Sign-up for Siwa Conference in Cairo on Sustainable Water Management, November 16, 2017

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Wed, 2017-11-01
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Sign-up for Siwa Conference in Cairo on Sustainable Water Management

November 16, 2017


Egypt is blessed with the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer, a huge water reservoir under Egypt’s Western Desert. Egyptians have ambitions to use that water to develop the desert, but experiences from the past decades show that this is far from easy to be actualized.  Desert development projects, for example, often try to reduce costs by not bringing in drainage systems in an effort to treat and re-use the drainage water.  As a consequence of this practice, the water table in the Siwa depression has been steadily rising over the past decades. Thus   new lands are developed for agriculture at the expense of the lowest laying old land.


Another major challenge is that the soil of much desert land is saline. In Abu Sherouf, a location in Siwa Oasis, and many other areas in the desert, the ground water is brackish; only if one digs until around 800 meters would one find sweet water.  However, drilling such deep wells is costly and drilling permits for that level are, naturally, hard to obtain. Desalinization with Reverse Osmosis is possible, but costly, and in practice only feasible for high value cash crops in greenhouses.  



The Siwa Oasis

Photo credits: (“Juba Spring Siwa Oasis Cleopatra Bath”)


Yet, with all these challenges, President al-Sisi has stated that he wants Egypt to develop 1,5 million feddans of desert land. This ambition has been laid in the hands of the Egyptian Countryside Development Company (ECDC) whose COO and CEO Tarek Abdou is speaking at our conference about facing the numerous challenges that need to be met in order to achieve this goal.


Furthermore, Prof. Dr. Hany al-Kateb, member of the prestigious Presidential Advisory Council of Scientists and Experts – Egypt and Senior Scientist at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen, Germany, will speak about Sustainable Integrated Farming. Sustainable Integrated Farming practices result in a net zero waste of water and organic material with subsoil irrigation in greenhouses.


Jantine Stulp, MA student in biology at AERES University for Applied Technology, will speak about the opportunities and challenges in Abu Sherouf, Siwa, where she is planning to establish a two feddan research farm, with help of the Saltfarm Texel. Jantine plans to experiment with different varieties of crops under varying circumstances which will help us to determine the crop varieties best suited to Siwa’s climate and soil profile. The Saltfarm Texel, a Dutch company specialized in growing crops in saline areas, is sending a representative to speak about their experiences in many other countries, and the opportunities they see for Egypt as a whole, and Abu Sherouf in particular.


Of course, desert development needs lots of energy. Local Siwan authorities and the heads of the powerplants of Marsa Matrouh governorate have already shown great interest in our work.  Dr. Evert du Marchie van Voorthuysen, director of the GEZEN Foundation for Utility-Scale Solar Energy, will speak about Solar Atmospheric Water Generation (AWG) and Egypt´s Ability to   Combat Global Warming with a focus on rapid renewable electricity, Concentrating Solar Power (CSP), Photo-Voltaic (PV) or solar panels, and wind energy.

The conference is being funded by the SGP party with funds from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Eng. Henk Massink, SGP representative and Senior Policy Officer, Dutch Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Directorate General of Foreign Economic Relations, will about sustainable agriculture in itsthe broader context.  In this conference, however, he represents his party and not the Dutch Foreign Ministry. Representatives from the Dutch Embassy in Cairo will speak about Cooperation between the Netherlands and Egypt concerning water and smart climate agriculture.


Are you interested in joining our conference? If so, please click here to fill out the registration form. 


The conference will be held at the Association of Upper Egypt for Education and Development conference center. The conference center is located close to the Sharia Ramsis street and Ramsis railway station in Cairo. Street address and further information will be mailed to you after signing up.


Do you know others who might be interested in attending? Please send them this newsletter and ask them to sign up. Are you not yet a newsletter subscriber (free of charge)? If you would like to be regularly informed about our organizational activities, please sign up through writing


The number of seats in the Conference Center are limited to 100. Once the number of applications has reached 100, no more applications will be accepted. We will be accepting applications until the evening of November 12th, at the latest. For any further questions, please email:


This conference’s proceedings will be filmed for the record. Several parties in Egypt have expressed great interest in our work, and we hope that our conference will contribute to an increased awareness of sustainably developing Egypt’s deserts.


Cornelis Hulsman,

Event organizer for the Center for Arab-West Understanding

31 October 2017