Maria Diamanti, water sector expert at the European Investment Bank (EIB), told Daily News Egypt that her bank offered preparatory technical assistance from its own funds to get the Kafr El-Sheikh Wastewater Expansion (KSWWE) project started, adding that further technical assistance, to be financed through grants, is foreseen.
“The technical assistance has covered preparation and implementation of the project, transition into the operation phase and support to the Kafr El-Sheikh Water Supply and Sanitation Company in creating capacities among its personnel for managing sanitation projects,” noted Diamanti.
She discussed how the EIB is aiding Kafr El-Sheikh’s water and wastewater sectors in an interview with DNE, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity.
What is the amount of financing that the EIB is providing for the Kafr El-Sheikh project? Can you give me a short description of the project?
The project’s total cost is estimated at €163.5m, of which the EIB will provide €77m, about 47% of the whole cost, while the EU Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF) is providing €15m.
Investments will be used to construct two new wastewater treatment plants, to expand three existing plants, and to lay around 690 km of sewers with the installation of 52 pump stations in the governorate of Kafr El-Sheikh.
The project involves the construction of centralised integrated wastewater sanitation systems comprising force mains and gravity mains, connections to households, pumping stations and wastewater treatment plants for villages with population exceeding 1,400 inhabitants, and decentralised on-site sanitation systems for small villages.
For design and cost optimisation, some small size villages located near integrated wastewater systems will also be connected to centralised infrastructure.
More precisely, the project comprises, in line with the Egyptian National Rural Sanitation Strategy, the construction of two new waste water treatment plants (WWTP): Zaghlool El-Baharey WWTP with a capacity 15,000 cubic metres per day in Motobas district, expected to serve 80,000 citizens, and El-Shahbia WWTP with a capacity of 15,000 cubic metres per day in Borollos district, expected to serve 95,000 citizens.
The project also involves the expansion of three existing WWTPs: Motobas WWTP from 10,000 up to 20,000 cubic metres per day in Motobas district, expected to serve 40,000 citizens; Chabas Al-Malh WWTP from 2,500 up to 5,000 cubic metres per day in Desoq district, expected to serve 15,000 citizens; and El-Borg WWTP from 4,800 up to 10,000 cubic metres per day in Borollos district, expected to serve 19,000 citizens.
Moreover, the project includes laying of 694 km of sewers with the installation of 52 pump stations.
When did works on the project start and when will they end?
Technical assistance and support for preparation of the investment started in 2011/2012. Construction works started in 2017 and the Kafr El-Sheikh project is expected to be operational in 2020.
What is the impact of implementing this project?
The provision of rural sanitation services will contribute to improving health standards for Kafr El-Sheikh residents and the environmental quality of the Nile, Lake Borollos, and the Mediterranean Sea. It is in line with the Egyptian national strategy to adapt with climate change and water scarcity and is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year (tCO2e/year).
The project will improve the quality of life and environment for an estimated rural population of 467,069 residents in the governorate of Kafr El-Sheikh by providing the first centralised wastewater collection networks and wastewater treatment plants. It will improve the operation of the wastewater collection, treatment, and disposal system in the above clusters/districts and extend the capacity of wastewater treatment infrastructure to keep pace with population growth.
Also, it will reduce the pollution of groundwater, water canals, and agricultural drains draining to the River Nile (Rosetta Branch) and Lake Borollos by eliminating discharges of raw sewage and septic tank/cesspit effluents to them.
Furthermore, the project will improve the quality of irrigation water in these rural areas of the KES Governorate and it will improve water quality in River Nile (Rosetta branch) and Lake Borollos, as well as the coastal Mediterranean Sea.
Project will reduce the incidence of waterborne diseases in rural areas of the governorate, provide capacity building for the operational and financial staff of KSWSSC, and strengthen job creation in Kafr El-Sheikh.
The various project components will provide aerobic treatment to wastewater that is currently discharged into drainage channels under mostly anaerobic conditions. Treating the wastewater from 500,000 population equivalent and under certain conditions this aerobic treatment will result in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Finally, the project will create an equivalent of approximately 9,400 full time job opportunities over the period of implementation. In its operational phase, the project is expected to create about 1,400 new jobs of various skills, ranging from unskilled workers to trained engineers.
Borollos Lake used to be a reliable source of fish in Egypt, but its production has declined in the past few years; how far will the project help to increase the fishing activity?
By providing first-time sanitation services to approximately half a million Kafr El-Sheikh residents, the project will contribute to the depollution of Lake Borollos. The volume and quality of fish are expected to increase. Further indirect benefits include improved conditions for tourism and safer agricultural production will be provided.
Demand for wastewater services in Egypt is high, and it will remain so for some time to come. A recent analysis of the Kafr El-Sheikh project anticipates annual growth in demand of 4.8% due to an increase in population and an increase in real wages.
In the meantime, the Egyptian government has been active in the water and wastewater treatment sector and is giving high priority to safe disposal of wastewater in rural areas, where coverage is much lower than in urban areas, and has prepared a national rural sanitation masterplan, which targets comprehensive coverage in all rural governorates by 2037.
In the past few years, the Egyptian government has dedicated increased attention and resources to this sector. The European Investment Bank is working together with the Egyptian government as well as the European Commission and other international financiers to finance a long list of water and wastewater projects in the country.
More specifically, the governorate of Kafr El-Sheikh comes at the top of the planned wastewater investments by the Egyptian Holding Company for Water and Wastewater (HCWW) in the Mediterranean coastal area.
Kafr El-Sheikh was identified by the European Commission Horizon 2020 initiative as a hotspot polluting the Mediterranean Sea. Moreover, it is consistent with the objectives of the European Investment Bank to improve socioeconomic infrastructure and to adapt with climate change.
Do you have estimates of the pollution caused by Mediterranean countries, including Egypt?
Insufficient sewerage coverage is a serious environmental concern in Kafr El-Sheikh. Before starting the project, only 26% of the total population was served by sewers and wastewater treatment facilities.
The low sewerage coverage has a negative impact on the quality of surface and groundwater and the ecosystem of Lake Borollos which, through the sea outlet of Boughaz El-Borollos, connects to the Mediterranean Sea.
This is why expansion of wastewater treatment in Kafr El-Sheikh was identified as a priority project under the Horizon 2020 Initiative led by the European Commission. The aim is to reduce the pollution of the Mediterranean by the year 2020 by tackling the sources of pollution that account for around 80% of the overall pollution of the Mediterranean Sea municipal waste, urban wastewater, and industrial pollution.