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Nov 19, 2009

Water Poverty Stage - Egypt

Al Ahram newspaper stated (7/19/09) that the Egyptian government has issued a report warning Egyptians about the decreasing availability of water in the near future.

The report revealed that in 1947 individual's share of water was 2600 cu. met./year. In 2003, individual's share decreased by 67% to 860 cu. met./year . It is expected that by the year 2025 individual's share will decrease to 582 cu. met./year.

According to government assessment, water consumption in 2006 was 68 billion cu. met. of water, only 64 billion cu. met. was available. Egypt's water need in 2017 is estimated to be 71.4 billion cu. met./year.

It is a well known fact that the Nile River is the major water source for Egypt. It provides the land with 55.5 billion cu. met./year. This is only 86.7% of Egypt water needs. The Egyptian government expects Egypt's share of the Nile River to drop to 80.5% of its basic needs by 2017.

The Egyptian government plans to tap the underground resources to make up for the future decrease of the Nile's water.

The government report, furthermore, revealed how water is consumed in Egypt. In 2007-2008, 72 billion cu. met. was consumed, 83.3% was used by the agricultural sector, 1.7% by the industrial sector, and 11.8% by homes and human consumption.

Despite future water shortage, the Egyptian government, by the year 2017, is planning to cultivate an additional 3.4 million feddans (acres) in order to meet the challenge of food shortage due to the continuous population increase.

The government's report did not reveal a strategy to meet the shortage of water, nor did it reveal a plan to change the traditional method of water irrigation which consumes a high percentage of water.

In an article in Al Ahram International (5/11/01), Dr. Alaa Yassin mentioned that various types of crops require different amounts of water. For instance, one feddan of sugar cane requires on the average 12,000 cu. met. of water compared to 4,000 cu. met. for one feddan of beets. Furthermore, one feddan of rice needs 9500 cu. met. of water as opposed to 4500 c. met. of water for one feddan of corn. Hence, some diversification in the types of agricultural crops, based on scientific methods, could save water for further agricultural development.

In conclusion I would like to stress the fact that new methods and new technologies for irrigation need to be implemented. Egypt does have professional experts able to meet the challenge, and create new modern irrigation techniques, based on scientific methods, that will save the consumption of water and secure Egypt's future. The sooner it is undertaken the better it will be for Egypt.

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