a program to effectively manage the use of water to meet people’s needs until 2037, with investments of approximately $50 billion, said Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Atti.
This came in the minister's speech at the second edition of the Cairo Water Week Forum (CWW) 2019 on Sunday.
The minister explained that one of the core themes of this program is the reuse of 3 million cubic meters of wastewater per day. In mitigation, Egypt is building the sewage water treatment plant to face water shortage that could affect around 0.5 million people in Sinai.
The plant, located east the Suez Canal, will treat sewage and agricultural wastewater of the longest drain (Bahr al-Baqar 1 drain). It will produce 5 million cubic meters per day to cultivate 250,000 feddans.
Abdel Atti clarified that the country uses modern technologies to produce water with an efficiency of 85 percent.
The government will also depend on desalination water plants to feed the needs of the population of the coastal cities along the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, targeting the production of 3 billion meters annually by 2030, Abdel Atti revealed.
Minister Abdel Atti added that Egypt has established a number of small dams to collect and store rainwater as the country collected more than 3, 000 cubic meters in North Sinai over the last period.
Furthermore, the minister reviewed the main challenges that Egypt faces, including the population increase that now exceeds 100 million people and is expected to jump to 170 million people by 2050. He said that the government is implementing projects to protect the delta from sinking as climate change has led to a rise in the sea level.
"The gap between water consumption and production has reached 90 percent," the minister noted.
Ethiopia’s controversial dam
“Any unilateral change in the Nile River course would severely affect Egypt,” said Minister Abdel Atti in his speech at the second edition of the Cairo Water Week Forum (CWW) 2019 on Sunday.
The minister’s remarks refer to the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) as both Egypt and Ethiopia are at loggerheads over the $4-billion dam; Cairo voiced concern over its water share after Ethiopia started building the dam on the Blue Nile in May 2011.
A series of tripartite talks between the two countries along with Sudan has begun in 2014. One year later, the three countries reached an agreement, per which the downstream countries [Egypt and Sudan] should not be negatively affected by the construction of the dam. However, Cairo and Addis Ababa have recently blamed each other for hindering a final agreement concerning a technical problem.
The 2019 round of the CWW comes under the theme “Responding to Water Scarcity”. Other sub-sessions will be held on Research and Innovation in facing water scarcity; non-conventional water resource use; Cooperation in Water Sector; and Climate Change Impacts, Mitigation, and Adaptation.
The first edition of the CWW convened in October 2018 under the auspices of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in a way to increase the public awareness of water rationalization for the sustainable development amid a state of water shortage.