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The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

Only by understanding the motivations of the various factions in the Middle East can we hope to understand how to promote peace and national security for Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and the United States.

Apr 19, 2010

Water - Egypt Most Urgent Challenge

During the past few years, Egypt has been meeting with the Nile River Basin countries, which include the Congo, Burundi, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and Eritrea. Sudan and Egypt are classified as the countries at the end of the Nile River flow.

In a previous post, a reference was made to the fact that Egypt and the Nile River basin countries signed a treaty in 1929 when Britain was the colonialist power in the region. The agreement allocated 55 billion cu. met. of water per year to Egypt. The agreement stated that no project that can threaten Egypt’s water share should be undertaken by any member. The Nile River basin countries want a reevaluation of the 1929 agreement in order to develop their own agricultural and economic projects. A number of foreign countries are already involved in various projects of the Nile River basin countries. These include Israel, the U.S., China, Egypt and other states.

At a recent conference that was held in Sharm el-Sheikh (almasry-alyoum.com April 14, 2010), no agreement of understanding between Egypt and the Nile River basin countries was achieved. The meeting ended without any consensus of water sharing.

Some water experts suggested putting aside the 1929 agreement and instead creating an International Legal Commission to recommend how the Nile River water should be allocated. The committee would be the sole authority to come up with the rules of regulation in order to avoid conflict among the countries that are sharing the Nile River water. The focus of such a proposal is to accommodate economic development and cooperation among all the countries that rely on the Nile River for their survival. Egypt in particular is at the end line of the flow of the Nile River and its water is a matter of life and death for the country.

Furthermore, Egypt should start developing a new water strategy in light of its population growth and the increasing demands for water. It should also be taken into consideration that Egypt’s share of the Nile River water might decrease due to future increase of water consumption by the Nile River basin countries.

The Egyptian government should re-examine its water management policy and develop a new strategy that will meet the new challenges. For example, the agriculture sector consumes nearly 80% of the water supply in Egypt. A new technology is required that should be implemented to save water, but at the same time produces crops needed to feed Egypt’s increasing population.

Furthermore, a nationwide program to raise awareness of Egypt’s water poverty is necessary to enlighten the public, especially in urban areas where people are under the illusion that there is plenty of water available. Conservation should be a must policy and an increase in the water consumption bills must be adopted.

I am of the opinion that the Nile River basin countries will put their interests ahead of Egypt’s interests in term of their economic development. These countries are encouraged by foreign governments, in particular Israel’s, to proceed with their development. Again, the Egyptian government should be prepared to face the forthcoming challenges.

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