New Project: Western Desert, Egypt

Toward the end of 2022, the GWB Committee selected two new projects for funding. One of the selected projects is in Egypt.

About the project

Egypt has the third-largest population in Africa and the largest population in the Arab World and North Africa. While the amount of water allocated to Egypt from the Nile River did not increase since 1959, the population increased from 26 to 102 million as of 2021. The growing population, climate change, sea level rise, and seawater intrusion are threatening the limited water resources pushing the country beyond the threshold of water scarcity and is close to the absolute water scarcity level. This project aims to support groundwater exploration in villages that are in dire need of drinking water, which is shipped to them by tanks from cities hundreds of kilometers away.

The project’s objectives include:

  1. Map aquifers’ distribution and define optimum locations for water wells as villagers cannot afford drilling dry wells
  2. Drilling two water wells to confirm the results and provide a sustainable water source
  3. Generate soil suitability maps to help the villagers select suitable crops
  4. Purchasing electrical resistivity equipment to remain in a local university in Egypt to improve the geophysics education and promote geophysics application for groundwater exploration in this region
  5. Provide capacity building in hydrogeophysics at the local university to continue serving other villages
  6. Training over 20 undergraduate students and involving the SEG student chapter (~15 active members) at the local university in all the stages of the project
A recent field photo shows some project partners, faculty, and students from Alexandria University and the National Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries with a local villager at one of the villages the project will survey.

The water scarcity crisis in Egypt is currently affecting most of the population and it is expected to significantly worsen with the rapid increase in population and climate change. The project aims to overcome this water crisis in two villages by mapping the groundwater aquifers, drilling two water wells to alleviate some of the villages’ immediate needs, and building a capacity in hydrogeophysics at a local Egyptian institution. The project will help the people in the surveyed villages identify aquifers’ thickness and distribution and define optimum drilling locations for water wells. The project will support purchasing electrical resistivity equipment to remain in Egypt to provide capacity building in hydrogeophysics for the faculty and students to continue and further develop this type of research to serve similar villages in the Western Desert of Egypt. The students will use the obtained hydrological information to integrate with available soil maps to generate soil suitability maps that help the villagers select the crops that can grow in this environment. Undergraduate students majoring in geophysics will participate in all the project stages, including acquisition, processing, and interpretation, providing students with a broad understanding of the field and laboratory activities. The active S.E.G. student chapter (~15 active members) at the Alexandria University will participate in all the stages of the project.

Project Partners

  1. Oklahoma State University, USA
  2. Alexandria University, Egypt and
  3. the National Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries, Egypt

This project directly addresses Goal 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation for all). For more info on UNSDGs, please visit:

To learn more about our grantee partners, Oklahoma State University, please visit this link.

A photo appeared in the Egyptian daily newspaper youm7 on30 December 2022 shows the residents of the 7 kilometer area of Matrouh Governorate collecting their drinking water from a water tank due to the continued drinking water cuts.

A note from the project partners in Egypt

We are grateful to SEG Foundation and GWB for supporting this project that will provide the students and faculty of our university with a state of art electrical resistivity equipment, software, and training to explore sustainable water resources not only at the two surveyed villages by this project but at many other villages in the western desert of Egypt. Locating groundwater aquifers will secure clean drinking water for the villagers and boost their economy.