Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation1
The world faces many challenges from the beginning of the new century. An increase of nearly 2.6 billion in the world population within the first quarter of the century with its implications on the economic development, basis health, and food production seriously threatens the already stressed and fragile ecosystem of the planet. Water has emerged as one of the most vital issues facing the society and is moving up the global agenda. Other issues, such as public health, poverty, climate change, biodiversity, deforestation, and desertification, are closely linked to water, its use, and management. The current rate of increase in water withdrawal is twice the rate of growth in population. This trend is estimated to worsen over the next 25 years creating serious water shortages, heavy pollution loads, widespread public health problems, and serious damage to the world's ecosystems. The Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation (MWRI) is the primary government agency charged with management of water resources in Egypt. The MWRI is aware of the need for policy reforms that will effectively address the water needs of a growing population and agricultural expansion. MWRI has three main axial policy objectives: 1. Development of additional water resources. 2. More efficient use of the available water resources. 3. Improvement of water quality to protect public health and the environment. The MWRI has adopted a policy to integrate all water management functions at the district level to support decentralized management. These districts are called Integrated Water Management Districts (IWMD). An IWMD is a single entity that operates and maintains all water resources and facilities under its jurisdiction for irrigation, drainage, groundwater and pump stations to deliver water to users equitably. Starting in 2003, the MWRI has initiated the large-scale formation of Branch Canal water Users Associations (BCWUAs), starting first with 94 of them in 4 pilot irrigation districts, and now with several hundreds of them over five entire irrigation directorates. A different approach has been developed and implemented, emphasizing the direct involvement of MWRI field staff and a partnership between water users and MWRI managers, to increase awareness and capacity building concerning water management and use at the local level. This paper argues that the approach of employing IWMDs and BCWUAs users, and empowering them to take over the water management and use improvement initiatives at local level, can be adapted and succeeded to increase public participation and improve water management within the Egyptian context. 1. Eng. Moamen EL-Sharkawy, 2004. Implementing District Level Integrated Water Management With Stakeholder Participation (Paper published in the United States Committee for Irrigation and Drainage (USCID) Third International Conference on Irrigation and Drainage, Water District Management and Governance, held in San Diego, California, March 30 - April 2, 2005. 2.Integrated Water Management Unit. 2004. "Report of the stakeholder participation activity of the RSC/WP Integrated Water Resources Management Component." Egyptian Environmental Policy Program, Red Sea Sustainable Development and Improved Water Rsources Management.