Figure 2e.6: Water use by sector in Northern Africa 1900-2025
Source: Shiklomanov 1999
Agriculture, particularly the production of cash crops, is heavily dependent on irrigation, and consumes more than 80 per cent of withdrawals, while industry and the domestic sector consume 5.6 per cent and 10 per cent of withdrawals respectively (UNDP and others 2000). Irrigated areas represent 100 per cent of cultivated areas in Egypt, 26 per cent in Sudan and 9 per cent in Tunisia (FAOSTAT 1997). In response to the rising demand for water and increasing water scarcity, some countries supplement their water resources through desalination and the reuse of treated municipal wastewater. Tunisia, for example, supplements surface and groundwater extraction with 8.3 million m3/yr of desalinated seawater, and 20 million m3/yr of treated wastewater (FAOSTAT 1997). In Egypt, 8 per cent of the total water used comes from the reuse of agricultural or municipal wastewater, and less than 1 per cent comes from the desalinisation of seawater, although the flourishing tourism industry is pushing for the severalfold increase of the current desalination capacity by 2010 (FAOSTAT 1997).
The interdisciplinary nature of water problems requires new methods to integrate the technical, hydrological, economic, environmental, social and legal aspects into a coherent framework of IWRM (McKinney and others 1999). Since the 1990s, most northern African countries have realized that the business-as-usual scenario of dealing with water management and water security issues is no longer suitable to cope with future challenges, and they are starting to implement IWRM strategies. Countries have created enabling environments for IWRM by developing legal and institutional frameworks for effective operation. For example Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia have developed national policies and master plans for water management, based on IWRM principles, and the Algerian government has created five Basin Authorities for IWRM. In Tunisia and Egypt, groundwater recharging schemes have been adopted, together with equitable models of water use between user groups. Water use associations have also been formally established in Morocco and Tunisia. Also under the banner of IWRM, a national drought management plan has been put in place in Morocco, and a national programme for the abatement of wastewater discharge into the Nile River has been successfully instituted in Egypt. However, continued support for IWRM is required in terms of: ongoing capacity building; institutional coordination; improved information exchange and processing; and sustainable funding and political commitment.
The Nile Basin Initiative represents an excellent example of cooperation within the framework of IWRM between the ten Nile riparian countries (see Box 2e.3). The Joint Authority for the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer is another example of cooperation between Sudan, Libya, Egypt and Chad, in order to formulate and to monitor strategies for the rational utilization of the NSA.
|Box 2e.3 Overcoming conflicts associated with transboundary water resources|
|Source: EIA 2000, ICCON 2001|