CWW: EU grants for Egypt’s water sector reach €500 M

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Mon, 19 Oct 2020 - 08:18 GMT

The second European Union (EU), Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Egypt Water Governance and Business Forum on Monday in Cairo, on the sidelines of the third edition of the Cairo Water Week (CWW) - press photo

The second European Union (EU), Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Egypt Water Governance and Business Forum on Monday in Cairo, on the sidelines of the third edition of the Cairo Water Week (CWW) - press photo

CAIRO – 19 October 2020: Direct grants provided to Egypt from the European Union (EU) and its partners for water sector have reached €500 million, leveraging €3 million in concessional loans, in a bid to find solutions and achieve sustainability in water sector amid the scarcity the region of the Mediterranean Sea faces.

Ways of finding more solutions to this vital sector were tackled during the second European Union (EU), Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), Egypt Water Governance and Business Forum on Monday in Cairo, on the sidelines of the third edition of the Cairo Water Week (CWW) that was launched by the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation on Sunday.

Head of the EU Delegation to Egypt Christian Berger said in his speech that the partnership with Egypt in the water sector aims at transporting the EU expertise at the sustainable development techniques to Egypt, saying “About 60 percent of the population is living in high water stress; this is again a very important factor when we are dealing with water in the Mediterranean. So, water scarcity and water resource access are trans boundary issues around the Mediterranean and around Europe.”

“Therefore, we have done for many years several investments in human capital. We invest in infrastructure and also to raise awareness of the water issues and how water scarcity is among the fundamental issues. Such development aims to enhance the national development and achieve the sustainable development goals,” he added.

In his speech, Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel-Atti discussed the water situation in Egypt, calling for the necessity of adopting climate resilience water management and good water governance.

“Water in Egypt is becoming scarcer due to limited water resources […] and the increase in population. Therefore, two major national programs have been recently launched: The first is the transformation to Modern Irrigation System, while the second is the rehabilitation of the canal system and water strategy,” he said, noting that water deficiency in Egypt reached 87 percent.

“The forum aims at the establishment of a financing strategy in the Mediterranean region to find sustainable solutions and we aim to cover the big financial gap as Egypt needs LE 900 billion to fill this gap of funding in water sector. This is a big amount of money that could not be covered by the national budget or by the development partners, so the forum aims at finding solutions on the local and regional levels,” said Ayman Ayad, who is responsible for the water sector at the EU mission to Egypt.

Ayad added in remarks to media on the sidelines of the forum that the irrigation sector is in need for development to meet the increasing population’s demands amid the current water deficit or the gap between the resources and the consumption. "The EU is contacting the government to participate in helping reduce the consumed water quantity," he continued.

Answering Egypt Today's question on whether the EU aid was provided because of the fear that the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) might negatively affect Egypt, Ayad said that the EU’s support to Egypt began earlier than the construction of the dam. “We have been supporting the water sector since 2007 and the water sector is a priority. Our objective is to work in suboptimal projects with viable infrastructure.”

"The European Union has 20 projects across 14 Egyptian governorates in many fields, including the water sector, and solid waste. In addition, three more projects would be implemented in Upper Egypt," Ayad said.

The one-day forum, which was held at Conrad Cairo hotel, aimed at serving as an “technical follow up” to enhance cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation. Under the auspices of President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi, the third edition of the Cairo Water Week (CWW) kicked off on Sunday.

The 2020 edition of the CWW, which comes under the slogan “Security for the production of peace and development in arid regions,” is being held online because of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, according to a statement from the ministry.

The five-day CWW tackles five main topics including water security for sustainable development, cooperation for achieving water security, Water-Food-Energy NEXUS, climate change, and innovative solutions for water security, according to the official website of the conference.

The CWW is being held annually in cooperation with the European Union (EU), the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), and other international and Arab bodies to tackle water issues, amid climate change that impacts the world’s freshwater.

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