Egypt’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Aty participated virtually in a session titled ‘Dialogue on Water Scarcity and Migration — Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Development in the Middle East and North Africa’, on the sidelines of MENA’s Climate Week in the UAE on Saturday.
In his speech, Abdel Aty pointed out that there are many forms of migration and population displacement due to water scarcity, which are exacerbated by climate change, such as the decline in water quantities in Lake Chad in Central Africa and the resulting tensions regarding water and the emergence of terrorist groups, which confirms the close link between water and climate.
The minister also noted the apparent impact of climate change on the hydrological cycle of water and on freshwater supplies unequally around the world, which poses a serious threat to water security, food security, livelihoods, and ecosystems, particularly affecting individuals and communities already suffering from fragile water conditions.
Furthermore, he pointed to the severe impact on delta regions as a result of the rise in sea level and the flooding of densely populated cities, which confirms the importance of achieving regional cooperation between countries on the basis of mutual benefit in the field of climate adaptation, emphasising the importance of updating national plans on water and climate in various countries.
Abdel Aty also referred to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which made it clear that climate change is increasingly leading to displacement and involuntary migration, and the resulting humanitarian crises, loss, and damage around the world.
The minister further added that the World Bank estimates that the MENA region can lose up to 14% of its gross national product by 2050 due to water stress, as indicated by the IPCC report, which showed that effective and sustainable water management reduces the severity of the effects of climate change.
Moreover, the minister stressed that Egypt is close to the limit of water scarcity, as the per capita share of water is about 560 cubic meters annually, and that 40% of the labour force in Egypt depends on agriculture as a main source of income.
He noted that to meet these challenges, the Egyptian state has drawn up a national plan to manage water resources until 2037, with investments amounting to $50 bn that are expected to increase to $100 bn.