Egypt: Irrigation Canal Refurbishment Project About One-Third Complete

New Financing Products Available To Farmers

16 Jan 2022 by The Water Diplomat
CAIRO, Egypt

The government of Egypt has recently revealed that the 20 year project to refurbish irrigation canals throughout the country is about one-third complete.

The report, reviewed by Minister Mohamed Abdel Aty, in early January indicates 3,838 km out of 10,682 km been completed.

The project also includes improving water quality, wastewater management and construction of desalination plants.

Egypt is one of the driest countries in the world with 97% of its water needs deriving from the Nile River. The government has stepped up its efforts to create sustainable solutions to reuse water and improve water system management.

Farmers are encouraged to adopt more modern irrigation processes which will benefit their land by means of more efficient water distribution and less water shortages.

In May 2021, approximately 237,000 feddans (1 feddan is roughly 1 acre) were irrigated with modern techniques and it is hoped that through government incentives that all agricultural land will be irrigated this way in the next three years.

The MWRI’s projects are backed by The Central Bank of Egypt, the National Bank of Egypt and the Agricultural Bank of Egypt, who have initiated new finance products for farmers to assist in transition of their irrigation methods to more efficient techniques by offering a ten-year interest free loans. It is hoped that this incentive will see more rational water usage across four million feddans (approximately four million acres).

The MWRI have previously said that one factor in Egypt’s water deficit stems from lower levels of water in the Nile River, caused by Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Egypt, situated downstream from Ethiopia, has been in heated negotiations for over a decade to achieve a legally binding agreement on how to share the Nile’s water supply but have failed to reach an arrangement.  

Paul Sullivan, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center, commented on the issue, saying: “Climate change results for the downstream countries of the Nile will be as they will be. However, with a country that may magnify those changes by holding back water for their own people, Egypt and Sudan could have a much more difficult water future than they previously planned for.”

He added: “If climate changes bring about even less rain in the water tower of Ethiopia, the tensions building toward conflict within Ethiopia and between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan will get worse.”

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