Egypt fears decline in Nile water levels this year, say experts

A picture taken on September 9, 2017 shows a view of the Nile river in the southern Egyptian city of Luxor. (AFP)
Updated 29 July 2019

Egypt fears decline in Nile water levels this year, say experts

  • A report issued by the ministry said that the High Dam was prepared to receive the rise in water levels that marks the start of the 2019-2020 water year, which begins in August

CAIRO: The Egyptian Irrigation Ministry announced the decline in the Nile water by about 5 billion cubic meters from last year, according to an official statement.
The government declared a state of maximum emergency in all governorates during the coming period to ensure the country’s water needs, especially drinking water, to meet the demand for household uses and periodic monitoring of agricultural land irrigation.
According to the Ministry of Irrigation, the flood season runs from Aug. 1 until mid-November, and all the agencies of the ministry took major measures, from the High Dam Unit to the irrigation sector.
Abdullatif Khalid, head of the irrigation sector in the ministry, confirmed that the current level of water in the Nile River is 55.5 billion cubic meters. He said that this quantity is low because drinking water is consuming 11 billion cubic meters, as against 7 billion last year. Industrial usage consumes 8 billion cubic meters and the rest is distributed to agriculture.
“Egypt will certainly be affected by this decline, so we call for rationalization and austerity in water consumption,” he said, pointing out that population growth and climate change are factors that increase the demand for more water.
A report issued by the ministry said that the High Dam was prepared to receive the rise in water levels that marks the start of the 2019-2020 water year, which begins in August.

The necessary maintenance works were carried out for its installations, emergency floods and gates.
The water levels start to rise as flood waters arrive from Ethiopia via the blue Nile, passing through Khartoum before arriving at Lake Nasser in Aswan Governorate. The water comes partly from rains on the Ethiopian hills, and partly from the opening of dams by the Khartoum authorities (Al-Roussiris, Sennar-Merwi, Upper Atbara, Sitit-Khashm Al-Qurba) in preparation for the start of the new floodwater storage, which begins in August every year. The season ends in October-November.
Dr. Iman Al-Sayyid, head of the irrigation ministry, said that the ministry has monitoring devices for the indicators of the rainy season in the Nile basin, pointing out that the rate of rainfall is expected to be lower than previous years.
She added that the low rainfall rates on the Nile Basin countries — specifically Ethiopia — is behind the decline in water levels of the Nile, confirming that the low rate of rainfall is a natural phenomenon for Egypt, Sudan and the rest of the Nile Basin countries.
She said that the ministry has an early-warning system to monitor the water situation on a continuous basis, and has a strategy to deal with emergencies.


54 injured as Lebanese security forces and Hezbollah supporters clash in central Beirut

Updated 15 December 2019

54 injured as Lebanese security forces and Hezbollah supporters clash in central Beirut

  • Attackers threw stones and firecrackers at security forces, who responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets
  • The Internal Security Forces said at least 20 police were wounded, some of them badly

BEIRUT: Security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets at Lebanese protesters in central Beirut on Saturday in clashes that went on into the night and wounded dozens of people.

Among the badly injured were policeman after Hezbollah and Amal Movement supporters clashed with anti-government protesters, less than 32 hours before a key parliamentary meeting to nominate a new Lebanese leader.

Attackers threw stones and firecrackers at security forces, who responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

State news agency NNA said the tear gas made several people faint. The Lebanese Civil Defense said it treated 54 people for injuries, taking more than half to hospital.

The Internal Security Forces said at least 20 police were wounded.

Riot police took more than 90 minutes to contain the attackers in areas surrounding Riad El-Solh and Martyrs squares, forcing them to retreat to the Khandak El-Ghamik and Zqaq El-Blat neighborhoods, where Hezbollah and the Amal Movement have strong support.

Clashes have become more frequent in recent weeks, with supporters of Hezbollah and Amal attacking protest camps in several cities amid counter-demonstrations.

The renewed attacks on protesters came a day after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah claimed that both the militant group and Amal “are exercising control over their supporters and that attackers do not belong to them.”

Khandak El-Ghamik residents told reporters that the attackers are not from the area.

“We do not know who they are,” one resident said.

The counter-protests have taken place in the capital and other Lebanese cities in recent weeks, prompting the leader of Hezbollah on Friday to urge his supporters — and those of Amal — to stay calm.

Following the violence, a local sheikh went to the minaret of a neighborhood mosque and called on the attackers to “go back to their homes.”

Abu Ali, an elder of the region, said that the attackers came from areas outside Beirut and infiltrated Khandak El-Ghamik before launching attacks on protesters in Riad El-Solh and Martyrs squares.

Activist Mahmoud Fakih told Arab News: “The attackers were chanting slogans showing their political affiliations. These attacks are repeated after every speech by Nasrallah. They want to spread fear in our ranks.”

The attacks coincided with plans by protesters to stage a sit-in in Nejmeh Square, near the Parliament. Activists said they wanted “to rescue the Parliament from corrupt authority.”

Security forces blocked the square to prevent protesters getting close to Parliament.

Hundreds of people had been marching in the capital as part of a historic wave of protests that has swept Lebanon since Oct. 17, furious at a ruling elite that steered the country toward its worst economic crisis in decades.

Since the protests pushed Saad Al-Hariri to resign as prime minister, talks between the main parties have been deadlocked for weeks over forming a new cabinet.

Lebanon urgently needs a new government to pull it out of the crisis. Foreign donors say they will only help after the country gets a cabinet that can enact reforms.

The unrest erupted in October from a build-up of anger at the rising cost of living, new tax plans and the record of sectarian leaders dominating the country since its 1975-90 civil war. Protesters accuse the political class of milking the state for their own benefit through networks of patronage.

Lebanon’s economic crisis, long in the making, has now come to a head: Pressure has piled on the pegged Lebanese pound. A hard currency crunch has left many importers unable to bring in goods, and banks have restricted dollar withdrawals. 

(With Reuters)