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Egypt: PM says water is 'life and death' issue

An aerial view shows the River Nile before sunset in the Helwan suburb south of the Egyptian capital Cairo on 20 June 2020. [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]
An aerial view shows the River Nile before sunset in the Helwan suburb south of the Egyptian capital Cairo on 20 June 2020. [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]

Egypt's Prime Minister stressed in a speech about the impact of human development on the River Nile on Monday that water is an issue of life and death. Mostafa Madbouly made his comment during the opening ceremony of Cairo Water Week 2020 when he spoke of the importance of reaching a binding agreement over the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in order to preserve common interests.

The prime minister pointed out that Cairo is keen to continue negotiations with Sudan and Ethiopia on the issue of the dam. Unilateral decisions that would negatively affect stability in the region should not be taken, he insisted.

Water is one of the most important pillars of Egyptian national security, noted Madbouly. Comprehensive sustainable development plans in all fields are linked to the state's ability to provide the necessary water resources.

He criticised the way that upstream countries deal with those downstream who share the basins of the same major rivers.

"Now, there are many upstream countries trying to extend their hegemony over the water basins of many rivers in the Arab world," he explained. "This is in order to control water flows and harm the interests of downstream countries and form a political geography of river basins through the national interests of upstream countries that are not dependent on those downstream."

Cairo Water Week is a prelude for the convention of the Global Water Forum to be held in Dakar in 2021. The last time it was held was in 1997 in Morocco.

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