Egypt adopts measures to tackle challenges of rain, torrents

Photo taken on March 12, 2020 shows a flooded street in Cairo, Egypt. Egyptian capital Cairo witnessed a thunderstorm and heavy rains on Thursday. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)
Photo taken on March 12, 2020, shows a flooded street in Cairo, Egypt. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)

The Egyptian government has adopted a several-measure plan to face up to the expected winter torrents with a total cost of 6 billion Egyptian pounds (about 382 million U.S. dollars.)

The ministry of water resources and irrigation has announced a state of public alert for dealing with the rainy season, stressing the readiness for the protection facilities against the dangers of torrents.

“Over the past few years, the ministry has been carrying out a plan for establishing dams and artificial lakes to avoid flooding catastrophes that often badly impact some cities in southern Egypt,” Mohamed Ghanem, spokesperson of the ministry of water resources and irrigation told Xinhua in a recent interview.

“We have founded a large number of dams in Sinai, Red Sea and Matrouh provinces and other areas with a cost of 127 million U.S. dollars,” Ghanem said, noting that there are still some other projects under construction.

He explained that several artificial lakes for reserving the water have been established in front of the dams and proved effective especially in the Bedouin areas in Sinai over a long period of time.

He added that the government not only works to prevent the torrents from destroying the water facilities but also aims at controlling the watercourse for people living near the dams and lakes.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Fawzy, professor of water resources with the Cairo-based Desert Research Center, said that the country’s preparedness plan works on increase the water storage by diverting the course of the torrents to the Nile River, the canals and the ground tanks.

He explained that redirecting the water required establishing more dams, cleaning the sewers and torrent trajectories to turn the rainfalls into a blessing for the farmers.

“The heavy rainfalls have negative effects on the substructure system in Egypt,” he added, deeming that climate change will cause more rains in the coming years.

Egypt saves around 1 billion cubic meters of water annually from the rain and torrents, which constitutes less than 2 percent of the country’s renewable water resources, according to Abbas Sharaqy, professor of water resources at Cairo University.

He said that Egypt has a fixed share of Nile water over the past 50 years despite the double increase of the population, and the government has to protect the people from the dangers of flood and make best use of the water storage.

He said rainfalls threaten the cities along the Red Sea and the provinces of Upper Egypt from October to March each year and their impacts depend on the quantities of rains, the degree of downhill, and the distance from the towns.

He hailed the government precautionary plans over the past years, however, he called for establishing a speed emergency unit to deal with the torrent dangers.

On Tuesday, the Egyptian army announced that the people and military defense forces have implemented joint exercises in cooperation with the country’s executive bodies for tackling the crisis of forecasted rainfalls, floods and torrents in several provinces.