CAIRO: Protests and violence continued to spread throughout the country Thursday over shortages of clean drinking water.
In Dakahlia, where unrest over the deteriorating water situation has grown over the past three weeks, residents of 57 villages fought one another with sticks and rocks in the scramble to fill their water containers in the temporarily refilled water tank, leaving about 30 injured, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.
In Safaga citizens went directly to the governor Abou-Bakr El-Rashidi demanding a solution to the shortages, and complaining over the disproportionate allocation of water resources to nearby tourist resorts.
Similar complaints were made earlier in the week by residents of Saft Al-Laban in Giza, who claimed water was reaching a private school owned by an MP, as well as the houses of government officials.
The government has passed a resolution allocating LE 2 billion to provide a water network over the long term, but critics question what is being done now.
“[Long term projects] do not help people who need water right now, Habiba Wasses of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) previously told Daily News Egypt.
In scenes replicating those seen in Dakahlia, thousands of villagers from Beni Sueif are resorting to drinking polluted canal water where effluent and the corpses of dead animals are dumped, facing threats of illness and disease.
In recent years, says Wasses, there has been a notable increase in parasitic illnesses, kidney problems and cancer, likely related to drinking dirty water.
Furthermore, thousands of residents from towns and villages in the Damietta governorate are threatening action against the Dakahlia municipal council, after accusing them of redirecting their water to supply the Besat Karim Eddin water station.
Director of the Institute for National Planning, Ola Hakim, told Daily News Egypt earlier this week that NGOs needed to do more to provide relief.
“[Organizations] like the UNDP and Unicef could be doing more, she said.
Hakim was critical of the government’s slow response to react to the crisis, but said it was now taking the situation “extremely seriously .
The Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation was unavailable for comment.