Egypt-Dutch Advisory Panel
The Egyptian–Dutch Advisory Panel for Water Management and Drainage (APP) has a unique perspective on the Egyptian–Dutch partnership. This partnership has contributed to many viable solutions to the myriad water problems that Egypt has faced over the last quarter century. There are many important lessons learned which are drawn from such long – term cooperation and could be used as the corner stone for any future cooperation on various subjects such as integrated water resources management, environmental and social impacts of Water Management projects, management development in different new areas and at different levels. The Panel can serve as a model for other countries considering partnerships to tackle this important issue.
The APP was established in 1976, the oldest and first-known project under the Egyptian–Dutch Bilateral Cooperation Program. The construction of Aswan High Dam necessitated large scale drainage schemes in the Nile Valley and Delta. The experience of Dutch experts in land drainage is well-known around the world and in actual fact Egypt has been benefiting from this experience through the APP, which has been supported from the very early beginning by a number of projects, aiming at developing new technologies geared to the Egyptian conditions.
The Panel was initially set up for land drainage in order to advise the Egyptian Public Authority for Drainage Projects (EPADP) and Drainage Research Institute (DRI) of the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation of Egypt (MWRI) on some related technical issues. In this manner, the Panel has been gradually involved in formulating and supervising a number of projects, thereby evolving into an umbrella-organization that encompassed all Egyptian-Dutch activities in the drainage sector.
In the last three decades, dramatic changes with respect to technical and policy issues have taken place. For that reason, the Panel role has become mostly directed towards advising the MWRI on water management policy issues and coordinating between the ongoing Dutch Projects. In this context, APP has changed its designation to "Advisory Panel Project on Water Management ".
Recently, the Netherlands Government policy has taken steps to restructure the bilateral development program within a number of countries and Egypt is included in the list of partner countries. The new bilateral program is mainly focusing on one sector: water environment. This of course will add another dimension and scope to the panel activities.
APP has been playing an active role as an initiator and facilitator in support of exchange of knowledge and experience between Egyptian and Dutch professionals and researchers. In this regard, 38 Panel meetings had been organized. APP at large contributed to strengthening cooperation among projects, identifying priorities for sectors and projects, tackling institutional issues to attain better environment for outcomes realization, and identifying new projects to support already ongoing projects. In these regards, APP provided valuable advices and directions on policy issues and strategies, efficiency of irrigation and drainage systems, economic value of water, water service charges, public awareness, water quality policy and management, land drainage in new lands, water resources planning, institutional reform, gender issues and many others. It also gained from the contribution of various Egyptian line ministries and institutions as stakeholders in the water sector. The MWRI recognizes many success factors of APP, but the major factor was attaining a common understanding and mutual trust between Egyptian and Dutch sides.
Among lessons learned throughout the age of APP are :
There are many important lessons learned which are drawn from such long–term cooperation, and could be used as the corner stone for any future cooperation on subjects such as integrated water resources management, environmental and social impacts of water management projects, and capacity development in new areas and at different managerial levels.
Not only Egyptian staff gained from being involved in APP activities, but also Dutch experts in view of the fact that many of them have already applied the expertise gained in Egypt in other countries such as Pakistan and India. The Dutch private sector has also benefited from APP activities at professional and commercial levels. For instance, some Dutch consultancy firms executed pilot projects under the umbrella of APP and employed the experience gained in these projects in other countries, for example, integrating controlled drainage in rice fields in advisory work in South Korea, Turkey and Pakistan. The Dutch drainage machine manufactures have been able to sell a sizeable number of equipment in Egypt as well as in other countries with similar conditions.
There are many important products of APP to be shared with other professionals and researchers in other countries with comparable physical, economic, and sociopolitical environments. In brief, APP introduced to Egypt's irrigated agriculture improved procedures and cheaper drainage technologies, effective tools for water resources planning, techniques for reusing drainage water, weed control and channel maintenance at large, establishment of water boards, pollution control and water quality, private public partnerships ….etc.