Egypt’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel-Aty on Saturday met with conservative representatives, members of the House of Representatives and Senate and the Coordination of Youth Parties and Politicians to discuss issues related to Egypt’s water situation including the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and the state’s efforts to rationalize water usage.
Abdel-Aty went over the current situation regarding GERD negotiations, emphasizing Egypt’s firm desire to finalize them and while stressing its water rights. Any action taken by Ethiopia without reaching a just and binding legal agreement and without coordination with the two downstream countries is a unilateral act that is not accepted, he said.
Egypt has cooperated with other African countries to establish dams to harvest rainwater, he said, which will help provide drinkable water to remote areas along projects to utilize solar energy within underground wells and purify waterways.
Abdel-Aty said that Egypt is one of the most water-scarce countries in the world, with water resources estimated at 60 billion cubic meters annually, mostly from the Nile, in addition to limited amounts of rainwater and deep groundwater in the deserts.
The total water needs in Egypt reach 114 billion cubic meters annually, he said, with this gap compensated by reusing agricultural wastewater and surface groundwater alongside importing food products.
Egypt is preparing a strategy for water resources until 2050 at a cost of LE900 billion through a national plan for water resources that include rationalizing water use, improving its quality, providing additional water sources, and creating a climate for optimal water management.
The construction of the GERD, which began in 2011, is considered to be one of Egypt’s most serious water issues.
Egypt, which relies considerably on freshwater from the Nile, has voiced fears that the GERD would negatively impact the country’s water supply, and has insisted that measures be put in place to protect downstream countries in case of drought during the dam’s filling process.
Ethiopia, on the other hand, has stressed the importance of the project to bolster its economy, where more than half of the population currently lives without access to electricity.