Securing water resources – Egypt – Al-Ahram Weekly

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is considering desalination projects in Egypt, EIB water sector expert Walid Salem said this week.

Coastal protection in Egypt is an area where the EIB is working closely with national authorities to identify potential investments in line with sustainable blue economy financing principles, Salem told Al-Ahram Weekly. These guide the sustainable use and conservation of the oceans, seas and marine resources.

The EIB is currently one of the world’s largest investors in water resources, with nearly €79 billion invested in more than 1,600 projects. According to Salem, water and sanitation projects are among the priorities of projects implemented in Egypt, including major national programs such as the presidential Decent Life initiative.

Together with the European Union, the EIB has provided Egypt with EUR 1 billion in financing to date to support 23 projects, including integrated development projects for wastewater treatment in Alexandria and Kafr Al-Sheikh, projects aimed at reducing pollution of Egyptian lakes and the Mediterranean and the Fayoum wastewater treatment plant.

Egypt is entering a phase of water poverty by international rates and standards. According to the UN, the definition of water poverty determines the per capita share of 1,000 cubic meters of water per year. Today, the share of water per capita in Egypt has declined to the equivalent of 550 or 580 cubic meters, or about half the water poverty rate.

The Minister of Local Development, Mahmoud Shaarawi, announced these figures during his participation in a symposium on water security in Africa on the sidelines of the ninth session of the African Cities Summit (Africities 2022), which was held May 17-21 in the Kenyan town of Kisumu, according to a May 19 ministry statement.

During the symposium, Shaarawi presented Egypt’s position regarding its water situation. He said that Egypt has a strong policy of rationalizing its water resources, as evidenced by its national canal lining project and the development of a modern irrigation system to conserve water, treat waste water agricultural and sanitary drainage, desalinate sea water and purify lakes.

According to Shaarawi, all state ministries and institutions are making great efforts in all governorates to implement directives from political leaders and the prime minister to preserve every drop of water and make the best use of resources. in water from Egypt.

The symposium also focused on the Nile as a lifeline for the Egyptian people, stressing the importance of working to ensure that water on the African continent is a tool for cooperation between African countries and not a tool fostering disputes or tensions. The water issue is affected by climate change in the countries of the African continent, the minister said, adding that all parties must take into account their water security.

Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has long been an issue of concern regarding water security in Egypt, and Egypt has been vocal over the past decade about its concern that the GERD reduce its share of the waters of the Nile.

Egypt, along with Sudan, has asked Ethiopia to sign a legally binding agreement on policies for filling and operating the dam, but the upstream country has yet to do so.

However, even before the GERD, Egypt had approached the water poverty line, water treatment technology specialist Haitham Al-Kott told The Weekly.

He said the expansion of desalination projects could provide security, pointing out that Egypt pays special attention to desalination projects among other efforts.

Over the past week, International Cooperation Minister Rania Al-Mashat said the government was offering low-cost financial packages to the private sector to carry out water desalination and other projects through cooperation with financial institutions such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Bank and the European Investment Bank.

At a press conference on Sunday, Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli said water desalination, canal lining and irrigation modernization projects were part of the state’s efforts to secure every drop of water. ‘water.

He said that Egypt has historical rights to the Nile water, but it does not oppose development projects in the Nile Basin countries, and that some projects are carried out by Egyptian companies working in these countries. “Egypt stands by its water rights and does not oppose development projects in the Nile Basin countries,” Madbouli said.

Environment and water resources expert Ahmed Abdallah said the water desalination and wastewater treatment projects are needed at present given Egypt’s internal and external challenges.

He added that there is a golden opportunity for the private sector to attract foreign investment in such projects.

Last month, a government official announced that Egypt would tender 19 water desalination projects with a combined production capacity of 3.3 million cubic meters of water per day and a combined investment of about LE 72 billion. This will be done through public-private partnerships.

Housing Minister Assem Al-Gazzar said in 2020 that Egypt wants to invest some LE 134.2 billion until 2050 to build seawater desalination plants with a capacity of 6.4 million cubic meters of drinking water per day.

Egypt last year inaugurated the world’s largest sewage treatment plant, the 18 billion Bahr Al-Baqar plant. Water security remains a key priority for Egypt, as threats posed by GERD and climate change have prompted the government to place water at the forefront of its development plans.

*A version of this article appeared in the May 26, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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