In large parts of North Africa there is a critical water shortage, which is increasingly exacerbated by ongoing developments. In Egypt in particular, economic development, agricultural growth and urbanisation are worsening the situation. In order to meet growing water demand, groundwater resources are increasingly being used, which in some areas leads to overexploitation and salinization. The discrepancy between increasing water demand and limited water resources makes unconventional water supply concepts and the treatment of wastewater for reuse essential to the sustainable development of the region.
The project FEMAR – FEmale scientists for the use of reclaimed water through Managed Aquifer Recharge in North Africa explored the potential of an intelligent, artificial groundwater recharge system to contribute to sustainable water resource management in Egypt and other North African countries. The definition phase laid the first basis for the implementation of a managed aquifer recharge (MAR) pilot system in Egypt. With the help of a MAR pilot system, FEMAR aims to demonstrate the feasibility of unconventional, near-natural water management concepts and increase the acceptance towards the application of MAR as well as water reuse. To ensure sustainability and transferability of generated project results, decision-makers will be involved at an early stage in the main project phase and recommendations for a suitable legal framework for MAR will be formulated, for which the definition phase initiated the first steps, including the expansion of local networks. The promotion of an appropriate legal framework aims to foster innovation in groundwater management and to initiate replication and upscaling projects. In the planning and implementation of FEMAR, including the recently completed definition phase and the upcoming main project phase, the active participation of women scientists and the support of women in the water sector are a priority. Women scientists coordinate the project on the Egyptian and German side, and women in stakeholder groups are specifically involved and sensitised to strengthen their role in public decision-making processes.
During the six-month definition phase of FEMAR, adelphi led the organisation and content-related preparation of the main project phase. Among other things, the project team intensified the cooperation in Egypt and other North African countries and expanding the consortium by networking with local actors from research, industry and politics. Strong local networks and the cooperation with those directly affected will made it possible to adapt the project results to local needs, including a pre-feasibility study for the construction of a MAR pilot plant and the development of a project concept for the main phase. Here, adelphi built on experience acquired in the SUBSOL and the SMART Control projects, which explored the hydrogeological, political and economic framework conditions for the implementation of MAR solutions at selected sites in South America, Europe and Asia.