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Egypt: Water Knowledge Note - Pioneering Participatory Integrated Water Resources Management in the Nile Delta

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The World Bank’s Global Environmental Facility (GEF) Trust Fund financed a project centered on piloting participatory Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in the Nile Delta. The Enhanced Water Resources Management Project resulted in improved surface and groundwater management. From the project start in 2011 to the project closure in 2016, 4,436 people were trained on pilot schemes. In addition, due to the reduction of water used by applying the system of rice intensification, water savings reached 8,500 cubic meters/feddan/year (a feddan is defined as an Egyptian unit of area equivalent to 1.038 acres or 0.42 ha).

Challenge

Water scarcity has long been a central problem in Egypt. The combination of increasing socioeconomic demands, physical water scarcity, and competing transboundary needs spells further trouble for the country’s water supply and sanitation sector. Meeting the needs of multiple water users further strains relatively fixed water resources in Egypt. The ongoing impacts of a changing climate also include reduced precipitation, increased temperatures, and even changes in the direction of the Nile flow.

The country relies on the Nile River, which provides 98% of the annual renewable water resources.The river runs through eleven countries, and the Nile’s journey ultimately ends when it spreads out and drains into the Mediterranean Sea. This means that it is not only critical to protect and clean the Nile waters for the sake of Egyptian water security, but also to protect the ecosystem health of the Mediterranean Sea.

In addition, agriculture uses about 85% of the available freshwater resources in Egypt and irrigation water quality is a critical concern. Most agricultural land is heavily irrigated and polluted by industrial effluent and untreated sewage, which are typically dumped into open drains.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of The World Bank Group.


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