July 09, 2008: Water in Egypt: Between a painful reality and a dangerous future
A new report from the Land Center For Human Rights
Cairo 7/9/2008 Press Release
Water in Egypt: Between a painful reality and a dangerous future
The Land Center for Human Rights issued report No. "47" of the land and farmer sires on: “water problems in Egypt”.
In its introduction, the report reviews how to secure man’s needs of water. The report emphasizes that water is inherent to the right to life and that peoples and nations should realize the importance of this factor in their lives and policies, internally and externally. Water is a strategic element that might be used, or has already been used to serve politics. Who owns water sources owns sources of influence, in light of the absence of organizations, legislation, laws and international treaties governing international relations.
In its first axis, titled: “water crisis in Egypt (dimensions and challenges)”, the report reviews the volume of water resources in Egypt, and the laws and legislations governing them, and then reviews the restrictives on the usage of water.
In its second axis, titled: “The other face of water (pollution and inevitable use)”, the report reviews water and agricultural soil pollution, through irrigation by normal or non-normal water, the causes and sources of this pollution and, finally, drinking water and the causes for its pollution.
In its first axis, titled: “The Nile Basin and Egyptian water security”, the report reviews the history and geography of the Nile Basin countries, the amount of water available in them, and the most important conflicts among the ten Nile Basin countries in light of the inevitability of implementing the 1929 Convention, as well as the proposed Egyptian solutions to resolve such crisis.
The report presents three major issues: the first issue concerns the pricing of water, and here we can notice two major trends:
The first trend calls for treating the Nile water as a commodity which can be sold and transferred to any country outside the geographical boundaries of the basin. This approach is adopted by the upstream States, which see in a drop of water a way to achieve richness similar to that of a drop of oil.
The second trend is opposed to the idea of the selling water or transferring it outside the geographical limits of the basin. This trend is lead by the Egyptian government.
The second issue is the mechanism of monitoring independent water projects. The Convention of 1929 established a principle and a mechanism for Egyptian monitoring of water projects in the Nile Basin countries, which is represented in presenting projects to the Egyptian side to examine and to make sure that no harm is done to Egypt's share of water in the future. Such mechanism was adopted by international monetary bodies such as the World Bank, but denials of this Egyptian right continue to be made. Many Nile Basin countries insist on the importance of not accepting the Egyptian veto, and try to consolidate a new reality, through the implementation of water projects independently.
The third issue concerns the re-allocation of water. It was raised again strongly, in the Nairobi meeting in 2004, after the parliaments of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda launched their private call, in December 2003, for the necessity of reconsidering the distribution of the Nile water quotas and the non-recognition of the historical conventions governing the relationship between the upstream and downstream states.
The report concludes with several recommendations asserting the necessity of continuing to preserve our water resources. Evidence affirms that the future of water in Egypt is extremely dangerous, and that the conflict over water is the feature that will characterize the next decade and that the Egyptian government and civil society organizations need to pay enough attention to provide adequate and clean drinking water to citizens in Egypt in order to guarantee their rights to a decent and safe living.
Please visit their website for a copy of the report: www.lchr-eg.org