Water Management Reform Programme

Project description

Title: Water Management Reform Programme
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Egypt
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation (MALR)
Overall term: 2015 to 2019

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Due to its growing population and limited water resources, Egypt faces a great scarcity of water. Egyptians have roughly 600 cubic metres of water available per capita per year, compared to 2,300 cubic metres in Germany. The escalating demand from private consumers and industry, as well as from agriculture, is increasing the pressure on farmers to use water more efficiently. Presently, agriculture accounts for about 75 per cent of Egypt’s annual water consumption.


The Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation (MALR) as well as farmers and farmer organisations have optimised their processes for integrated water resources management (IWRM) in irrigated agriculture, within their areas of responsibility.

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The project team, consisting of GIZ and various units from the agriculture ministry, are supporting farmers and government authorities in the Nile Delta in applying optimised processes for integrated water resources management in the field of irrigation. These activities are focused on the two governorates of Kafr el Sheikh and Beheira.

The project has previously developed innovative processes for integrated water resources management. It is providing training for institutions responsible for irrigated agriculture, and optimised their internal processes. Currently engaged in scaling up these measures, the project coaches trained multiplicators supporting farmers and their organisations to introduce efficient and effective agricultural water use on their fields. 


To guarantee the operation and maintenance (O&M) of the new irrigation infrastructure in the long term, the project also trained and equipped pump house operators, assistants and WUO board members of 500 improved pump houses with simple tools for daily operations and maintenance. Farmers were introduced to developing annual O&M work plans, 100 young farmers and technicians from district-level cooperatives are trained on more complex maintenance tasks and can offer their service to farmers facing break downs. WMRP has furthermore so far equipped 3 out of 10 intended maintenance centres at the Agricultural Cooperatives supports cooperates with its partners to establish repair centres.

In order for the ministry and the farmers’ cooperatives to better determine and monitor the farmers’ water needs within their catchment areas, the project team is collecting data on the current actual area of cultivation for each irrigation channel. So far more than 750 cooperatives covering more than 1,000,000 feddan (430,000 hectares) with 700,000 farmers have been trained through newly established geographical information system (GIS) units in Kafr El Sheikh and Beheira governorates. Thus they can now use the up-dated maps as a basis for collecting cropping pattern information of farmers, which are then communicated to the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation for water distribution.

Demand-oriented agricultural extension approaches, such as the farmer field schools (FFS), have proven to be very successful. With the accompanying demonstration fields, the farmers can apply the theory and practice of efficient agricultural and irrigation practices on the ground. Smallholder farmers who have participated in these schools have reported yield increases of up to 25 per cent while using as much as 20 per cent less water for irrigation. So far, 448 farmer field schools have been set up, and around 9.000 smallholder farmers have benefited from their advice. To meet the demand for additional future FFS facilitators, trainers are available within the extension service to pass on their knowledge.

Besides more than 4,000 farmers, 120 extension agents have been trained to disseminate different methods for crop residue management like compost or untraditional fodder. This offers economically viable alternatives to burning crop residues or leaving them alongside the irrigation and drainage canals. Qualified extension agents can now continue trainings beyond the project period. 

Given the key role of farmer organisations in promoting collaborative action for a more effective and efficient water use, more than 50 cooperatives representing around 45,000 farmers, received the technical support: Introducing them to their rights defined in the new law as well as providing them with the necessary organisational and financial management capacities to better serve their members enabled them to start developing business ideas. For up-scaling, board members and managers of cooperatives are prepared as mentors. 

To empower women in irrigated agriculture, more than 300 female farmers were trained to implement pilots of income-generating women initiatives: Responding to local demands and the possibilities for small-size lands, women learned how to design and implement innovative approaches on food production using less water and managing agricultural residuals, like for example: re-using organic waste from agriculture as a substrate for the cultivation of mushrooms or barley for fresh fodder as well as introducing soil-less agricultural systems like hydroponic and aquaponic. 

Through the establishment of digital complaints management centres at district level or the two governorates, farmers can now transparently register and follow-up on their complaints. This in turn enables the Ministry of Agriculture to analyse hotspots and seek rapid solutions by allocating them to the responsible entities.

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Additional information