Ivan Surkoš, head of EU delegation to Egypt, said that the European Union (EU) will continue to support sustainable water management in Egypt through policy dialogue and development cooperation, in close partnership with all stakeholders in the sector.
During the kick-off meeting of the first Cairo Water Week in Cairo on Sunday, Surkoš added that promoting and protecting access to the fundamental resource means also promoting and protecting water rights and security, not only for the present, but also for future generations.
“The European Union reaffirms its commitment to work with our partner countries, such as Egypt, to assist them in fulfilling their obligations regarding access to safe drinking water, sanitation, and food security,” Surkoš noted, adding, “water must be available, accessible, safe, acceptable, and affordable for all without discrimination, and the right to safe drinking water and sanitation is a human right, essential for the full enjoyment of life. Therefore, we are delighted to reaffirm our support for the Cairo Water Week and its activities, and shall work, hand in hand, with Egypt’s government in the implementation of its activities and the realisation of its conclusions.”
The Cairo Water Week, the first EU-Egypt cooperation in the water sector, will begin on 17 October.
Egypt’s minister of irrigation and water resources, Mohamed Abdel Aaty, said that by the year 2050, most countries will resort to the reuse of water as an inevitable result of water shortages.
Abdel Aaty said that developing countries, especially in Africa, suffer from poverty, a decrease in development rates, water basin and water quality deterioration, lack of drinking water supply, and electricity and energy shortages, stressing the importance of knowledge and technology to produce modern innovations.
Abdel Aaty revealed that the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) will organise a FAO-Egypt partnership day, in addition to technical sessions on drought insurance.
He pointed out that another important event that will take place is the first EU integrated investment planning in the water sector in Egypt, where the government of Egypt, in cooperation with the EU, is actively pursuing ambitious plans for implementing strategic programmes in the water sector.
“The Cairo Water Week will host the first young water professional forum, which will include the declaration of the first African Youth Forum,” the minister noted, elaborating, “the week will include important field visits to introduce participants in Egypt’s national projects and technical field trips to strategic projects and plants will be organised, in addition to some social activities.”
The minister explained that the Cairo Water Week aims at promoting water awareness and fostering new thinking to face the most pressing water-related challenges, keep abreast of global moves to address water challenges, and identify modern tools and techniques for managing water resources.
He stressed that the challenges in the water sector in Egypt are similar to those faced by most arid and semi-arid countries at regional and international levels. Most of them suffer from water scarcity or are affected by climate change, and their geographical situation as river estuaries come from outside their borders, and other challenges that increase the problem of water scarcity and security.
For his part, regional programme leader at delivery manager of the Regional Initiative on Water Scarcity at FAO, Pasquale Steduto, said that the FAO seeks urgent solutions for the development of water resources and irrigation.
Steduto noted, “we need to exchange experiences, knowledge, benefits, and risks. besides the need to cooperate to meet the challenges facing the water sector.”
He pointed out that Egypt faces a population increase that requires increasing water resources, adding that 90% of the country’s water is consumed by the irrigation sector.