Egypt to make use of ‘Dragon Storm’ water 

A man walks through rain in a heavily flooded street in the New Cairo suburb of the Egyptian capital on March 12, 2020 amidst a heavy rain storm. (AFP)
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Updated 17 March 2020

Egypt to make use of ‘Dragon Storm’ water 

  • The minister and his aides conducted a field tour to check on the progress of work in sewage stations and the pumping out of rainwater from various roads and districts

CAIRO: Egypt’s parliament has drawn up plans to make use of the water that fell during recent torrential thunderstorms in anticipation of a potential water crisis with Ethiopia over its Renaissance Dam.
According to Mamdouh Raslan, head of the Holding Company for Drinking Water and Sanitation in Egypt, it was estimated that the amount of water that fell on the coastal city of Alexandria during last weekend’s storm, dubbed the “Dragon,” reached 5 million square meters.
Widespread flooding caused by heavy rain across large swathes of Egypt on Thursday and Friday killed at least 20 people. The Cabinet said the country had not seen such rain in 40 years.
MP Abdel-Hadi Al-Qasabi said that climate change confirmed the necessity of maximizing the utilization of rainwater and floods, especially, he added, since many countries have developed similar methods for use in the agricultural sector.
Al-Qasabi stressed that doing so would benefit the public and called on the government to present a plan on storing water and educating people in this regard.
MP Khaled Fahmy said he would renew his proposal to take advantage of rainwater by erecting curbs on sidewalks where rainwater could be collected and poured into wells. He said that treating rainwater would not cost the state “all that much.”
Another MP suggested that a map of water pools be drawn up for all governorates in view of the water scarcity, adding that the government needed to expand agricultural areas.
Minister of Housing Assem El-Gazzar corroborated the necessity of implementing permanent solutions to make use of the unprecedented amounts of rain witnessed by the country last week.
El-Gazzar said that he, along with other ministry officials, were monitoring efforts to extract rainwater and to deal with the poor weather conditions that have recently afflicted Egypt.
The minister and his aides conducted a field tour to check on the progress of work in sewage stations and the pumping out of rainwater from various roads and districts.
Adel Hassan, head of the Cairo Wastewater Company, said that Egypt had been preparing for bad weather and that proper equipment had been employed, including 120 vehicles that have collected rainwater from the streets of Cairo.
Hassan added that government vehicles have transported water to citizens affected by water shortage in parts of Cairo.
He said that a plan was being studied to see whether the state would need to develop its infrastructure in a manner more suited to the management of inclement weather.
Saving rainwater could become crucial should the Egypt-Ethiopia dispute over Addis Ababa’s Renaissance Dam become exacerbated, which Cairo fears would significantly diminish its water supply from the River Nile.
The dam is now more than 70 percent complete, and Ethiopia plans to start filling its reservoir in July.


Amnesty slams Qatar tracing app for exposing data of a million users

Updated 34 min 56 sec ago

Amnesty slams Qatar tracing app for exposing data of a million users

  • Glitch made users’ ID numbers, location, infection status vulnerable to hackers
  • More than 47,000 of Qatar’s 2.75 million people have tested positive for

DOHA: A security flaw in Qatar’s controversial mandatory coronavirus contact tracing app exposed sensitive information of more than one million users, rights group Amnesty International warned Tuesday.
The glitch, which was fixed on Friday after being flagged by Amnesty a day earlier, made users’ ID numbers, location and infection status vulnerable to hackers.
Privacy concerns over the app, which became mandatory for residents and citizens on pain of prison from Friday, had already prompted a rare backlash and forced officials to offer reassurance and concessions.
Users and experts had criticized the array of permissions required to install the app including access to files on Android devices, as well as allowing the software to make unprompted phone calls.
Despite insisting the unprecedented access was necessary for the system to work, officials said they would address privacy concerns and issued reworked software over the weekend.
“Amnesty International’s Security Lab was able to access sensitive information, including people’s name, health status and the GPS coordinates of a user’s designated confinement location, as the central server did not have security measures in place to protect this data,” the rights group said in a statement.
“While Amnesty International recognizes the efforts and actions taken by the government of Qatar to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures introduced to date, such as access to free health care, all measures must be in line with human rights standards.”
More than 47,000 of Qatar’s 2.75 million people have tested positive for the respiratory disease — 1.7 percent of the population — and 28 people have died.
Like other countries, Qatar has turned to mobiles to trace people’s movements and track who they come into contact with, allowing officials to monitor coronavirus infections and flag possible contagion.
“The Ehteraz app’s user privacy and platform security are of the utmost importance,” Qatar’s health ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
“A comprehensive update of the app was rolled out on Sunday May 24 with expanded security and privacy features for all users.”
But Etheraz, which means “Precaution,” continues to allow real-time location tracking of users by authorities at any time, Amnesty said.
“It was a huge security weakness and a fundamental flaw in Qatar’s contact tracing app that malicious attackers could have easily exploited,” said Claudio Guarnieri, head of the group’s security lab.
“The Qatari authorities must reverse the decision to make use of the app mandatory,” he said.