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Urgent priorities.

Summary: MINISTER of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Bah Eddin keeps on warning that Egypt is now suffering from water poverty, with each citizen's quota of this precious liquid falling to 730 cubic litres per annum, far below the standard global quota of 1,000 cubic litres.

He also warns that the Egyptian quota might shrink further with the creation of the giant Nahda Dam in Ethiopia.

However, the respected Minister and his Government have not done anything about tackling the problem, such as coming up with projects for boosting Egypt's quota of water, rationalising consumption or introducing advanced irrigation systems to help lessen the water wasted in some governorates, in order to help others suffering from terrible shortages.

Despite this scary warning, we find the Government of Hisham Qandil talking about reclaiming 1 million feddans of land to help increase food production.

This project is vital for lessening Egypt's dependence on imported food. But we need a lot of water for such these projects that the Ministry of Agriculture is planning to set up, in order to expand agricultural investments for companies and individuals.

If there is not enough water, this land will become desert again, after huge sums have been spent on its reclamation.

Another example of ambiguity and lack of co-ordination between ministries in the current Government can be seen with the ministries of industry and energy.

The Minister of Industry recently announced the creation of some industrial projects. The Minister of Energy then asked how these projects will get the energy they need, while the country is suffering from an energy crisis that is bound to worsen as the summer gets ever nearer.

At this critical stage in Egypt's history, no-one can call for suspending agricultural and industrial investments that are badly needed for reviving the economy and creating jobs for the unemployed people, whose numbers keep on rising.

However, we should first create the infrastructure for these projects, to ensure their success and lure more foreign and Arab investments here.

We should start by creating giant projects for generating energy and desalinating seawater, as well as introducing new irrigation systems to rationalise water consumption.

In the meantime, the armed forces, in co-operation with global countries, should swiftly clear the North Coast of the landmines between Al-Alamein and the Libyan border, so as to use this region for cultivation using rainwater, while creating a giant project in the Qattara Depression for generating energy.

Only then can we start talking about reclaiming land and launching more industrial projects.

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Publication:The Egyptian Gazette (Cairo, Egypt)
Geographic Code:7EGYP
Date:Mar 30, 2013
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