Coping with water scarcity: Italy with FAO in the Nile Delta region in Egypt


CAIRO, MARCH 4 – A solar powered water lifting plant for irrigation in El-Souria site in the Nile Delta region is now up and running thanks to the regional project “Coping with Water Scarsity- the role of agriculture in strengthening national capacities” financed by the Italian Agency for Cooperation (AICS) and implemented by FAO. The plant was inaugurated at the end of January by the head of AICS in Cairo, Dr. Longobardi, the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation H.E. Mohamed Abdel-Ati, and by Mr. Hussein Gadain, Country Representative for FAO Egypt.

This programme  is a flagship initiative for cooperation between Italy and FAO. It’s implemented in Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt to run activities in line with piloting water lifting using solar energy from solar panel-covered canals.

Its main objectives in Egypt are to improve agriculture water management in the Nile Delta by reducing evaporation losses in canals and to provide a more sustainable source of energy for water lifting for irrigation. Its rationale is driven by the following reasons:

  • Irrigation canals in Egypt are generally below ground level, which makes pumping a must to deliver water to the fields.
  • Pumping for irrigation in the country has noticed drastic change to electricity to use in the recent decade.
  • Farmers are more vulnerable to electricity shortages, which are recently frequent, and
  • Land in the Delta is costly, therefore the installation of solar panels in the fields is not seen as a viable option.

So far a solar system has been installed in two sites: El-Afeer and El-Souria. Local local capacities on operation and maintenance of the new technique for the lifting of irrigation water from canals have been strengthened with with a service provided by the MWRI/National Water Research Center. A business model has also been designed to promote sustainable use of solar energy in irrigation in the Nile Delta with a service provided by the Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development. (@OnuItalia)