Thursday, February 28, 2013

Morsi meets Sudanese ministers on Nile water issue - Daily News Egypt

Morsi meets Sudanese ministers on Nile water issue

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Ministers brief Morsi on developments in Nile water sharing and cooperation between Sudan and Egypt
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President Mohamed Morsi met with the Sudanese minister of water resources and electricity on Tuesday to discuss cooperation between Egypt and Sudan on the issue of water resources and irrigation (Photo Courtesy of President Morsi's official Facebook page)
President Mohamed Morsi met with the Sudanese minister of water resources and electricity on Tuesday to discuss cooperation between Egypt and Sudan on the issue of water resources and irrigation
(Photo Courtesy of President Morsi’s official Facebook page)
President Mohamed Morsi met with the Sudanese minister of water resources and electricity on Tuesday to discuss cooperation between Egypt and Sudan on the issue of water resources and irrigation. The meeting focused on the Nile water sharing issue.
Sudanese minister Osama Abdullah Mohamed Hassan also delivered a letter from Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir.
According to a statement from the Egyptian presidency the Minister of Water resources and Irrigation Mohamed Baha’a El-Din was also present at the meeting. The statement reported that “the two ministers briefed the president on developments of close bilateral cooperation… in the field of water resources and irrigation”.
The statement said that during the meeting, Morsi “stressed the importance Egypt attaches to cooperation with Sudan in all fields”, placing particular emphasis on the Nile water issue.
They discussed the coordination of Egypt and Sudan to promote the “development of cooperation between Nile Basin countries”.
In 1929, Britain secured Egypt the largest share of Nile water, a vital resource for the Nile Basin countries. In 1959 Egypt and Sudan signed an agreement guaranteeing Egypt 55.5 out the estimated 84 billion cubic metres.
In January El-Din rejected a new deal for sharing Nile water saying that it was not satisfactory for countries downstream, which includes Egypt.
The Nile Basin countries have recently sought to change the allocation of water. In February Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Kamel Amr met with a Burundian representative to discuss the issue. The Burundian mediator said his country is “eager to secure Egypt’s water interests”.
In September 2012 Egypt denied that it had colluded with Sudan and was planning to build an airbase in order to attack an Ethiopian dam, which would limit water to Egypt and Sudan.
Ethiopia, which supplies most of the Nile with its water, is not guaranteed any water from the colonial agreements. In an effort to deal with the unequal water distribution, the Nile Water Basin agreement was signed in 1999 by nine of the countries that share the Nile, including Egypt and Sudan. To further combat the monopoly on the water guaranteed by colonial treaties, a new agreement was drawn out in 2010, which Egypt and Sudan have not recognised.
Additional reporting by Luiz Sanchez

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Climate change and water mismanagement parch Egypt | Egypt Independent

Tue, 26/02/2013 - 14:25
Egyptian farmer Mohamed Hamid, 62, showing the salt in the soil of his now infertile land in the Nile Delta region of Rosetta, 250 kilometres northwest of the capital Cairo.
Climate change, a fast growing population, ill-designed infrastructure, high levels of pollution and lack of law enforcement have made Egypt a country thirsty for water — both in terms of quantity and quality.
The River Nile, which is considered poor by many experts and hydrologists, lies at lower altitude than the rest of the country. Massive electric pumps extract the water from the river’s bed and canals and direct it to industry, agriculture and for individual water use.
A significant portion of the water contained in Lake Nasser’s 5,000 square kilometer basin is lost to evaporation, while old networks of leaking pipes also deprive the country of satisfactory access to its most important resource: water.
In order to debate water scarcity in Egypt, its causes, and how climate change makes the issue more pressing than ever, as well as looking to solutions, a panel of experts were invited to participate in the 13th Cairo Climate Talk last week entitled “Growing Thirst: Sustainable Water Solutions for Egypt.”
Tarek Kotb, the First Assistant Minister in the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, and a member of the panel discussion, talked about the dwindling water share per capita with a sense of urgency. “Every year, the Egyptian population grows by 1.8 million, while the annual quota of Nile water allocated to Egypt, 55 billion cubic meters, has remained unchanged since the 1959 Nile Water Agreement,” he says.
While Egyptians in the 1960s could enjoy a water share per capita of 2800 cubic meters for all purposes, the current share has dropped to 660 cubic meters today—below the international standard defining water poverty of 1000 cubic meters.
Kotb estimates that Egypt is gradually going to leave the stage of water scarcity and enter a phase of drastic water stress in the next 40 years, if no sustainable water management is put in place.
“By 2050, there will be about 160 million Egyptians and only 370 cubic meters of water per capita,” he says. While Egypt has other options for its water needs, such as tapping into groundwater basins and desalinating sea-water, the bulk of water is still extracted from the Nile, leading to longstanding tensions with the other Nile basin countries.
The treaty signed under colonial rule in 1959 granted Egypt and Sudan most of the Nile water share, while upstream countries were given access to a very small allocation of water. Lama al-Hatow, a hydrologist and one of the founders of the Water Institute for the Nile (WIN) condemns Egypt’s historical and ongoing hydro hegemony, by which the country claims its entitlement to benefit from most of the Nile water.
“A lot of science has been published on how not to lose water if the Ethiopian Millennium Dam is built, but it is not given much attention by the politicians,” Hatow says. “The upstream countries have the right to develop,” she says, “and there are ways to make it happen without Egypt losing water.”
She adds that preventing water evaporation in Lake Nasser could even increase Egypt’s water share.
Kotb responding to her remarks, saying that Egypt is investing millions of dollars in Sudan, South Sudan and Ethiopia to overcome losses due to evaporation in marshes and basins. “We don’t deny these countries’ right to development; actually, we help them,” he said.
Claudia Bürkin, the Water Sector Coordinator for the German Development Cooperation and Senior Programme Manager at KfW Development Bank, explains that Egypt’s water resources face two main challenges: water loss and bad quality.
“Egypt loses about 50% of its freshwater through poor maintenance of supplies and distribution problems, and the water is polluted,” she says, stressing that a significant number of diseases are water borne. Polluted water also affects the ecosystems’ balance, the soil quality, and seeps into the aquifers. “Egypt needs to set up strong standards for water quality and control the drainage nutrients, pesticides and waste found in the water.”
Kotb admits that while most of the issues and potential solutions have been identified by the government, much needs to be done in terms of implementation of existing laws and stronger cooperation between ministries.
“Water management is not the mandate of the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation exclusively, which makes the implementation process so much harder,” he says.
A National Water Resource Plan was established a few years ago, Kotb says, to curb the amount of pollution in the Nile emanating from cruise boats, factories, industries and villagers deprived of a waste management system. As part of this, he explains, factories located close to the Nile or the canals have been moved further away from the water streams, and new industries will be prevented from setting up a plant within 20km from the water.  
“Law 48 on pollution has been reviewed and the penalties will be tougher,” he says. Meanwhile, Hatow argues that enforcing stronger penalties is not the solution to prevent farmers from polluting.
“Instead of punishing them, we should give farmers incentives to make better use of water, and provide them with premium crops,” she says.
The conversation then shifted to the effects of climate change, which can already be felt in the Northern part of the Delta and in the Mediterranean coastal cities of Damietta and Rosetta. The gradual rise in sea levels taking place turns fields into barren land unfit for agriculture, and the sea water that infiltrates the Nile is reaching further and further away from the coast.
“In order to keep a good yield and maintain agricultural production,” says Kotb, “we need to use more fresh water to combat rising temperatures.”
Lama’s take on how to combat climate change is quite different from this. “We need to study community based resilience techniques to figure out how local and indigenous knowledge can provide answers and climate resilience.”
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Saudi Criticizes the Death dam of late Meles Zenawi on the Nile

A senior Saudi Arabian official unleashed a barrage of attack against Ethiopia saying that the Horn of Africa nation is posing a threat to the Nile water rights of Egypt and Sudan.

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Saudi deputy defense minister Khalid Bin Sultan (Al-Riyadh)
"The [Grand] Renaissance dam has its capacity of flood waters reaching more than 70 billion cubic meters of water, and is located at an altitude of 700 meters and if it collapsed then Khartoum will drown completely and the impact will even reach the Aswan Dam," the Saudi deputy defense minister Khalid Bin Sultan said at the meetings of the Arab Water Council in Cairo.

"Egypt is the most affected party from the Ethiopian Renaissance dam because they have no alternative water source compared to other Nile Basin countries and the establishment of the dam 12 kilometers from the Sudanese border is for political plotting rather than for economic gain and constitutes a threat to Egyptian and Sudanese national security "the Saudi official said.

The massive $4.8 billion dam is under construction and is scheduled for completion in 2015. It lies close to Sudan’s eastern borders and has a power generating capacity of 6,000MW and when completed it will enable Ethiopia to export more power to its neighbors.

Egypt fears that the Nile dam will reduce the flow of the river’s waters further downstream and Addis Ababa has long complained that Cairo was pressuring donor countries and international lenders to withhold funding.

An international panel of experts is set to announce its findings on the impact of Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam on the Nile’s flow in May 2013.

The Saudi deputy defense minister went further saying that Ethiopia is keen on harming Arab nations.

"There are fingers messing with water resources of Sudan and Egypt which are rooted in the mind and body of Ethiopia. They do not forsake an opportunity to harm Arabs without taking advantage of it" Prince Khalid said.

"The establishment of the dam leads to the transfer of water supply from the front of Lake Nasser to the Ethiopian plateau, which means full Ethiopian control of every drop of water, as well as [causing] an environmental imbalance stirring seismic activity in the region as a result of the massive water weight laden with silt withheld in front of the dam, estimated by experts at more than 63 billion tonnes," he added.

The Saudi official added that Nile basin countries calling for reallocating Nile water shares is a "real threat" to Egypt’s future.

"The information is alarming and it is important that we do not underestimate the danger at the moment and its repercussions in the future," he said.

It is unusual for Saudi officials known for being composed to make such damning criticism of other countries. It is not clear whether today’s remarks indicates hidden tensions with Ethiopia.

Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, along with Ethiopia, signed an agreement to overturn British-colonial-era agreements dating back to 1929.

These gave Egypt and Sudan 90 percent of the Nile’s water flow and the power of veto over dam-building, even though 85 percent of the river’s water flows from the Ethiopian highlands.

Ethiopia and the upstream states contend they need more water because of burgeoning populations, industrialization and agricultural projects.

Water needs are expected to rise as the Nile basin population is projected to reach 654 million by 2030, up from 372 million in 2005, according to UN estimates.



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