Publications — Virtual Water Trade

National Water, Food, and Trade Modeling Framework: The Case of Egypt

by Water To Food Team

This paper introduces a modeling framework for the analysis of real and virtual water flows at national scale. The framework has two components: (1) a national water model that simulates agricultural, industrial and municipal water uses, and available water and land resources; and (2) an international virtual water trade model that captures national virtual water exports and imports related to trade in crops and animal products.

This National Water, Food & Trade (NWFT) modeling framework is applied to Egypt, a water-poor country and the world's largest importer of wheat. Egypt's food and water gaps and the country's food (virtual water) imports are estimated over a baseline period (1986–2013) and projected up to 2050 based on four scenarios. Egypt's food and water gaps are growing rapidly as a result of steep population growth and limited water resources.

The NWFT modeling framework shows the nexus of the population dynamics, water uses for different sectors, and their compounding effects on Egypt's food gap and water self-sufficiency.

The sensitivity analysis reveals that for solving Egypt's water and food problem non-water-based solutions like educational, health, and awareness programs aimed at lowering population growth will be an essential addition to the traditional water resources development solution. Both the national and the global models project similar trends of Egypt's food gap. The NWFT modeling framework can be easily adapted to other nations and regions.