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Sunday, 21 February 2021

AfDB could be the newest lender to support our water-saving plan

The African Development Bank is reportedly lining up to help us farm more efficiently, with Al Mal quoting unnamed sources it says have knowledge of the matter that AfDB could back a product that could help rehabilitate an inefficient agricultural wastewater system. The project will modernize an outdated network covering 600k feddans of agricultural land, 450k of which are in lower Egypt and 150k of which are in Upper Egypt, and will expand and deepen drainage canals serving 100k feddans nationwide. The project aims to retrieve higher quality wastewater to be reused for irrigation as part of a USD 50 bn multi-year water-saving plan through 2037.

The Irrigation Ministry is undecided on how much it plans to secure from the multilateral lender, with the remainder of the financing set to come from state coffers.

Authorities have been stepping up efforts to bolster Egypt's water infrastructure: The long term plan involves encouraging the use of modern irrigation methods, the cultivation of fewer water-intensive crops, and the establishment of desalination plants. Expanding irrigation networks to reduce agricultural water use is a policy priority in 2021, with the government planning to provide loans and technical support to farmers covering 300k feddans, Irrigation Ministry spokesperson Mohamed Ghanem previously told Enterprise.

The plan has gained a new sense of urgency over the past few years, particularly after Egypt’s share of Nile water fell by 5 bn cbm in 2019 due to decreasing rainfall in the Ethiopian highlands. More pressing shortages are set to occur in the near future with the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam potentially curbing Egypt’s water supply, and too little or too much rainfall brought about by the effects of climate change causing more waste if the grid is not upgraded.

But it hasn’t been an easy undertaking: Improving water grid infrastructure in Cairo alone over the last five years ate up EGP 5.5 bn, Cairo Wastewater Company Chairman Adel Hassan told Enterprise last year. An in-the-works plan to rehabilitate and depollute Egypt’s longest agriculture waste drain — the 69 km Kitchener drain running through the Nile Delta — is expected to cost EUR 481 mn. Constructing a wastewater treatment facility is also another costly endeavor, with the planned Bahr El Baqar water treatment system expected to set the state back some EGP 25 bn.

WANT A PRIMER ON OUR AILING WATER INFRASTRUCTURE? Hardhat took a deep dive late last year on what were the causes of leakages in our drinking water and irrigation water infrastructure, and what we’re doing about it. Read: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

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