The Challenge of Water Scarcity
The Middle East and North Africa region is one of those most affected by climate change and hydrological extremes, facing challenges such as low rainfall and high temperatures. Climate change is expected to put significant pressure on already scarce water resources. Egypt’s dependency on the Nile is 97% of its total renewable water resources, making it vulnerable to flow variation due to climate change or upstream human activities. Its water share currently stands at 560 m3 annually per capita, which is far below the water poverty line (1000 m3 annually per capita). Due to the effects of climate change and the rapid population growth, the annual share of water per person is expected to drop below the 500 m3 threshold of absolute water scarcity before 2030.
The Sustainable Way Forward
Egypt is working on maximizing its water resources to meet the growing demand. The national measures include rationing water use, improving water quality, providing additional water resources and creating a suitable climate for optimal water management. The government has launched a national plan for water resources until 2037 and allocated $50 billion for water projects, possibly extending to $100 billion.
Where AUC Is Making an Impact
Well-educated graduates and innovative technologies are crucial to implementing water-related adaptation actions in Egypt and the region. Therefore, AUC supports innovation in water-related education and research activities.
- The Water, Energy, Food Technologies Diploma aims to qualify professionals in the field of water, agriculture and energy to implement adaptation measures and sustainable resources management in desert areas.
- Research activities addressing water scarcity encompass water and wastewater treatment and recycling using low-cost approaches; water desalination research, including the development of novel desalination membranes with enhanced performances; the optimization of water desalination systems for solar energy use; and performance enhancement of mobile desalination units for use in remote locations.
- The Center for Applied Research on the Environment and Sustainability (CARES) aims to help Egypt, Africa and the MENA region to adapt to climate change by combining the three S’s of sun, sand and salty water to produce food sustainably. The Water-Energy-Food nexus entails research models for achieving resource security and demonstrating the concept of a circular economy, resting on the use of solar energy in seawater desalination and using the resulting fresh water for fish farming, from which the effluent water is used in crop cultivation.