Arab Countries Representative at UNESCO - IHP Mahmoud Abou Zeid
CAIRO - 1 September 2018: Members of the UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP) elected Egyptian candidate Mahmoud Abou Zeid, who was the former minister of irrigation and water resources, to represent Arab countries in its meeting in Paris last February.
The IHP was launched in 1975 as an internationally coordinated hydrological research programme and evolved to include water resources management, education and capacity building.
Abou Zeid was in charge of the ministry for 12 years between 1997 and 2009. He holds a Ph.D. in groundwater from the University of California. Abou Zeid headed the World Water Council think tank since its founding in 1996 until 2003 and presided over the African Ministers’ Council on Water between 2005 and 2009.
The former minister was a fellow of the World Bank’s Economic Development Institute, and a member of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation.
Abou Zaid was honoured this year during Singapore’s International Water Week. He was also - for the tenth year in a row - among the judges panel of the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize that selected as winner Professor Rita Corwell for her contributions in achieving universal access to safe water.
The long-time expert took part as a speaker in three discussion sessions at the Noble Prize Dialogue held in Tokyo last March. Those were attended by Noble Laureates, opinion leaders and policymakers from different countries. The main topics were food security in light of natural disasters and climate change, water issues, sustainable development, and global solutions on irrigation and wastewater.
Current Egyptian Irrigation and Water Resources Minister Mohamed Abdel Aty stated in June that the water status in Egypt is critical. He explained that, according to the expected population growth along with indicators of deteriorating quality of surface and underground water, the individual’s water share would drop to less than 500 cubic meters per annum.
Abdel Aty declared that the annual water deficit is 21 billion cubic meters so as the cap is bridged through imports in the form of food, water recycling, and underground water. The minister added that the country is at risk because of climate change which would result in sea level rise incurring the relocation of five millions in Delta and loss of investments worth billions of dollars, and infiltration of sea water into underground water reserves.
The ministry estimates that by 2050 the productivity of wheat and corn crops would fall by 15 and 19 percent respectively, and that 15 percent of agricultural water would be subject to salinization.
Egypt has been trying to benefit from rainwater, which is why the construction of a dam in the basin valleys of Shalatin to harness rainwater was announced last year after necessary studies were finished.
Additional contribution by Asmaa Nasar
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