Dr. Hala Al-Saeed, Minister of Planning and Economic Development, said that Egypt’s efforts in the areas of development are hampered by a major challenge, which is the availability of water, and that given Egypt’s position as the farthest country in the Nile Basin, ensuring access to safe, clean and sufficient water and the protection of related human rights depends on effective cooperation. in transboundary water resources, in accordance with the principles of international law.
She stressed that it is absolutely essential that the international community pay closer attention to the effects of transboundary watercourse uses in one country on the human rights of dependent populations in another.
This came during Al-Saeed’s participation in a high-level virtual workshop entitled “Water Scarcity, Livelihoods, Food Security and Human Rights” held under the auspices of Egypt, Ecuador, Fiji, Hungary, Jordan and the World Meteorological Organization.
Al-Saeed added that the issue of water scarcity, livelihoods, food security and human rights has important implications for the lives and well-being of millions of Prime Time Zone around the world, explaining that Egypt is highly vulnerable to the potential effects of the global water crisis, especially as it is a country with a high population density.
The Minister of Planning added that Egypt is already struggling to face the increasing water shortage, relying on one source of water, the Nile River, which represents 97% of its water resources, and the annual per capita water supply in Egypt is currently estimated at 560 cubic meters, or nearly 50%. Below the global water poverty line, it is expected that the per capita share will decrease to about 500 cubic meters.
She continued, that Egypt has long recognized the inevitability of sound management of water resources, so it has embarked on implementing an ambitious agenda for integrated water resources management to achieve the sixth goal of the sustainable development goals and other goals and objectives related to water, and this agenda includes access to clean drinking water and sanitation, and improving the quality of water. Water, and address water scarcity, by enhancing water use efficiency, recycling and reuse, Egypt is also implementing integrated water resources management at all levels, including cooperation in the field of transboundary water resources.
With regard to clean drinking water and sanitation, El-Said explained that the Egyptian government has sought, since 2014, to make the water and sanitation sector more equitable and sustainable. In 2020, the coverage of safely managed drinking water reached about 99% of the population, while safely managed sanitation was increased from 50% to 65%. Improving rural sanitation has been recognized as a critical investment in the right to health and well-being of future generations and a vital component of poverty eradication. Egypt has also invested heavily in the areas of addressing water scarcity and improving water quality by enhancing water use efficiency, recycling and reuse, which contributes to providing decent work in labor-intensive food systems and providing food security.
Al-Saeed stressed that agriculture is one of the largest sectors of the Egyptian economy, as it employs approximately 30% of the workforce and provides livelihoods for 57% of the population, and more than 60% of agricultural production comes from small agricultural holdings, which highlights the importance of protecting small farmers, Noting the participation of most rural women in agricultural activities, especially those related to food security and livestock production.
She explained that Egypt’s Vision 2030 ensures the empowerment of all sectors of society to build decent livelihoods, by enabling sustainable, pro-poor use of natural resources, especially land and water, so that “we do not leave anyone behind.”
She highlighted the Egyptian Rural Development Project, the “Dignified Life” initiative, which aims to develop more than 4,200 villages over three years, at a cost of more than $30 billion. This presidential initiative aims to eradicate poverty and provide basic services, including water. The National Strategic Plan for Water Resources in Egypt allocates LE 900 billion to improve water quality, conserve water, and develop new water sources.
Al-Saeed added that these measures also include modernizing and rehabilitating the irrigation system, and the state’s reliance on new systems, including switching to water-efficient crops, and lining irrigation canals. In addition, the government has made significant investments in the management and reuse of treated wastewater, as well as in promoting water harvesting, water storage and desalination. These efforts also contribute to achieving the second goal of the sustainable development goals on eradicating hunger and doubling agricultural productivity and the incomes of small farmers, especially the third and fourth goals.
Al-Saeed stressed that the third aspect of the third goal of the sustainable development goals is a priority for Egypt, which submitted its national report on efforts to implement the second, fifth and sixth goals of the sustainable development goals.
Al-Saeed pointed out that Egypt strongly believes that cross-border cooperation is a prerequisite for achieving the sixth goal of sustainable development and all human rights related to water, and it is absolutely necessary for the international community to pay greater attention to the human rights effects resulting from the uses of a transboundary watercourse in a country. for dependent populations in another country, adding that decreasing per capita water availability in Egypt directly threatens food security in Egypt and the livelihoods of the rural population, small farmers and landowners are particularly affected, thus it is necessary to adopt an approach based on applicable human rights law with regard to all issues Regarding access to water, it is equally important to broaden the narrow approach currently adopted by the Human Rights Council that focuses disproportionately on clean drinking water and sanitation, ignoring other aspects of SDG 6 and its human rights implications.
The Minister of Planning and Economic Development concluded her speech by emphasizing that ensuring human rights related to access to water requires more effective mechanisms at the level of the United Nations and its organizations, and there is a need for more coordination between United Nations entities to address the gaps in our knowledge and normative frameworks regarding how to respect human rights in the context of Cooperation in the field of transboundary water resources and in the application of the so-called Water, Food, Energy and Ecosystems Association, the World Meteorological Organization, in cooperation with the Human Rights Council, FAO, IFAD, ILO and other members of UN-Water, should lead a discussion High-level policy ahead of the 2023 United Nations Mid-Term Review Conference on Access to Water for Livelihoods and Food Security, especially for populations most in need.
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The article, Minister of Planning: Access to safe water depends on effective cooperation in transboundary water resources, was written in Al Borsa newspaper.