Egypt's waterways conservation campaigns under growing intrinsic demand and Nile upstream damming

Sara S. Fouad, Essam Heggy, Mohamed Ramah, Abotalib Z. Abotalib, Elizabeth M. Palmer, Seifeddine Jomaa, Udo Weilacher

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Nile River is the primary water source for populous and hyper-arid Egypt. However, it suffers from the backfilling of its extensive network of waterways and increasing encroachments along its banks. The Nile's waterways are among the world's oldest and largest water irrigation systems. As an integral component of the Nile water system, they are vital in sustaining agriculture, inhabitants’ quality of life in urban and rural settings, and various ecosystem services. Therefore, raising public awareness and a sense of connectivity with the conservation of these waterways is one of the primary mitigation strategies for addressing the dire water deficit in Egypt resulting from rapid population growth and flow alteration associated with increased upstream damming. The large-scale degradation of the waterways system, observed since the mid-1980s, is perplexing, as Egyptians were historically more oriented to preserving the Nile ecosystem and the interrelated landscape for thousands of years. To assess the root cause of this phenomenon, we review the waterways’ public conservation campaigns and explore the grounds for their inefficiencies, failures, and subsequent impacts on transboundary water management. To achieve this objective, we compiled several research publications, local technical reports, and ground observations. Our results show that negligence toward the waterways accelerated during the nation's transition from water sufficiency in the 1970s (1400 m3/capita/year) to the onset of scarcity in the 1980s (<1000 m3/capita/year). The water authorities’ delay of 15 years in implementing conservation campaigns, which were unhurriedly initiated in the mid-1990s, along with unsustainable landscape transformations, led to nationwide water misuse and sanitary degradation of the Nile's infrastructure. Considering the findings of our review, we provide recommendations for improving the efficiency of waterways conservation campaigns. Our findings could be applied to other Nile riparian nations with similar environmental and socioeconomic settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101537
JournalJournal of Hydrology: Regional Studies
Volume50
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Keywords

  • Awareness campaigns
  • Landscape architecture
  • Nile
  • Water conservation
  • Waterways

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