Saturday,21 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1150, 29 May - 5 June 2013
Saturday,21 October, 2017
Issue 1150, 29 May - 5 June 2013

Ahram Weekly

Social media

Dark days

“They cut the water and we only have electricity a few hours. How will we survive in this mess?” asked Mahmoud Ali on his Facebook profile. The electricity blackouts and frequent water shortages during the day in all of Egypt’s cities was the main topic debated by Egyptians on social networks.

A mix between anger and fear over water and electricity is what you read from the Egyptian comments on Facebook and Twitter.

Manal Al-Halawani said that during Mubarak the access of poor people to social and basic services improved but since President Mohamed Morsi took office there was a clear decline in the access of these services for all Egyptians not only vulnerable groups.

“No electricity for work, no water to drink, no Nile River to take a walk with my wife. Can Morsi tell me what is left in Egypt?” Hisham Mustafa asked.

Mustafa said that the Muslim Brotherhood have this chaos in their first year in power. “I wonder what would happen after five years.”

Houssini Abdel-Ghaffar believes that Morsi has inherited all these problems from ousted president Mubarak who sabotaged the country over his 30-year-rule.

“Did the people forget that all these problems of electricity and water were around during Mubarak’s rule? Why do we blame the Muslim Brotherhood for everything?” Abdel-Ghaffar wondered.

Mustafa Saleh said he believed it was time for the Muslim Brotherhood and opposition to stop fighting over power, as they are both losing public support.

“They must do something that stops the daily suffering of the Egyptians. It is really time to stop fighting.”

 

Ruling a thirsty Egypt not the victory Islamists wanted

Nervana Mahmoud discusses in her blog the Nile Basin crisis in the light of the recent visit by President Mohamed Morsi to Ethiopia, here is what she wrote: 

The visit by President Mohamed Morsi to Ethiopia has finally shifted the focus to the much-neglected topic of water resources in Egypt. Although many Egyptians have started to come to terms with the prospect that a water shortage could become a reality in the near future, the extent of the problem, and the impact of African projects, such as Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam, has yet to sink in.

The issue is not just shortage but water poverty. Each Egyptian citizen’s quota of water has fallen to 730 cubic litres per annum, far below the standard global quota of 1,000 cubic litres.

Although 95 per cent of Egypt’s water supply comes from the River Nile, Egyptian abuse of the river on a daily basis is astounding. For example, all sorts of garbage is dumped into the river, and Egyptians have a breathtaking lack of respect to their eternal river.

Despite this poverty, water waste is a national lifestyle. Most Egyptians take water for granted. Household and domestic leakage is very common, with little effort put into repair. In fact, leakage within public facilities is even worse.

Previous Egyptian governments have consistently failed to invest in water conservation projects or in any reliable rationalisation programme for Nile water.

The current government seems to have conflicting priorities. For example, there is a desire to expand agricultural land that directly conflicts with water rationing programmes. This conflict will remain unless a complete strategy is formulated, but thus far, none has been articulated.

The current relationship between Egypt and its African neighbours and in the past was not built in a strategic way. Each subsequent Egyptian government failed to invest in building solid strategic alliances with countries of the Nile Basin. Ironically, Egypt backed a butcher like Bashir, but not South Sudan or Ethiopia. This is precisely why the cold reception President Morsi received; welcomed by the mining minister instead of the president at the airport, and the turning of the microphone off during his speech in Addis Ababa should not come as any surprise.

There are reports that Israel is encouraging Ethiopia to build the Renaissance Dam. Even if this is true, does it really matter? This is a geopolitical framework that strengthens Ethiopia’s position. A military solution is not an option. It would be counter-productive and would only drag the region into a deeper conflict.

It will take a lot more than just a visit to Ethiopia to fix this crisis. There are still no details about Morsi’s agreement with the Ethiopian government, but any deal will not be enough to solve a very complex problem. Water poverty is a national security issue that Egypt’s Morsi cannot afford to ignore. Surely, ruling a thirsty, hungry Egypt is not the victory that Islamists aspired to achieve.

 

Tweets

“Egypt’s presidency denies that the new NGO law will be worse than Mubarak’s but sadly its draft speaks otherwise.” @Kenneth Roth

“The worst job you can have now in Egypt is to be an electricity bill collector.” @Nervana Mahmoud

“The Supreme [Constitutional] Court rejected the Brotherhood’s election law. Egypt will not see stability while Morsi’s government insists on drafting unconstitutional laws.” @Ahmad Sarhan

“The greatness of the people of Egypt is that they’re in the process of laughing Morsi and the Brotherhood out of office.” @Mona Eltahawy

“I am not sure the Muslim Brotherhood is losing anything. They are likely to do well in the next election. That is the only poll that counts.” @Salama Moussa

“I think Essam Al-Erian has the perfect name. He is a naked man, with naked beliefs.” @Habeeba Khattab

 

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