Past and future trends of Egypt’s water consumption and its sources

Title Past and future trends of Egypt’s water consumption and its sources
Publication Type Journal Article
Year of Publication 2021
Authors Nikiel C. A. & Eltahir, E. A. B.
Journal Nature Communications
Date Published 2021

For millennia the Nile supplied Egypt with more water than needed. As the population grew
and the economy expanded, demand on water increased accordingly. Here, we present a
comprehensive analysis to reconstruct how total demand on water outstripped supply of the
Nile water in the late 1970s, starting from a surplus of about 20 km3 per year in the 1960s
leading to a deficit of about 40 km3 per year by the late 2010s. The gap is satisfied by import
of virtual water. The role of economic growth in driving per capita demand on water is
quantified based on detailed analysis of water use by agriculture and other sectors. We
develop and test an empirical model of water demand in Egypt that relates demand on water
to growth rates in the economy and population. Looking forward, we project that within this
decade of the 2020 s, under nominal scenarios of population and economic growth, Egypt is
likely to import more virtual water than the water supplied by the Nile, bringing into question
the historical characterization of Egypt as “ the gift of the Nile ”.

DOI 10.1038/s41467-021-24747-9
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