'Egypt has a comprehensive social protection program,' WFP's Menghestab Haile tells Ahram Online

Ahram Online , Thursday 25 Oct 2018

Menghestab Haile , World Food Program Representative (WFP) and Country director in Egypt.
Menghestab Haile , World Food Program Representative (WFP) and Country director in Egypt.

On the occasion of the celebration of the United day in 24 October the UN conducted a series of interviews exclusively for Al-Ahram online.

The UN day marks the anniversary of the entry of the UN chart into force in 1945.

With the ratification of this founding document by the majority of its signatories, including the five permanent members of the security Council, the United Nations officially came into being.

Menghestab Haile, the World Food Program (WFP) Representative and Country Director in Egypt, tells Ahram Online that WFP supports the Egyptian Government improve nutrition and food security status to ensure all Egyptians have access to adequate nutrition. 

WFP is celebrating its 50th anniversary in Egypt this year, can you share with us the key areas that your work in the country focuses on?

Our support comes in many forms including: Capacity building for key stakeholders; knowledge sharing and resource mobilization that enables us to implement the needed activities to reach our target.The government has a comprehensive social protection program that includes many initiatives including school feeding, Takafol and Karama and WFP’s programs supports these social safety nets through many interventions

Supporting and complementing the National School Feeding Programme to ensure the food and nutritional needs of children are met. WFP also provides livelihood activities to urban and rural communities, especially adolescent youth to improve their employability and income opportunities for better food security.

Providing food assistance and livelihood generating activities that build the resilience of refugees, displaced population as well as the host communities.

Supporting and complementing the Government’s programmes to nutritionally vulnerable communities with a special focus on pregnant and lactating women. Targeted communities also benefit from literacy education and social behavior change communications to reinforce positive behavioral change for better nutrition.

Providing support to vulnerable stallholder farmers and Bedouin communities, who are among the most food insecure people in Egypt with significantly low food production and scarce water resources, to improve their resilience through diversification of livelihoods, creation and rehabilitation of assets and market access training.

Providing institutional capacity strengthening to the Government and developing innovative solutions to enhance social protection and resilience building programmes and systems.

In addition, the Government of Egypt is interested in supporting African countries through South South cooperation and WFP is supporting this initiative through facilitating regional and international knowledge and technological exchanges between the countries to achieve common development goals.

How do you support the Government in reporting to the SDGs? And what are the Sustainable Development Goals that you focus on in Egypt?

The right to secure access to food and nutrition for all Egyptians is enshrined in both the national Constitution and in Egypt's commitment to the global sustainable development agenda.

In 2015, Egypt launched Egypt Vision 2030, a sustainable development strategy and plan for achieving the 2030 Agenda – and specifically SDG 2 – through the promotion of food security, nutrition, gender equality, women’s empowerment and sustainable agricultural growth. WFP is supporting the Government achieve SDG2 through using SDG 17 to consolidate the resources and the means to achieve SDG 2. 

Looking back at 2017, what do you consider as the key achievements that you were able to achieve?

Together with the Government of Egypt we have managed to develop and approve a five-year strategic plan signed by WFP’s Executive Board. WFP’s Egypt Country Strategic Plan for the period 2018–2023 is the result of extensive consultations with the Government and other partners and builds on lessons learned from past and current WFP operations.

You have visited WFP projects on the ground several times. Can you share with us one of the remarkable stories that you have seen? 

Going to the field is a great passion of mine as I get to see hands on how the partnerships we have established have helped changed the lives of many vulnerable families. I remember in Upper Egypt the family Al Nouby, a smallholder farmer who previously struggled with the little income that his land brought him. Supporting a family of five he had great difficulty making ends meet.

Talking to him during my visit and after he had joined our small holder farmers project, I listened to him tell me about how his income has sufficiently increased in a way that allowed him to build a cement ceiling to his home instead of the palm fronds unstable ceiling he had before. Not only that, but he was also able to buy a cow that he sells its milk to bring in additional income to his family. 

What do you hope to achieve in 2018?

In 2018 we will start implementing a new programme that will support small holder farmers in Upper Egypt, complement the Government’s Social Protection Programme, enhance school feeding and most interestingly we will establish the Luxor Coordination Centre for Building Resilience and Innovation in Upper Egypt that will be a knowledge center serve not only Egypt but all African countries.  

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