Head of the European Union Delegation to Egypt, Ambassador Christian Berger, has said that the EU co-funded existing programmes that cover 16 governorates in Egypt, providing jobs, mainly in rural areas. This shall help improve the quality of life for nearly 20 million people in Egypt.

Berger’s remarks came on the sidelines of the celebration of the World Water Day 2023.

The European Union and the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation marked World Water Day 2023 under the theme “Accelerating Change” in Al Qanater Al Khairiya district on Sunday.

During his remarks, the Ambassador said that Egypt is blessed with the River Nile, stressing the importance of water as water defines life, it’s essential for all organisms on this planet.

Berger mentioned that there are many threats including climate change and plastic pollution.

He added that water has become a geopolitical issue that can trigger migration, threaten food security, and even cause wars.

The Ambassador said that the world needs to embrace a new approach towards sustainability, and need to move fast in order to overcome these challenges.

“This is particularly important here in Egypt as during the next decade, the average portion of nile water for every person will decrease by 22% and that is simply due to the population growth,” the ambassador said. Berger continued that this might lead to a significant danger to water quality and the quality of life itself.

“In response to these challenges, and as a sign of our high commitment to Egypt’s Sustainable Development Strategy, during the last 15 years, the European Union has provided over €550m in grants to help Egypt overcome its water difficulties, generating €3bn in investments for the sector,” said Berger.

He added that there is still a lot to be done to match the existing and future needs.

“That is why today’s celebration is also the occasion to discuss the way forward, as Egypt and the EU are close neighbours and strategic partners with a long history of friendship,” he concluded

He concluded by ensuring that the European Union and its member states are committed to continuing working with the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and irrigation and other partners in Egypt and we can achieve shared goals together and secure water as a valuable sustainable resource of Egypt, without water there cannot be life.

The celebration featured a high level panel discussion with the participation of Ambassador Berger and Minister of Irrigation Hani Sewilam. The panel discussed EU-Egypt cooperation in the water sector and efforts underway to increase water sustainability in Egypt.

The adoption of contemporary irrigation technologies and water recycling were among the actions taken by the Egyptian government to preserve water and adapt to climate change which were highlighted by Ambassador Berger. He reaffirmed the EU’s ongoing assistance to Egypt’s water sector and emphasised that collaboration between the EU and Egypt in this area is a top priority.

Sewilam stressed the significance of raising public awareness about the need to conserve water. “Water is a key for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and for the health and prosperity of people and the planet. Events like World Water Day and its activities can contribute to behavioural change in the society, making a difference in the way people use, consume and manage water,” Sewilam said.

As part of the commemoration of World Water Day, a youth workshop on climate change and sustainability as well as a number of theatrical productions to encourage water conservation are also planned. Heads of Mission from EU Member States, local officials, community members, youngsters who took part in the online water contests supported by the EU, and primary school students from a number of experimental schools in the Al Qanater Al Khairiya district are also scheduled to attend.

Sweilem confirmed that the Egyptian state, represented by the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation and the relevant ministries, has implemented many major national projects in the areas of improving water quality, rationalizing its uses, and developing water resources, through the establishment of giant plants for the treatment and reuse of agricultural wastewater.

He said that Egypt is one of the driest countries in the world and relies on the River Nile water for 97% of its water resources.

He added that Egypt is taking many steps in the face of many and complex challenges, as the per capita share of water reaches nearly 500 cubic meters annually, at a time when the United Nations defined water poverty as 1,000 cubic meters of water per year.

He pointed out that climate change represents the biggest challenge in the field of water, as we have witnessed floods in many countries, fires and high temperatures, which require cooperation to solve a more comprehensive concept and redouble efforts towards adopting effective policies and rational management of water resources with the constant endeavour to develop them.

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