Nile water crisis and its impact on The Egyptian National Security

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The availability of surface freshwater resources in Egypt, as in other Middle East developing countries, is a major challenge – not least of all because the average population density doubled during the last 30 years. The major challenge faced by the Egyptian government is the limited annual freshwater quota from the Nile of 55.5 km3 year. In order to meet the increased food needs, two basic strategies are possible: importing food or growing more food. Egypt imports about 236 m3 water per capita and year in the form of food. Different agriculture projects were established with the aim to enlarge the cultivated area and to guarantee sufficient production of the main crops issues considered as top priorities within the government economic agenda. Based on the concept of re-use and efficiency increase, it is expected that the use of scientific knowledge, international experience and cooperation as well as advanced management tools should help in the sustainable planning of the future economy. Thus on the national level, re-use and efficient water utilization have the highest priority. According to Egyptian estimates, an additional 20.9 km3year-1 could be made available through recycling water, by changing irrigation techniques and adopting water efficient crops and cropping patterns. This is equal to 30% of the water that is used at present. Based on the measures taken by the government, the water balance of Egypt shows that the available water supply is sufficient for the future, at least until the year 2020.

 

One of the greatest challenges facing humanity is how to use scarce resources in an equitable and sustainable way. Water scarcity is now the single greatest threat to human health, the environment and the global food supply. Besides the qualitative aspect of water, (e.g. polluted water affecting human health), the available quantity of water has a direct impact on a region's potential to produce food. Worldwide agriculture is the main consumer of water. In Egypt more than 85% of the water withdrawal from the Nile is used for irrigated agriculture. Water availability therefore has a direct influence on national food security. According to the FAO, all the countries of the Nile Basin, except Egypt, suffer from malnutrition. All countries of the Nile Basin, except Uganda (during some years), are net importers of cereals. Resources such as land and water, as well as the general political and economic situation play crucial roles. For countries that share the same river, such as the Nile riparian countries, competitive usage can accentuate the threat of running dry.

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PROF. AMB. MARIA NZOMO
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