Cairo tightens restrictions on water use for irrigation

The Egyptian government is unveiling a new strategy to deal with water stress; a law imposing charges on water for irrigation is also being considered, as the authorities plan to reduce water-intensive crops to preserve the Nile.

Egypt depends on the Nile for 85% of its water needs. Rice cultivation alone consumes more than 10 billion m3 of water each year, “more than one-sixth of the resource provided by the blue river in the North African country”, said Khaled Ghanem, professor of organic agriculture at Al-Azhar University in Egypt, in an article published by the organisation SciDev.Net in 2017. Other water-intensive crops in Egypt include sugar cane and bananas.

On average, the Nile provides Egypt with 55.5 billion m3 of water per year. However, the country is unable to meet the demand of its more than 100 million inhabitants. Egypt needs an additional 30 billion m3 of water.

The government plans to promote water-efficient crops (fruits, vegetables, etc.) over water-intensive crops such as rice, which was grown on more than 445,154 hectares in 2019 in Egypt. In addition to the rationalisation of the Nile water, whose flow is clearly decreasing, the new strategy of the Egyptian government will also allow small farmers to cope with water stress. This phenomenon, which is gradually taking hold, is caused by climate change.


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