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IMPLEMENTING IWRM IN EGYPT: FROM CONCEPT TO REALITY

Congress: 2008
Author(s): Eric Viala

Article:
AbstractIMPLEMENTING IWRM IN EGYPT: FROM CONCEPT TO REALITY Eng. Maher Khodary , Eng. Nabil Fawzi , Eric Viala ABSTRACT Managing water resources is becoming an increasingly difficult task, from technical, economic, social, and political perspectives. This is especially true in Egypt where multiple and growing demands are competing for a limited water supply. In order to deal with increasingly complex technical issues, the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation (MWRI) has over the years set up various specialized units and departments able to deal with drainage, groundwater, water quality, and irrigation improvement issues. This has facilitated the implementation of specific projects and activities but the resulting fragmentation drastically hampers cross-sectoral coordination, timely decision-making, and thus modern (integrated) water management. Acknowledging this situation, the MWRI has adopted Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) as official policy. Although IWRM has been a common buzzword in water communities around the world for some time now, it is often a challenge for many water managers to propose a practical translation of the concept or outline a concrete implementation process. The USAID-funded LIFE-IWRM Project has over the past three years provided technical assistance to the MWRI, in order to turn the IWRM concept into practical implementation with concrete benefits for MWRI staff and water users. This has produced, over an area of 1.2 M acres (15% of Egypt’s irrigated area), the following outputs: - Consolidation of MWRI local delegations through the establishment and empowerment of 27 Integrated Water Management Districts (IWMDs); - Effective Water User Participation via the formation and strengthening of over 600 Branch Canal Water User Associations (BCWUAs); and - Capacity-building and procedures for systematic data collection and analysis to support decentralized decision making. Concrete benefits in terms of improved water management have been acknowledged by both Ministry officials and water users: • From the establishment of IWMDs: o Pooling of resources, equipment and skills (e.g. consolidation of irrigation & drainage functions): IWMD managers are able to carry out more activities, better serve water users, and use equipment more intensively; o Streamlined communication channels: MWRI General Directors (4-5 districts), are pleased with the empowerment and responsiveness of IWMDs; and o Decentralized and simplified decision-making (notably for water distribution). • From the involvement of BCWUAs: o IWMD staff mention improved communications with water users, fewer violations and complaints, improved conflict resolution, and better identification and prioritization of maintenance needs; o Water users welcome the enhanced communication with IWMD staff, improved internal conflict resolution, and better tackling of their needs and priorities; most importantly, water users and stakeholders value the “single window office” that the IWMD became. • From the water data systems: o IWMD managers and MWRI General directors enjoy access to routine and reliable data for analysis and decision taking; o Water users’ awareness and participation is supported by the provision and explanation of water data. Finally and more importantly, detailed guidelines have been produced to provide the MWRI with the step by step processes necessary to replicate these achievements over the entire country.
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