Water supply and sanitation

The piped water supply in Egypt increased between 1990 and 2010 from 89% to 100% in urban areas and from 39% to 93% in rural areas despite rapid population growth.

Over that period, Egypt achieved the elimination of open defecation in rural areas and invested in infrastructure.

Access to an improved water source in Egypt is now practically universal with a rate of 99%. About one half of the population is connected to sanitary sewers.

Partly because of low sanitation coverage about 17,000 children die each year because of diarrhoea. Another challenge is low cost recovery due to water tariffs that are among the lowest in the world.

This in turn requires government subsidies even for operating costs, a situation that has been aggravated by salary increases without tariff increases after the Arab Spring.

Poor operation of facilities, such as water and wastewater treatment plants, as well as limited government accountability and transparency, are also issues.

Irrigated land and crops

Due to the absence of appreciable rainfall, Egypt’s agriculture depends entirely on irrigation. The main source of irrigation water is the river Nile of which the flow is controlled by the high dam at Aswan.

It releases, on average, 55 cubic kilometres water per year, of which some 46 cubic kilometres are diverted into the irrigation canals.

In the Nile valley and delta, almost 33,600 square kilometres of land benefit from these irrigation waters producing on average 1.8 crops per year.