Challenges in modernizing the subsurface drainage systems in Egypt

Henk Ritzema*, Safwat Abdel-Dayem, Hussein El-Atfy, Magdy Rashad Nasralla, Hanny Saad Shaheen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


After completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1970, the Egyptian government undertook an ambitious programme to install drainage on all of Egypt's agricultural lands (approx. 2.7 Mha). In the decades that followed, subsurface drainage was implemented on 2.5 Mha, and drainage practices evolved from manual to large-scale and mechanized. Currently, new or rehabilitated systems are being installed on some 25,000 ha each year. However, modernization is needed to address high maintenance costs, extend the less-than-expected lifespan of the subsurface pipe systems and adapt to ongoing changes in climate and land use, such as shifting cropping patterns and irrigation practices. This paper discusses challenges in modernizing these subsurface drainage systems and makes recommendations for improving the design process to overcome some of the main issues presented. The focus is on a decentralized design approach to facilitate a more participatory process and better account for location-specific conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108484
JournalAgricultural Water Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023


  • Design
  • Egypt
  • Operation and maintenance
  • Subsurface drainage


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