FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

Rapid Water Accounting Workshop to investigate local water issues in Kafr el Sheikh in Egypt

September 2020 - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation (MWRI) is undertaking Rapid Water Accounting (RWA) – the first cycle of a water accounting process. Together, they engage local stakeholders in a co-assessment of the critical water issues in a participatory workshop. The aim is to gain a joint understanding of the local water situation and causes of water scarcity. It also enables local stakeholders engaged in the assessment process to both learn about a new approach-water accounting and learn by doing while identifying critical issues, data gaps after collecting the available information and possible points for interventions. RWA activities are a first step to inform efficient management of water resources that is sustainable and inclusive.

This activity is implemented in the context of the project ‘Implementing the 2030 Agenda for water efficiency/productivity and water sustainability in NENA countries’ (NENA-WepS), implemented by FAO with funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requires evidently a ‘transformational’ change in managing strategic resources, such as water, land and energy. But changes are more difficult when resources are scarce and is already intensely used. Egypt is water stressed with 500 m3/inhabitant per year and dependent for 90 percent for its water on the Nile river- a shared resource. Agriculture, dependent on irrigation, uses 98 percent of all the water withdrawn (Egypt Aquastat Country profile http://www.fao.org/3/i9729en/I9729EN.pdf).

Water Accounting is therefore an important tool to help investigate systematically resources and demands in state and trends, and contribute to scenario analysis for strategic planning. RWA works in cycles and identifies priority problems, needs for more detailed analysis/data collection, uncertainties, capacity building needs, and water uses and pathways. 

The WA process in its different cycles supports the country need to strategically plan their water resources management and decide on water allocation. It enables to review those allocation decisions Vis a Vis food production, food security and energy policies; vis-a-vis effective investment plans; accounting for transboundary surface and groundwater requirements. Understanding the situation and identifying the best practices is important to ensure alignment with the imperatives of (i) setting the sustainable limits of water consumption, and (ii) making the best use of available water, including the use of non-conventional water sources.

In Egypt, the RWA Workshop was organized in Kafr El Sheikh Governorate after a preparation phase of data collection and analysis. The workshop had the following objectives: (i) inform and engage local stakeholders about MWRI’s water accounting activities for the site in the governorate , (ii) collect together missing data necessary to complete the assessment of water resources, infrastructures, demands and access during the field visits and workshop, and (iii) familiarize the workshop participants with the different systems and applications developed and customized by MWRI planning sector teams to facilitate data collection and be able to store  it in central database to serve the different sectors in the Ministry.

The workshop gathered 25 participants, including representatives from MWRI, the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, partner organizations, and other local stakeholders. The FAO water accounting team assisted by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) introduced the various tools used to implement RWA. The participants were familiarized with the use of a hydrological conceptual model that can build the state of reference following the water flow and represented as a drawing of a hydrological flow model for the study area. The follow up actions after this workshop are to improve the RWA assessment with further data collection and a desk review of the government documents on water management by MWRI and development of a RWA Workshop Report by FAO. The study area is located in the Sidi Ghazi area (240 sq. km) and its four major components are the Beteita Canal (including gates), the canal improvement site where local farmers were engaged as important stakeholders and the mixing station involved in mixing canal water with drainage water. Some issues at the site involved the increase in ammonia content in the water and a 28.2 percent shortage of water resources.


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