Saturday, December 24, 2011

Water Sharing worries the Arab world due luck of Data management system- almasryalyoum

Data-sharing is part of the answer to the Arab region’s water challenge
<p><br /><br /> A local sailboat, known as faluka, sails in the River Nile on the outskirts of Cairo on May 18, 2010. Four African countries signed on May 14 a new treaty on the equitable sharing of the Nile waters despite strong opposition from Egypt and Sudan who have the lion's share of the river waters.</p>
Photographed by AFP
Water is potentially a matter of conflict and death as well as life in the Arab region, which is why it is such a sensitive subject on the ground and in negotiations for United Nations conferences such as the Eye on Earth Summit in Abu Dhabi (12–16 December) and next year’s Rio+20 meeting in Brazil.
Negotiators for the countries in the region have many concerns, but it almost always comes back to water, they say.
Fittingly, water was selected as one of the Eye on Earth’s "special initiatives" that the meeting recommends should be taken to Rio+20.
Arab world concern with water is not surprising, because the region is one of the driest in the world. A report by the Arab Forum for Environment and Development, based in Beirut, says that more than 70 percent of the land is dry and rainfall is sparse and poorly distributed. And it’s likely to get worse: "Climate change will exacerbate the situation," says the report.
It quotes climate change models that suggest that by the end of the century Arab countries will see a 25 percent reduction in rainfall, and a similar increase in evaporation rates: "As a result, rain-fed agriculture will be threatened, with average yields estimated to decline by 20 percent."
Bringing the message home to the Eye on Earth participants, the secretary general of the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED), Najib Saab, said, "Almost three years from now, the average share of renewable water in a UAE will be 26 cubic meters a day for every person ... and the annual per capita share in the Arab world will be less than 500 cubic meters, which is below one-tenth of the world’s average of 6000 cubic meters."
This is a real and growing crisis. One of the responses is a feeling that the challenge can be met only by the sharing of data and cooperation. No country can face this alone.
Public awareness
This is the view of most delegates from the region at Abu Dhabi. But agreeing on a regional approach is not always easy.
There is another problem, too: Water professionals are concerned that public awareness of the full extent of water problems, present and future, is limited.
In a panel discussion during the Eye on Earth Summit, Mohamed al-Madfaei,deputy manager of environmental strategy and policy coordination at the Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi, identified the lack of a regional approach to awareness of water problems as key.
People don’t know how to use water carefully, he said. "Water awareness programs seek to create a global network to support coordination, and they seek to educate people."
He cited the examples of the Heroes of UAE campaign, which focuses on educating children on environmental issues, including water, so that they can influence their families, Clean-UP UAE, and the country’s national Paper-Less Day on 3 June.
And awareness is not simply a top-down matter. "Governments need some awareness too," Najib Saab told SciDev.Net.
Governments could take responsibility by establishing policies to encourage greater efficiency in the use of water resources. This would send a strong message to the public that using water costs money.
Bad decision-making
Policy is also a concern of Rachael McDonnell, a Dubai-based water specialist with the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture. She told SciDev.Net that a "limited policy development process" was part of the water scarcity problems in the Middle East and North Africa region: governments, she said, thought mainly in terms of short-term policies.
She also pinpointed the problems that inevitably arise when it comes to sharing data.
"There are big difficulties in getting water data or sharing it, even within the same country, and this leads to bad decision-making,” she said. She summed up the problem: “Scarce data in a water-scarce region."
There are good examples of sharing, however. "Our water data are available online," declared Madfaei. "We don’t hide any of them."
Nevertheless, Madfaei told SciDev.Net that he agreed that "with water security, it is very difficult." In the Gulf, he said, countries tend to cooperate, and there is no water conflict. The problem occurs mostly between countries that share water, such as Egypt and other countries along the Nile.
"A lot of countries have conflicts with regards to water, and with quotas and water-sharing as well. Maybe that’s a challenge but in the end it is up to people's political will to try to find a compromise," he said.
Faris Sayegh, senior consultant at GPC Global Information Solutions (GPC-GIS), "a global network of information professionals," said that some countries took national security as a reason to hide water information, but it was a wrong approach: information could help solve, rather than exacerbate, water conflicts.
"The conflict between Egypt and Ethiopia over the waters of the Nile is a good example of how sharing data is important," he explained.
"Egypt claims that new Ethiopian dams will significantly affect its water share, and Ethiopia is underestimating the impact of building the dams. So in this case, sharing data with independent institutions capable of analyzing the statistics could help solve this conflict."
It sounds promising. But, as already indicated, the path to sharing and cooperation is never straightforward. Mohamed A. Dawoud, manager of the water resources department at Environment Agency–Abu Dhabi, injects a note of reality: "Making all the water data available is not correct. Countries should allow access only to relevant data."

Friday, December 23, 2011

Egypt and Sudan still want to Keep their colonial share of the Nile waters according to the Sudan Vision

Egyptian-Sudanese Nile Water Authority to Meet in Cairo Tuesday

The Joint Nile Water Permanent Technical Committee is to convene its meeting in Cairo during the period December 20-22 this year.
The Sudanese delegation will be headed by the minister of water resources, Dr. Salah Yousif, and his Egyptian counterpart, Dr. Hisham Gandeil.
The meeting will discuss the latest development in the cooperation mechanism of coordination with other Nile Basin countries.
In addition, the meeting will discuss the latest development in the technical cooperation and water development projects in South Sudan which was reached according to a memorandum of understanding signed with the government of South Sudan for implementing a number of development projects under a $26.6 million Egyptian grant.
The meeting will also discuss the position of flood this year and indictor of next year flood.
According to MENA, Gandeil told reporters yesterday that the most important issues that will be discussed in the meeting will be the unification of the visions of both Egypt and Sudan in advance of the extraordinary meeting of Nile Basin ministers of water to be held in Burundi in January next year as regards the framework agreement and how to preserve the historic rights in Nile water of both Egypt and Sudan.
At the Burundi meeting, the Sudanese side will be headed by the chairman of Nile Water Authority, Engineer Ibrahim Saleh, while the Egyptian side will be headed by chairman of Nile Water Authority at the Permanent Technical Authority meeting, Dr. Mohammed Abdel Atti.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Boutros Boutros-Ghali,Ex-U.N. head says Egypt's big problems being ignored | Reuters

(Reuters) - Egypt's new politicians must shift focus from winning votes at home to securing support abroad if they are to solve pressing problems of an economy in tailspin, a looming water shortage and population explosion, a former U.N. chief said on Sunday.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali, an Egyptian who was the United Nations secretary general from 1992 to 1996, said his nation's problems were being ignored by the new political class, including Islamist parties which have taken an early lead in parliamentary elections.

"The problems of Egypt cannot be solved in Egypt. They need the cooperation of other countries," he told Reuters, adding that Cairo's position at the heart the Middle East would force its new leaders to look outwards.

Following the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak in February, Egypt is inching towards a new era of democratic rule, with the Islamists emerging from decades of repression as a powerful force in mainstream politics.

"My opposition to the fundamentalist (Islamist) movement is not to the movement in itself. It is the fact that they will close the doors and isolate themselves," the 89-year-old said.

"There are problems that no one is talking about, and these are the urgent ones," he said, speaking from the offices of the Egyptian National Council of Human Rights, a body he heads.

One headache is the fading economy, with tourists and investors staying away because of the unrest. Another is the difficulty of having to support an extra 1 or 2 million people a year, in a country already 80 million strong.

A water crisis also looms, with African states further south looking to make greater use of the Nile at Egypt's expense.

"Public opinion is paying more attention to what is going on in the West Bank and Gaza ... rather than paying attention to what is going on in the African countries where you have the source of the Nile," Boutros-Ghali said.

"If you read all the slogans used by the revolution since January 25 there has not been a word about foreign affairs," he added, criticising groups across the political spectrum which have sprung up since the protest movement began early this year.


Before Mubarak resigned, Ethiopia and five other Nile Basin states agreed a new treaty which would reduce Egypt's share of the waters. Egypt gets almost 90 percent of its needs from the river and its demands will grow as the population surges.

"For Egyptians the Nile is an Egyptian river," said Boutros-Ghali, who regretted that Mubarak had also failed to address such issues through deeper international dialogue.

Boutros-Ghali comes from Egypt's minority Coptic Christian community, but he dismissed fears from some quarters that the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and ultra-conservative Salafis might lead to inter-religious violence or rights violations.

"For 2,000 years there have been ups and downs," he said. "They have lived together, co-existed together ... there are no ghettos," he added.

"That is not the case of the Tutsi and Hutu in Rwanda," he said, alluding to the 1994 genocide in the central African state.

Boutros-Ghali said everyone should accept an Islamist victory, regardless of political allegiance.

"You have to if you believe in democracy. You must hope they will act with moderation," he said, adding that he looked forward to a "peaceful coexistence" with more liberal forces.

Muslim Brotherhood leaders have suggested they might put Egypt's landmark 1979 peace deal with Israel to a referendum and other politicians have talked about renegotiating the accord.

Boutros-Ghali served as minister of state for foreign affairs in the late 1970s and helped negotiate the pact. He did not expect any new Egyptian leader to undermine the deal, hinting that the powerful army would prevent such a move.

"The army knows very well where its interests are. They have enough problems, not to add a new one," he said, laughing.

(Writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Ben Harding)