SHARQIA, 18 October 2011 (IRIN) - Leaking water pipes, evaporation and a rapidly growing population may be significant concerns for those trying to manage and plan water supplies in Egypt, but compounding such problems - and forcing Egyptians to rethink how they use water - is the threat posed by downstream countries which also want to take more water from the Nile, say observers.
“Egyptians have to adapt to less water every day,” said Rida Al Damak, a water expert from Cairo University.
Egypt has a population of about 85 million, and receives an annual Nile water share of 55.5 billion cubic metres, according to experts. Around 85 percent of that water is used in agriculture, but a lot simply leaks away.
According to a 2007 research paper by Fathi Farag, an independent water expert (link in Arabic), Egypt loses two billion cubic metres of water to evaporation, and three billion cubic metres to grass growing on the banks of the Nile and on river islands.
Around 40 percent of the remaining water - used domestically and in industry (2.3 billion cubic metres) - is lost to leaking pipes and drains, while 2.5 billion cubic metres are used to generate electricity, the paper says.
“If you calculate all this amount of lost water, you will discover that Egyptians are left with a fraction of what their country receives every year from the Nile,” Farag told IRIN. “This can also show why we should start to worry.”
For farmers like Hamdy Abuleinin, who was able to irrigate his 2.1 hectares of rice only after an argument over water with neighbours in Sharqia near Cairo, this year has proved difficult. “Finding water for irrigation is becoming a daily worry for farmers here,” he told IRIN.
A 1959 water-sharing agreement between Egypt and Sudan gives Egypt 55.5 billion cubic metres of Nile water, but according to Maghawri Shehata, an adviser to the irrigation and water resources minister, population pressure means the country is already facing a shortfall of 10-15 billion cubic metres annually, and “plans by upstream countries to redistribute the water will be very harmful to Egypt”.
According to the Nile Basin Initiative countries that share the Nile River basin have demanded the revision of colonial-era agreements that allot the bulk of the river’s water to Egypt and Sudan and allow Cairo to veto upstream projects.
For the complete article, please see IRIN.
For the first time in the survey’s 10-year outlook, the top five global risks in terms of likelihood are all environmental. They are: extreme weather events, failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation, major natural disasters, major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse, and human-made environmental damage and disasters.
Millions of people across Sub-Saharan Africa could face grave hunger in the first half of 2020 because of armed conflict, political instability and climate change-linked disasters, a report says.
The report published by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) this month says that the countries affected will require life-saving food assistance and investment to prevent humanitarian catastrophes.
Australia is currently experiencing one of its worst bushfire seasons, with swathes of the southern and eastern coastal regions having been ablaze for weeks. As the fires have spread, there has been extensive media coverage both nationally and internationally documenting – and debating – their impacts. This Carbon Brief overview summarises how the fires – and the political response to them – have been covered by the media.
The latest climate talks unravelled when parties failed to reach consensus on the global carbon market mandated by the Paris Agreement. The carbon market controversy emerged amidst new tensions between a growing grassroots climate movement and the climate sceptic agenda of populist leaders. The ball is now in the court of the climate laggards, but they can only halt global climate action for so long.