29 March 2013

Blog entry about the unlikelihood of water conflict cites TFDD

China dams the world! I remember seeing a paper with this title. Would someone have written a similar title of Britain or the USA back when those countries led dam efforts? I am not sure. It seems that today, given what we officially now know, we should proceed with caution when developing water resources. I would argue that we knew there was risk to human and environmental systems long before the World Commission on Dams Report came out. But, the dominant voice concluded that water alterations through damming and channeling are not a threat, but a benefit. Now the dominant voice is saying no more dams, as the developing world dams the last remaining stretches of wild rivers.

Dams are not the only issue, though people like to simplify. The water resources issues we are facing globally as we increasingly use and abuse our surface water resources, increase food and industrial production (that consumes most of the available water budget) for a growing population, and head into the unknown with climate change are very very complex. Complex challenges require complex understanding - as a conversation went with the author of a blog entry about an article discussing the threat of China developing dams. The blog cites the Oregon State University's Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database's information resources.


Hydro Power and Chauvinism a Bad Mix


Apparently all that is required these days to be lauded as a “strategic thinker” is an opinion and a good supply of scary adjectives. I have both and I will employ them on deconstructing the esteemed Professor Brahma Chellaney’s recent newspaper article “Regional ties threatened by China’s dam drive“. I will argue the article is chauvinistic, ill informed, and contributes nothing to the debate on hydro power in the Mekong or elsewhere.
The version of the article I saw appeared in the Bangkok Post Roundup section Saturday, 9 March, 2013. Professor Chellaney accuses China of “riding roughshod over downstream countries”, “establishing a hydro-supremacy unparalled on any continent” by, “appropriat[ing] waters before they cross its frontiers” and remaining a “stumbling block” by “refusing to enter into any water sharing treaty with any neighbor”. Chellaney admonishes China that should it continue on its “heedless course”, the prospects for a rule-based order in Asia “could perish forever”.  Gadzooks fetch my saber Johnny Chinaman needs a lesson eh what!
With such astonishing alarmist rhetoric it’s hard to know where to begin? How about we start with the pot calling the kettle black.
China and India will consume 31 percent of the world’s energy by 2035. Total energy production by source is not that different. China’s energy mix is coal (69%), oil (22%), hydroelectricity (6%). India is coal (52%), oil (34%) and hydroelectricity (5%). Got a problem with the numbers, take it up with Forbes.
China has more nearly three times the installed electricity capacity of India (China: 391.4 gigawatts, India: 126.3 gigawatts) produces nearly four times as much electricity (2,079.7 billion kilowatt hours compared to 556.8 billion kilowatt hours), and consumes nearly four times as much (China: 1,927 billion kilowatt hours India: 519 billion kilowatt hours). Perhaps what we have here is a case of pylon envy.
And why shouldn’t China build more dams? Because they are out of fashion in the West? How else will China generate the power that drives its economy (the one Western countries are counting on to produce an endless supply of cheap goods)? More coal/oil/natural gas powered electric plants? More nuclear? Windmills?
As for appropriating waters before they cross frontiers, look no further than India’s grand plan to divert 30 rivers, or as the Indian side prefers to call it, “river linking”.  Aside from the unproven claims of benefits to Indians, these diversions would seriously threaten the livelihoods of more than 100 million people downstream in Bangladesh. At one point, Bengali ministers were so concerned they considered appealing to the United Nations to redraft international law on water sharing. The multi-billion dollar project was first proposed in 2002 and has since remained on paper, but this is beginning to change with some political momentum behind the idea since the Supreme Court made an order that the project should go ahead. The political situation in Nepal could mean India will be able to build dams and reservoirs in the countries territory in an interlinking project. Bhutan also is in a similar position geographically, and could be affected by the proposal. Bangladeshi water expert Ainun Nishat was quoted as saying, “India assumes that these rivers stop at its borders and that there will be no downstream impacts to Bangladesh if it did anything to those resources”. How’s that for hegemony?
As for “refusing to enter into any water sharing treaty with any neighbor”, China and India are both signatories to same 16 major environmental agreements2. The only one they don’t share is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. China is a member of five international river basin organizations, India eight. India’s transboundary water agreements are notoriously one-sided. In 1996 The Mekong River Commission (MRC) held its first Dialogue Meeting with China and Myanmar. China has been attending meetings as an official observer ever since. In 2002, China signed an agreement with the MRC on the provision of hydrological information on the Lancang/Mekong River. Under the agreement China provides water level data in the flood season from two stations located on the Upper Mekong in China for the MRC’s flood forecasting system. Talks are under way to expand this data sharing agreement to include dry season levels. The Lancang, the Chinese stretch of the Mekong, contributes approximately 16% of the flow of the Mekong River. That’s enough to have strategic influence, but a little short of a “strategic grip”.

Now let’s have a look at conflict over water. My source is the Oregon State University Tranboundary Freshwater Dispute Database, part of the Basins At Risk project initiated in 2002 by researchers at Oregon State University. The International Water Events Database is a library of documented cases of conflict or cooperation in 144 river basins worldwide. Each event is rated on a scale from -7 (a formal declaration of war) to +7 (voluntary unification into one nation).
Let’s just look at events for the last ten years of data (1998-2008). For the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna, the database has 118 events ranging from +4 to -3. Positive events outnumber negative by two to one. For the Indus River (India-Pakistan), half of the 190 events were positive. Overall, not a bad record ofcooperation over water.
In the Mekong River Basin, there have been 166 water related events recorded since 1952. Mekong countries have an impressive record of cooperative action on water related issues. In all those years, which include the years of the American War, there have been only 15 instances of events rated -1 or -2 (mild/strong verbal expressions at an official level). Eighty events rate from +2 to +6 on the scale. One of the +6 events was the 1995 Agreement on the Cooperation for the Sustainable Development of the Mekong River Basin, which resulted in the creation of the Mekong River Commission. Remember this is one of the regions where China is “appropriating waters” and exercising a “strategic grip”.
In light of the record, is the good professor scaremongering? Is he following the old newspaper adage, “if it bleeds it leads”? Or is he just using the hydro power issue as a platform to take shots at India’s only rival for regional influence? My guess is the latter. The hydro power debate in the Mekong has enough polemic already thank you. Given the record, regional ties are far from threatened and in the Mekong at least water wars over dams are an unlikely future.

Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database is getting good press!

A recent blog post about the Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database, or TFDD as it is referred to by users, has been featured on the CGIAR website. The post highlights the evidence of international cooperation over water rather than international conflict over water that Aaron Wolf's ongoing research demonstrates. CGIAR is an international group based in Washington, DC that covers global issues of food, water, and land issues.
The post makes a point of why this story of cooperation should be retold, rather than the typical conflict limited view narrative...and how the website is useful as a database. Please give a look!


Water is a source of cooperation not conflict

“If it bleeds it leads” goes an old newspaper adage. Maybe that explains the perennial popularity of “water wars” in articles written by journalists, academics and national security wonks. More specifically it’s “the prospect” of conflict these pundits seem to find so appealing. Prospects because there have, in fact, been very few actual armed conflicts over water. A couple of border skirmishes between China and the USSR in 1969 (the Cold War era); rival ethnic groups in Ethiopia and Somalia fighting over watering holes for livestock (2002); Israel clashing with Jordan and Palestine (forever).
Even in these cases it’s difficult to separate water from the Gordian knot of issues that keeps these groups locked in conflict. Examining the record, water seems to be more often used as a weapon of war or is a casualty of war or an excuse rather than the actual cause of conflict. What’s far more evident is transboundary cooperation over water.
OSU Program in Water Conflict Management and Transformation
The Water Events database, where I found these examples, is just one of many resources you will find at the Oregon State University (OSU) website for their Program in Water Conflict Management and Transformation. Other resources include an International Freshwater Treaties Database (summaries and full text of more than 400 international, freshwater-related agreements from 1820 to 2007); an International River Basins Register (lists the world’s international river basins); U.S. Interstate Freshwater Compacts Water Conflict and Cooperation Bibliography; and my personal favorite, the International Water Event Database.
The search interfaces are simple and easy to use if somewhat limited, but you can download a lot of the data as Excel spreadsheets if you want to do your own analysis. Among several research projects is Basins At Risk, that identifies indicators of geopolitical water resources conflict and specific international basins at risk for future tensions, and monitors the likelihood of domestic and international disputes. The site promises that “studies of hydropolitical vulnerability for each continent are forthcoming”.
The site has some shortcomings. Most importantly it is out of date with the most recent entries being for 2008. There is little data on China, which is fast becoming a hydropower hotspot within its own borders and in river basins in neighboring countries. My anti-spam software kept throwing up warnings of malicious URLs, which is both annoying and distracting. It’s worth fixing.
The Water Events database is important because it refutes the mindset of conflict. The pundits who wring their hands and warn us about the prospects of conflict or even wars over water need to be mindful of the power of the self-fulfilling prophecy. The research carried out under OSU Basins At Risk project indicates that:
“…international relations over freshwater resources are overwhelmingly cooperative and cover a wide range of issue areas, including water quantity, quality, joint management, and hydropower. Conflictive  relations tend to center on quantity and infrastructure concerns. No single indicator  explained conflict/cooperation over water, including climate, water stress, government  type, and dependence on freshwater resources for agriculture or energy. Even those indicators that showed a significant correlation with water conflict, such as high population density, low per capita GDP, and overall unfriendly international relations, explained only a small percentage of the variability in the data. Overall, the most promising sets of indicators for water conflict were those associated with rapid or extreme changes in the institutional or physical systems within a basin (e.g., internationalization of a basin, large dams) and the key role of institutional mechanisms, such as international freshwater treaties, in mitigating such conflict.[1]
The OSU program and its associated datasets clearly show that water has been and can continue to be platform for cooperation. International Water Cooperation is the theme of this year’s United Nations World Water Day. What better occasion to revitalize the OSU program and update the valuable data and research they have done to date.
What you can do
1. Make it your personal World Water Day activity to visit the site and get yourself a fresh perspective on the role of water in international cooperation.
2. Post a comment to tell us about your ideas, approaches, methods and examples of conflict resolution regarding transboundary water issues. “Transboundary” includes boundaries across states within a country.
3.  Write to Aaron Wolf at the OSU Program in Water Conflict Management and Transformation and help add to the their datasets and collection of research and case studies. wolfa@geo.oregonstate.edu
Let’s make this UN World  Water Day the day we started focusing on cooperation and debunking the myth of conflict

[1] Wolf, A. T., Yoffe, S. B., & Giordano, M. (2003). International waters: Identifying basins at risk. Water policy5(1), 29-60.


About the Author:
Terry Clayton is a writer, communications consultant and long-term resident of the Mekong Basin. You can read more of Terry’s posts on his website and Should there be a door?

Saudi General has strong opinion about the Ethiopian dam...

I realize that this is a month behind, but here is an article about some Saudi General slamming Ethiopia for building the Grand Renaissance Dam. The article was published in the Sudan Tribune in February. They claim it is a major calculated threat to downstream Sudan and Egypt. Where did this come from???? In the photo he looks like he means business.



A Saudi general goes berserk against The Ethiopian Grand Renaissance dam

Tigrai Online Feb. 27, 2013
Saudi deputy defense minister Khalid Bin Sultan attacks Ethiopia
Saudi deputy defense minister Khalid Bin Sultan goes berserk against The Grand Renaissance dam.
KHARTOUM) – A senior Saudi Arabian official unleashed a barrage of attack against Ethiopia saying that the Horn of Africa nation is posing a threat to the Nile water rights of Egypt and Sudan.
"The [Grand] Renaissance dam has its capacity of flood waters reaching more than 70 billion cubic meters of water, and is located at an altitude of 700 meters and if it collapsed then Khartoum will drown completely and the impact will even reach the Aswan Dam," the Saudi deputy defense minister Khalid Bin Sultan said at the meetings of the Arab Water Council in Cairo.
"Egypt is the most affected party from the Ethiopian Renaissance dam because they have no alternative water source compared to other Nile Basin countries and the establishment of the dam 12 kilometers from the Sudanese border is for political plotting rather than for economic gain and constitutes a threat to Egyptian and Sudanese national security "the Saudi official said.

Tigrai Online view

We are not sure this unprovoked attack by the Saudi General is a calculated policy move by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or a moronic military general sticking his anprofessional neck to a diplomatic hot water , either way Ethiopia needs to take a stern action immediately against this speech.
At the end his speech would not have any effect what so ever on building the Grand Renaissance Dam, but it would be very advisable for the Ethiopian government to refute it before it adds any negative light towards the great project on the Egyptian and Sudanese public opinion.
Does this Einstein general know that it is only Ethiopia and only Ethiopia that would decide what to do with its natural resources? Even if there is any shortage of water in Egypt, he can’t do squat to change it. We know Saudi Arabia couldn’t spare a drop of water for Egypt even if the whole population is dying from thirst because they don’t have any, so why making the unpractical bluff fake speech? Is it designed to take away the ever increasing public tension in the Kingdom? Or is it to mask some other internal political problem? We think the general and his country are better off sticking to their own business instead of messing around issues that has nothing to do with them.
Source Sudan Tribune:
http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article45666

26 March 2013

Xayaburi Dam Fish Passage

There was an article printed in the Vientiane Times about the meeting I participated in at the Xayaburi dam site last week. The article can be viewed here and I have posted it below.

The article is attempting to describe the design drawings we were shown, and without the visuals, it is hard to picture what exactly the information means. These designs will be available online soon according to the project management. From the presentation it was quite clear that the engineering design is professional and has been modified to include both fish ladders and sediment gates at the base of the dam.

The fish ladder has both an upstream and downstream navigation passage - the black/red arrows referred to in the article. This portion was designed by a European firm claiming the best currently available technology for fish passage.

I do not remember this comment about a 2 meter long fish. In fact, I remember instead a statement that with the sonar monitoring capacity, they would not miss a giant catfish - a species said to be in excess of 2 meters.


Fish passage not a problem, dam builders say
The Xayaboury dam developers have unveiled technical drawings relating to the fish passage tunnels that will be incorporated into the dam, the first on the Mekong mainstream, which is scheduled for completion in 2019.
Fish will be able to swim freely up or downstream through the Xayaboury dam, they say, as a sophisticated series of tunnels and passages has been incorporated into the design.
A group of Vietnamese reporters visited the construction site last week, and one of the things they were keenly interested in was the fish passage arrangements, along with the sediment flushing facilities.
Lead Engineer of the Xayaboury Hydro Electric Power Project, Mr Prat Nantasen, explained the basic principles of the tunnels using a diagram.
The red arrows represent the downstream migration tunnels, while the black arrows represent the upstream ones. It is anticipated that all fish species will be able to pass through the tunnels, each of which is three metres wide and six metres high.
The upstream tunnel will wind its way gradually up to the height of the dam wall, to ensure that the current is not too strong for the fish to pass, while the downstream tunnel will divert fish to the side of the dam in order to avoid the turbines.
The project hired fish specialists AF Colenco and Teraplant to study fish migration in the river and produce the best system to allow fish to pass up and downstream of the dam.
The Vietnamese reporters were happy with the information they received on both fish passage and sediment flows.
Mr Prat said they had recently observed a large fish in their camera trap near the dam. The fish was over two metres long, but they did not know what species it was.
Since specialists have been surveying fish populations in the area, they haven't seen any giant catfish near the dam. Local fishermen say they haven't caught one for many years.
The project developers plan to breed giant catfish in the Mekong near the dam. This is currently being done successfully on a commercial basis in Thailand, and the developers are seeking advice from those involved in the scheme.
The Vietnamese reporters visited the dam construction site before touring the newly built resettlement community at Na Tor Yai village just outside the provincial capital.
The dam is scheduled for completion in 2019, with the bulk of the electricity to be sold to Thailand. The project is 10 percent complete following the groundbreaking ceremony held in November last year.
By Khonesavanh Latsaphao (Latest Update March 26, 2013)

Recent site visit of Xayabori Dam

Last week I was invited to visit the Xayabori Dam Project in Sayabouri Province of Laos. I joined two van-loads of reporters from Laos and Vietnam to receive a tour of the dam site, relocated village, and meet with the governor of the province to better understand the current economic and social situation in the region.

There were resulting articles from the professional press who visited the site that provide information on what we learned. One is from the Global Times and the other from the local newspaper Vientiane Times, though I couldn't find the online version - but found it republished on someone's blog, so I have posted it below. I did find a brief article about the relocated villages and the ferry boat we used to cross the Mekong, a system that a bridge currently under construction will render unnecessary.

Currently, there are people in Sayabouri Province who live on close to $1 per day. In accordance with the global war on poverty, the Lao Government is seeking to engage in development projects that would generate income, opportunities, and new infrastructure - like the building of new villages for rural communities with access to markets on new roads, with onsight schools and clinics - for the people of Laos.




Xayaburi dam presents no risks to environment, Lao government
Xinhua | 2013-3-19 17:51:42
By Agencies

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The Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs invited Xinhua and other foreign media to visit the construction site of the controversial Xayaburi dam being built on the Mekong River, which they claim will be overall positive for the environment and people who share the Mekong.

The tour on Friday and Saturday came in conjunction with the release of a report, as well as interviews with senior officials in the department and at the Xayaburi Power Company who are constructing the dam. Construction is being carried out at the site 24 hours a day, and will be able to continue all year long, despite changing river levels.

Construction of the dam started late last year and is now 10 percent complete, but it has been the source of concern for various environmental groups, NGOs, and governments. These groups have argued against the construction of the dam because of a perceived potential for a negative impact on the migratory paths for the Mekong's many fish species and the impacts on sediment flows down the river which provide fertile soil for agriculture along the river.

The Lao government and the Xayaburi Power Company argued that the environmental concerns raised by various group and neighboring countries will be mitigated via several technological innovations.

In the report titled Xayaburi Run-of-River Hydroelectric Power Project, the claim is made that the potential impact on sediment flows will be mitigated by the use of a low barrage and a design and operational pattern allowing sediment flow through the pondage.

The report argues that a fish-pass system will be included in the dam that will permit "passage in up and downstream directions for all breeds of river fish. Its width is large enough to accommodate passage also of big fish. The fish will be attracted by the flows created by the system; they will follow them and swim in upstream direction."

Others have argued that the impact of the dam on the Mekong has not been sufficiently studied, especially given limited knowledge of the way various species of fish may interact with a fish-pass system.

Deputy Managing Director of Xayaburi Power Rewat Suwanakitti told Xinhua on Saturday that the governments of Cambodia and Vietnam now supported the construction of the dam, "...we redesigned the spillway, fish passage system, and that nearly one hundred percent of sediment can pass through the dam. Now both governments (of Cambodia and Vietnam) understand clearly and support our project."

The Xayaburi Power Company is a subsidiary of the Thai company Ch. Karnchang Public Company who are leading contractors on the Xayaburi site.

BIG RIVER, BIG OPPORTUNITIES

In the Mekong, which is the tenth longest waterway with the second highest biodiversity in the world, there are around 229 species that live upstream of the Xayaburi site, 70 of which are migratory. The river passes through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Laos, one of Southeast Asia's least developed nations, is making a major push into the hydropower industry with 23 dams currently in operation generating around 3,000 MW of electricity. A further 33 dams are in the construction or at the planning stage across the country with an expected completion before 2018, and an expected output of around 6,000 MW. Of these proposed dams, a further four are planning on the Mekong.

Chief of the Energy Business Division of the Ministry of Energy and Mines Somphith Keovichith identified the benefits for the country in building the dam in an exclusive interview with Xinhua, "After the dam, it will be more convenient to deliver things by ship as we can take over 500 metric tons of cargo from the north to the south of the country."

Keovichith said the Lao government would get a direct return from the dam of 20 percent of profits via royalties and taxes, as well as $135 million per year on concession for 29 years. In total, it will be almost $4,000 million. After 29 years the site will revert to full ownership by the Lao government.

Suwanakitti told Xinhua that the budget for the project was, "$3, 500 million, 30 percent of which was provided by the developer and 70 percent borrowed from a bank in Thailand." Thai electricity utilities company, EGAT, has agreed to purchase 95 percent of the electricity generated at the dam.

Keovichith said that the local area may also benefit from an increasing number of tourists to the site, as people may be interested in seeing the dam, like those visiting the Three Gorges Dam in China. The construction will also employ over 10,000 people, some of whom will come from areas around the dam.

Keovichith said he expected the construction to be completed by 2019, when a great deal of engineering expertise would have been gained for future projects.

The employees on the dam are primarily Lao, according to Suwanakitti. "When we have no Lao people for a position we order from Thailand. But this project is very big, not just Lao or Thai. We have people from many countries."

As for the people who have been moved from the area as their traditional homes would be flooded after the dam was finished, Keovichith said, they are being provided with better access to resources such as transport, power, education, and healthcare.

News and update :
22 03 2013 : :
Dam builders upgrade roads for relocated villagers

[2013-03-22] Vientiane Times The Xayaboury Hydroelectric Power Project has approved the continuing development of infrastructure to meet the needs of people in the newly built village of Na Tor Yai, in Xayaboury province.
Some 75 families moved to the village to allow for the construction of the Xayaboury dam, the first run-of-river dam to be built on the lower Mekong.
The project developers say they will seal the road that leads to the provincial capital and various other roads in the area and will build a bridge across the Houng River.
The main infrastructure in the new village is already in place, including houses, roads, water, electricity, telephone network and a school. These were built when people began relocating to the village in January last year.
Uncle Thidsatan Soukeo told reporters who visited the area on Wednesday that he is one of 350 people who recently moved 30km from their former home in Huysouy village on the banks of the Mekong River. Their new home is closer to the provincial capital.
“We hope the project developers will improve the dirt roads in the new village and seal them with asphalt, and build a new bridge across the Houng River,” he said.
Na Tor Yai village is about six kilometres from the provincial capital, but the asphalt road extends for only three kilometres. The villagers are hoping the project developers will lay more asphalt to reduce the amount of dust and facilitate transport.
They also want a bridge across the Houng River because it will reduce the distance they have to travel to nearby markets by more than half.
The villagers say they need only these two things, and then won't ask for anything else because they have already been given a lot since they relocated.
Xayaboury district Governor Ms Bounphack Inthapanya said the project developers paid out compensation of 200 to 300 million kip for the houses and land abandoned by the residents of Huysouy village. The dam will have a generating capacity of 1,285MW, with most of the electricity to be sold to Thailand. It is slated for completion in 2019, but the government wants to accelerate the project and is aiming for a completion date sometime in 2018.
The project is already about 10 percent complete after a groundbreaking ceremony took place in November last year.
*Relocated villagers to get similar payouts from Xayaboury dam builders*

Vientiane Times, 243March 2013

Families in 16 villages of Xayaboury and Luang Prabang provinces who live along the Mekong River and must move to make way for the Xayaboury dam are to receive similar compensation payments.
The 667 families will be paid the same amount as the residents of Huayxouy village in Xayaboury province and Pakneun village in Luang Prabang province after they too had to leave their homes to make way for the massive hydropower plant.
This village has moved from the banks of the Mekong to higher ground.
These families received compensation of 200 to 300 million kip from the project developers for the houses and land they had to abandon.
The people of Huayxouy village moved to a newly built village named Na Tor Yai, where the company building the dam provided each family with a two-storey house and a 20 x 30 square metre plot of land. Fishponds were dug and the villagers supplied with pigs, poultry, frogs and fish.
The project developers also built roads and a school and installed water, electricity and telephone lines. They will pay electricity and water bills plus a monthly allowance of 120,000 kip person for a period of one year. If requested, the payments will be extended for another two years.
Xayaboury district Governor Ms Bounphak told Vientiane Times that the residents of Huayxouy and Pakneun villages were moved first because these villages were located on the construction site itself.
The occupants of Pakneun village moved to higher ground in Huayhip village.
The project developers said only Huayxouy village has been relocated to a completely new place, which is closer to the provincial capital. The people of the other villages will move to a higher elevation, but will continue to live along the Mekong River.
In the past, these communities frequently had to make last minute preparations to move their belongings to higher ground when the Mekong rose due to heavy rains upstream.
The people of the 14 villages say they approve of the move to higher ground, as they will no longer suffer from fl ooding.
The project's Lead Engineer, Mr Prat Nantasen, said that in the middle of this year two more villages - Khoknahi and Huaydeua - will be moved to higher ground alongside the Mekong.
By 2014, all of the villages that must be rel ocated will have moved to higher ground. Construction of the dam is scheduled for completion in 2019. The project is already about 10 percent complete following the groundbreaking ceremony last November.

25 March 2013

Egypt looks to desalinization for ease of water scarcity

Recent article about water scarcity in Egypt. Solutions are suggested to modify and treat water largely through desalinization. Though water treatment is important for public health, preserving available water is also important. The evaporation rate out of Lake Nasser where 2 years of Nile River freshwater is stored is more than 85%. This should be something the Egyptian government should focus efforts on as well. Perhaps storing the water behind Grand Renaissance Dam in the Ethiopian highlands, if coordinated between the governments, could be part of an answer to dealing with the high water loss through evaporation from Lake Nasser. This would in turn increase water availability per person in Egypt.


PPP Panel: Egypt set to fall further into water poverty

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Only 29% of villages have access to sanitation
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EGYPT-ENVIRONMENT-WATER-NILE-WOMEN
The water available per person in Egypt is set to fall to half the amount estimated to represent the water poverty level(AFP Photo)
The water available per person in Egypt is set to fall to half the amount estimated to represent the water poverty level, according to panelists at the 2nd Private-Public Partnerships Investment Summit held in Cairo on Monday.
“The global water poverty line is estimated as 1,000 cubic metres per person while in Egypt it is currently 700 cubic metres,” said Engineer El-Sayed Naser Arafat, Chairman of Holding Company of Water and Waste Water (HCWW). “We expect this to fall to 500cubic metres per person.”
The comments came during a panel discussion on the waste water and water treatment sector during the conference’s second day.
The panelists said that water supply in Egypt faced several challenges; the Egyptian government identifies water as one of the priority sectors which needs new approaches of financing and management for supply and sanitation projects.
“The existing water supply infrastructure either does not exist in some areas or, where it does, it needs drastic development,” said Dr Salah Bayoumi, head of projects for the HCWW. “Water supply payments in Egypt are estimated at EGP 0.23 per cubic metre.”
“This the first time that Egypt has had a specialised ministry for water and wastewater utilities,” he continued.
The panelists pointed to three sectors the Ministry is currently seeking to implement PPP projects for the re-use of wastewater, seawater desalination and sanitation.
They also affirmed the importance of desalination, in particular: “The upcoming PPP projects for desalination seek to develop desalination plants in four governorates,” Arafat said. “The Ministry has a five-year plan starting in 2012″.
In 2012, the Red Sea governorate produced 17,600 cubic metres per day of desalinated water, This is estimated to rise to 191,370 cubic metres per day in 2017, after cooperation with private sector companies.
Rises in desalination are also expected across other regions.
The Matrouh governorate produced 6000 cubic metres per day in 2012, estimated to rise to 72,000 cubic metres per day in 2017.
North Sinai produced 1,750 metres per day in 2012, estimated to rise to 21,750 cubic metres per day in 2017
South Sinai produced 42,000 cubic metres per day in 2012, estimated to rise to 73,000 cubic metres per day in 2017.
“The desalination field needs corporation on all levels, as it’s an extremely important sector in Egypt,” said Bayoumi. “The desalination sector witnessed huge improvements during the last few years, and its low cost profile makes it very attractive for investment.”
Other sectors such as agriculture can support or benefit from desalination, he also said, adding that Nile River water is “not economically effective and we have to find other sources to supply water to as many regions as we can”.
Capital needed to finance PPP desalination projects in the four provinces in 2012 started with EGP 1 bn. In 2017 the government will need a further EGP 3bn, which Arafat revealed would have to be supplied by the private sector.
“In 2022 we will hope to get EGP 5bn,” he said. “The desalination field is a promising one as we seek to promote PPP projects to attract more investment into this sector.”
Reused wastewater is estimated at 6.5 billion cubic metres per year in 2012, with potable water after treatment accounting for 3.7 billion cubic metres of this total amount, and disposable water without treatment accounting for 2.8 billion cubic metres.
Regarding re-use of rural sanitation, the panelists mentioned that Egypt’s rural areas currently account for half of the Egyptian population, with as 45 million people.
The panelists said that Egypt has 4,673 villages, but only 1,354 of these currently possess sanitation facilities. This represents 29% of total villages in the country and includes 480 villages provided with water treatment stations, which represent 19% of villages, and 874 villages without water treatment stations representing 10%.
Of those 3,319 villages without sanitation, only 1,023 have sanitation services currently under construction, while there are 2,296 village without “anything at all” in terms of sanitation prospects, representing 49% of this total.
Bayoumi added: “This is an incredibly important sector. A total of 45 million people lives in this country are affected by it, and it requires between EGP 75bn to EGP 85bn to implement adequate sanitation infrastructure projects over a period of ten to 15 years.”

06 March 2013

Local news article about the Xayaburi dam


Vientiane Times, 5 March 2013

The Xayaboury dam, the first run-of-river hydropower project to be built in the lower Mekong basin, will play a significant role in driving economic growth in Laos this year, according to a senior economist.

The US$3.5 billion Xayaboury dam is under construction on the Mekong River.
“The Xayaboury dam is a mega investment project, so it will be one of the drivers of economic growth this year,” Director General of the Lao National Economic Research Institute, Dr Liber Leebouapao, said yesterday.
Construction of the US$3.5 billion dam officially began in November last year and is expected to become operational in 2019.
Dr Liber said the massive project would create jobs and generate income for Lao people, explaining that small and medium sized enterprises such as food suppliers would see a major boost by providing food for project workers.
According to a report from the Ministry of Energy and Mines, the government expects to earn US$3.9 billion from the Xayaboury dam throughout the 29 year concession period, including US$1.897 billion in royalties and US$637 million in taxes.
The government has committed to use the income to fund poverty reduction programmes and infrastructure development, hoping to graduate from the UN's list of least developed countries by 2020.
Dr Liber said another mega investment project that would power economic growth was the construction of special economic zones in Vientiane. Projects of this scale would help to ensure that economic growth would reach the target of 8.3 percent this year.
One of the major concerns the government must address to secure sustainable growth over the next several years was pulling in more foreign investment in the non resource sector, he added.
“The value of foreign direct investment has fallen since the government announced the suspension of land concessions for rubber and mining projects until 2015,” he said, adding that Laos needs more investment in non resource projects to secure sustainable economic growth.
Another area of concern is that urgent measures are required to curb rising prices, as the rising cost of living would place Laos at a disadvantage when producing goods for export.
“The average inflation rate is now about 6 to 7 percent,” Dr Liber said. The government also needs to control rapidly rising land values, otherwise investment in Laos will be unattractive compared to other countries in the region.
According to a real estate agent, the price of land in Vientiane has risen by 10 to 15 percent, while in some prime locations it has increased by more than 50 percent.