December 17th, 2009 by Editor
“Water pollution: a time bomb threatening the life of Egyptians”
The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights(EOHR) issued its qualitative report entitled “Water pollution: a time bomb threatening the life of Egyptians” on Thursday 17/12/2009 as part of the reports series issued by EOHR on the status of economic and social rights.
The number of cases monitored by the report during the period from 2008 – October 2009 is 41 cases of violation committed against the right to water, distributed between the problems of irrigation with 8 cases, and lack of drinking water with 33 cases.
The report reveals a set of challenges facing the water file in Egypt, and perhaps most important are as follows:
– The rate of pollution in Egypt is more than threefold of the world rates, as pollution reached a complex stage and it is difficult to be faced. The industrial contaminants which is untreated or partially treated and being emptied into the water reached 4.5 million tons per year, including 50 thousand tons of materials which is considered very harmful, besides, 35 thousand tons of the chemical industrial imports. The percentage of industrial organic pollutants thrown in the waterways is 270 tons per day equal to the amount of pollution resulting from 6 million persons. The solid wastes which being dumped in water annually are about14 million tons, while the volume of pollutants released from hospitals is about120 thousand tons per year, including 25 thousand tons of materials that is considered very harmful , besides the increase rate of poisoning resulted from pollution in the Egyptian governorates , the rate in Cairo governorate reached 35 % of the poisoning cases, 12 % in Giza governorate and 50% in Kaliobia governorate.
– Irrigating agricultural lands with sewage water , there are 38 million Egyptians drink from sewage water, and 4500 villages of seven thousand villages are still dependent on the toilet pits as a result of the absence of sewage systems, and 76% of the village water is mixed with sewage water .
– Inequitable distribution of water on the republic level, there is a lack of justice in the distribution of drinkable water between the city and village, about 38% of villages are covered by only drinking water, and 56% of villages which water is inadequate, and 6% of villages completely deprived from drinking water ,which means the absence of justice and the structural balances in the distribution of water level throughout the Republic.
– According to many reports and studies on the subject of water , there are 100 thousand persons infected with kidney failure every year in Egypt because of water pollution.
– Egypt may face a real problem of water deficiency by the year 2015 in the light of growing needs and the stability amount of available water the matter which requires a rational use on a large scale, the rate of individual is increased to 400 liters in Cairo and Alexandria, while the international rates are 200 liters per day . Also 80% of the drinkable water goes for agriculture, 15% for industry, electricity and energy and 5% for local use. Currently, the proportion of water used for drinking ,household uses is about 10% of the volume of water resources, and reached 7 billion cubic meters per year. Our production of drinking water provides 250 liters per day for citizen. The problem is concentrated in the terrible waste of water and misuse of it , for example, most of lands is currently supplied with surface irrigation system. The cultivated lands from the old or new lands is about 8 million acres, of which about 6 million acres planted under surface irrigation system.
As a result for the use of surface irrigation system, lands became unfit for cultivation, because of Lands’ saturation with water and salinity. Most of peasants are using 70% of water more than their needs and more than 60% of irrigation water is lost before it reaches the plants, while the efficiency of spray irrigation is about 75% and the efficiency of dripping system reaches about 90%. We must take into account the trend of encouraging cultivation that do not consume huge quantities of water.
These challenges come despite the government’s assertion to double the financial allocations for swage water system projects on the republic level for plan 2009-2010 which equal to one and half of the main balance .
According to the declared numbers , the initial value that has been allocated for sewage projects was about 3.4 billion pounds to finish 89 projects in 64 cities and 181 villages with high underground water level, the financial allocations have been increased to 8.7 billion pounds, while the financial allocations for drinking water projects will be 4.7 billion pounds.
It is worth noting that the first balance of the ministry’s plan was 4.4 billion pounds, and the share of drinking water projects was billion pounds to achieve 55 projects and 3.4 billion pounds for sewage system to achieve 270 projects.
– In a report of the World Bank issued in March 2009 entitled “Optimal utilization of water scarcity: accountability in order to improve the results of water management in the Middle East and North Africa,” . The report stated that about 1,1 billion persons suffer from obtaining clean water and about 2,6 million persons in a short need for sewage utilities. According to the data of “World Water Council,” by the year 2025 approximately 3,5 billion individuals will be in places where water is scarce or is about to become so.
In the light of the escalating water crisis in the country EOHR recommends the following :
1 – Adopting a strategy or plan to state the right to water, the proposed strategy is based on several measures:
-The development of water resources,
-The improvement of the efficient use of water resources currently available
– Protecting public health and the environment.
– Increasing the financial resources allocated for policies and water resources and the mechanisms of improving it especially after the government decreased the balance of drinking water sector and sewage system, as the investment allocations during balance 2009/2010 reached 5.9 billion pounds to witness a retreat from the previous year’s balance 2008/2009 with 10 billion pounds.
Also the strategy in this regard should depend on the following :
– Law and principles of human rights.
– Cover all aspects of the right to water and the state’s commitments as the strategy has to establish state responsibility for the occurrence of any negligence , and identify resources available to meet the needs and goals and to allocate resources in a manner that fits the framework of the problem faced by the State , and establish a national mechanisms for internal accountability to ensure implementation of the strategy. The State, in the formulation and implementation of national strategies for the right to water, could benefit from technical assistance and cooperation provided by specialized agencies of the United Nations in this context.
– Setting targets or goals to be achieved .
– Respecting the principles of non-discrimination and people’s participation when adopting and implementing strategies and plans for water .
In this regard , the international reports concerned with water cases confirmed the necessary of improving the public accountability for the governmental bodies and institutions and companies which produce water services. Governments, institutions and companies which produce services should see a clear results for the performance , to achieve this , the principle of accountability should be a achieved in order to know for the public what the reasons for the decision-making and outputs that may be expected.
The report recommends to set a national plan involving the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources , the Ministry of Agriculture , the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of Information since the latter will support the participation of citizens and farmers in the management of water resources and giving them the sense of ownership of irrigation and sewage systems, besides gathering all media efforts on all levels to achieve its noble mission and its role in handling water case as regarded one of the main investment cases.
As for the Ministry of Housing, it should develop the system of water station and sewage system to cope with the modern international systems taking into account that the national plan should include another plan for the replacement and renewal of the existed water stations and another plan for the replacement and renewal of networks drainage systems and leakage problems and to solve the problem of non application for technical standards in installing water networks thereby increasing the rate of leaking to reach 50% which in turn leads to the loss of nearly 40% of the productive capacity of drinking water.
In addition to the above, it is necessary to raise the efficiency of water and sewage networks and to draw a high detailed maps for these nets and to divide nets to sections in order to control each section electronically and to work to decrease the loss of networks by using the modern tools that detect places of leakage.
As for the Ministry of local development, it should encourage the public leaders in villages to stir up inhabitants to share in funding small systems for drinking water systems and sewage systems to eliminate the problem of lack of commitment at some stations by secure chlorine.
2 – Reconsidering legislations, strategies and water policies to ensure compliance with the obligations arising from the right to water stated in international covenants and conventions which were ratified by Egypt and to develop regulations governing the exploitation of water and to monitor the application of these regulations carefully and firmly.
3 – Uniting efforts of the competent institutions concerned to give effect to the provisions of the Environmental Law No. 4 of 1994 and the provisions of Law No. 48 of 1982 on the protection of the River Nile and waterways from pollution.
4 – Protecting the natural water resources from contamination by harmful substances and dangerous germs, and giving priority to the problem of sewage systems in villages and cities, and the need to use the Ozone instead of chlorine in the water to kill microbes and establish the required stations to treat the polluted industrial water and human waste water and water used in the tanneries, slaughterhouses, and others places before throwing it in clean streams .
5 – Circling areas in which to extract the groundwater used to supply inhabitants with a belt that commensurate with the magnitude of consumption, to prevent agriculture or construction or roads near this belt and to monitor the closed water areas from harmful or toxic substances.
6 – Supporting and expanding the work of chemical analysis laboratories related to monitor water pollution, and conduct periodic analysis of water quality and to give special attention to the environment conditions in the water of rivers, irrigation nets, lakes and coastal water, monitoring of pollution, and to take procedures to protect them from chemical pollution.
7 – Specifying television and radio programs aimed at enhancing water drop (the policy of consumption ), and to address all categories of society in this regard, particularly women,
with the participation of the executive bodies , People’s Councils , leaders of opinion, intellectuals and the press and media personnel , and NGOs with the use of modern technology that can be used to re-use of water and make it suitable for drinking again.
This entry was posted on Thursday, December 17th, 2009 at 3:43 pm and is filed under Reports, Statements. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.