Any work done on the Upper Nile should be organized via coordination between upstream and downstream countries, Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Abdel Aaty said, pointing out that Egypt is wary of “uncoordinated” actions that negatively impact the Nile water flow to Egypt, including the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Speaking at the opening session of the regional workshop supporting the implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions in the agriculture and water sectors, organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Abdel Aaty added that Egypt depends on the Nile to cover 95 percent of its water needs. Desert land constitutes 95 percent of the total area of Egypt, he said, explaining that the decline of Nile water levels by only 2 percent impacts one million Egyptian citizens.
He pointed out that this small reduction leads to the desertification of an area of up to 200,000 feddans, which is a source of living for about 200,000 families who make their living on agriculture.
He stressed that water shortage threatens the social order as any decline in the level of the Nile River will directly impact agricultural workers and raise rates of illegal migration.
Egypt and Ethiopia have not reached an agreement on the rules of the Renaissance Dam filling, he said, also stating that Egypt still hopes to reach an agreement despite that negotiations are taking a long time.
In the case that an agreement is not reached, Egypt will be negatively affected by the dam, said the minister.
Abdel Aaty warned of the impact of climate change on the world, especially on Egypt, which will be one of the most heavily impacted countries in the region because of rising sea levels in the Mediterranean and the mingle of groundwater with salt.
Egypt needs non-traditional solutions to water problems to mitigate the impact of climate change. These solutions should include the implementation of projects to develop irrigation methods in the Delta and the Nile Valley within 10 years, Abdel Aaty said.
He pointed out that the ministry has resorted to a number of solutions to adapt to climate change, such as the expansion of the use of solar energy in the operation of groundwater wells, monitoring the needs of irrigation for various crops using satellite images and remote sensing techniques, and recycling sanitary wastewater.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm