The Netherlands helps Egypt with water issues

22-01-2017 08:57 PM

Nevine Kameel


 

Minister of Infrastructure and Environment of the Netherlands Melanie Schultz has

been in Egypt for a two-day visit with her counterpart, Minister for Water and

Irrigation Mohamed Abd el-Aati. The Ministers discussed Dutch-Egyptian

cooperation in coastal zone management, water and agriculture, rural sanitation

and wastewater management. They also visited coastal defences near Alexandria.

On 12 January 2017, Minister Schultz van Haegen spoke at the Egyptian-Dutch

high-level Water Panel in Alexandria (Egypt) about coastal management, water

and agriculture. The minister praised the actions deployed by the Water Panel, but

at the same time emphasised the many opportunities for further cooperation in the

field of know-how exchange and projects. Schultz said: “There are many solutions

and successful approaches at hand. Not just in the future, but now. This panel

offers us a perfect platform for exchanging experiences. A springboard to

investment in clear, practical actions that will benefit both our countries. Because

making our world safer and better for everyone is a work in progress.”

“The last time I was in Egypt was in August 2015 at the opening of the new Suez

canal,” Schulz said. “A true masterpiece, whose construction set a world record.

Something that Egypt can be very proud of. And also proof of the fruitful

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partnership between Egypt and the Netherlands. Dutch dredging companies played

an important part in this enormous and complex project.

“Equally enormous and complex are all the water-related challenges we both face.

This morning I visited some impressive field projects. It was good to see with my

own eyes the actions and challenges that lie ahead on issues like coastal erosion.

“Our countries have a special bond with water. We’ve been working together

closely in this field for more than 40 years now!

The Memorandum of Understanding we signed in November 2014 is a good

illustration of our partnership. With this MoU we expressed our joint interest in the

further development of a long-term balanced partnership on water.  

This is a process of change. We’re moving from a relationship based on

development cooperation, towards a relation based on mutual benefits.

From a primarily government to government relationship towards a cooperation

involving governments, private sector, knowledge institutes and donors in both

countries. As well as donors like the World Bank, the European Union and the

Green Climate Fund. And the focus of our relationship is shifting from studies to

financing and implementation of projects.

“Let’s take coastal zone management as an example. Coastal erosion is a major

concern both in Egypt and in the Netherlands. In the Netherlands it threatens the

stability of the dunes which protect an area that is home to 4 million people.

We’re trying to safeguard the stability of the dunes by opting for ‘building with

nature’ solutions based on sand nourishment.  

Our approach is based on prevention. A far better and also more economical

solution than accepting a high risk of flooding.  

“I realise the situation along Egypt’s northern coast is different. For a start, it’s a

thousand kilometres long.  Some stretches are densely populated like here in

Alexandria and also Port Said, other parts are sparsely populated.

“It’s likely that in Egypt too, prevention is better than accepting high risks of

flooding or loss of land. The question is, which measures are most effective and

where are they needed? Can building with ‘nature and sand nourishment concepts

be applied here as well? What other measures can be implemented in  specific

situations?

“As we all know, there is not a ‘one size fits all solution’.”

Schulz then went on to talk about water and agriculture. “I am especially looking

forward to the presentation on Geodata and satellite, information,” she said, both

promising techniques. The Netherlands and the FAO started an initiative using

Remote Sensing data to monitor crop water productivity, or ‘crop per drop’.

It creates great opportunities for policymakers, private sector and farmers to

improve water use in agriculture.”

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Watani International

22 January 2017

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