Egypt fears decline in Nile water levels this year, say experts

A picture taken on September 9, 2017 shows a view of the Nile river in the southern Egyptian city of Luxor. (AFP)
Updated 29 July 2019

Egypt fears decline in Nile water levels this year, say experts

  • A report issued by the ministry said that the High Dam was prepared to receive the rise in water levels that marks the start of the 2019-2020 water year, which begins in August

CAIRO: The Egyptian Irrigation Ministry announced the decline in the Nile water by about 5 billion cubic meters from last year, according to an official statement.
The government declared a state of maximum emergency in all governorates during the coming period to ensure the country’s water needs, especially drinking water, to meet the demand for household uses and periodic monitoring of agricultural land irrigation.
According to the Ministry of Irrigation, the flood season runs from Aug. 1 until mid-November, and all the agencies of the ministry took major measures, from the High Dam Unit to the irrigation sector.
Abdullatif Khalid, head of the irrigation sector in the ministry, confirmed that the current level of water in the Nile River is 55.5 billion cubic meters. He said that this quantity is low because drinking water is consuming 11 billion cubic meters, as against 7 billion last year. Industrial usage consumes 8 billion cubic meters and the rest is distributed to agriculture.
“Egypt will certainly be affected by this decline, so we call for rationalization and austerity in water consumption,” he said, pointing out that population growth and climate change are factors that increase the demand for more water.
A report issued by the ministry said that the High Dam was prepared to receive the rise in water levels that marks the start of the 2019-2020 water year, which begins in August.

The necessary maintenance works were carried out for its installations, emergency floods and gates.
The water levels start to rise as flood waters arrive from Ethiopia via the blue Nile, passing through Khartoum before arriving at Lake Nasser in Aswan Governorate. The water comes partly from rains on the Ethiopian hills, and partly from the opening of dams by the Khartoum authorities (Al-Roussiris, Sennar-Merwi, Upper Atbara, Sitit-Khashm Al-Qurba) in preparation for the start of the new floodwater storage, which begins in August every year. The season ends in October-November.
Dr. Iman Al-Sayyid, head of the irrigation ministry, said that the ministry has monitoring devices for the indicators of the rainy season in the Nile basin, pointing out that the rate of rainfall is expected to be lower than previous years.
She added that the low rainfall rates on the Nile Basin countries — specifically Ethiopia — is behind the decline in water levels of the Nile, confirming that the low rate of rainfall is a natural phenomenon for Egypt, Sudan and the rest of the Nile Basin countries.
She said that the ministry has an early-warning system to monitor the water situation on a continuous basis, and has a strategy to deal with emergencies.


New Tunisia protests over unemployment

Updated 46 min 17 sec ago

New Tunisia protests over unemployment

  • “Either we get a better life or we all die,” demonstrators, including women, could be heard shouting, according to the reports
  • Nearly a decade after the revolution that toppled Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the government has yet to resolve regional inequalities

TUNIS: Hundreds of Tunisians demonstrated in the south of the country on Saturday against unemployment and the death of a young man they say was killed by soldiers earlier this week.
Protesters in the town of Remada demanded that President Kais Saied visit their region to discuss their living conditions, witnesses told AFP and videos published online showed.
“Either we get a better life or we all die,” demonstrators, including women, could be heard shouting, according to the reports.
“We want to see President Kais Saied. We voted for him and he must come here to Remada to hear us out and see how our children are being killed,” a woman seen in one video said.
On Tuesday night, a young man suspected of being a smuggler was killed during a police operation in the town, which is close to the border with conflict-riddled Libya.
The defense ministry has opened an investigation to determine if he died when soldiers opened fire on four vehicles transporting smuggled goods from Libya.
Southern Tunisia is one of the country’s most marginalized regions, with above-average unemployment, failing infrastructure and a stunted private sector.
Nearly a decade after the revolution that toppled Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the government has yet to resolve regional inequalities.
In recent weeks, protests have also rocked the southern town of Tataouine, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Remada, with demonstrators demanding the government honor a 2017 pledge to invest millions to develop the region and provide jobs to thousands.
Protesters in Tataouine have blocked roads and sought to prevent trucks from accessing the remote El-Kamour pumping station in the desert outside the town.
“The situation in the south of Tunisia is unacceptable,” Saied said in a video published Thursday on the presidency’s official Facebook page.
Saied, who had focused on Tunisia’s disenfranchised youth during his 2019 election campaign, said protests were “legitimate” as long as they respected the law.