Egypt’s ministries of international cooperation, local development, agriculture and land reclamation, and social solidarity discussed on Tuesday in a meeting with the Menghestab Haile, the Country Director and Representative of World Food Programme (WFP) in Egypt, the Decent Life initiative and future action plans for expanding WFP projects that aim to achieve agricultural and rural development in the country.
The meeting comes on the heel of the success of the first phase implemented in 63 villages across five governorates in Upper Egypt.
Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat reviewed during the meeting the successful partnership with the WFP in the country’s strategy from 2018 to 2023, which is based on enhancing food security, developing agricultural and rural communities, and supporting the most vulnerable groups in rural communities, such as girls, women and rural entrepreneurs, and small farmers.
“The second phase of the projects implemented through the WFP, in collaboration with the government of Egypt, complements the ‘Decent Life’ presidential initiative,” said Al-Mashat.
“This initiative aims to develop and reform the country’s most vulnerable villages by supporting investment in human capital through enhancing livelihoods, diversifying sources of income via livestock and poultry production projects, loans, handicrafts, improving the efficiency of using water resources, supporting the ability of farmers to adapt to climate change, achieving economic and social empowerment of women and girls, and encouraging creativity and innovation through collaborative digital knowledge platforms.”
She added that these projects help in achieving a wide range of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 1: No Poverty, SDG 2: Zero Hunger, SDG 4: Quality Education, SDG 5: Gender Equality, SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation, SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, and SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities.
She also noted that a specialised committee will be formed to pinpoint the appropriate villages and centres for the development project expansion, adding that the committee will include representatives from the relevant ministries and the WFP to discuss the precise details of the proposed plan and finalise its implementation framework.
Minister of Local Development Mahmoud Shaarawi stressed during the meeting the importance of the projects in coordination with the WFP to support rural communities in Upper Egypt within the framework of the National Program for the Development of Rural Areas, which falls under the ‘Decent Life’ presidential initiative.
“This includes ensuring the availability of important services to citizens, particularly in infrastructure and sanitation, drinking water, and job opportunities for residents, especially for youth and women. This is happening alongside other development projects implemented by other ministries: canal lining, and modernising irrigation systems and agricultural processes”, said Shaarawi.
Nevine El-Qabbaj, the minister of social solidarity, also applauded the strong partnership between the WFP and Egypt in several projects under the social protection framework, adding that the ‘1,000 days’ project is an essential collaboration between the ministry and the WFP, which focuses on supporting children, community schools, micro-enterprise training, the provision of loans for mothers of school children to develop their own projects, and employment support for the informal sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.
El-Qabbaj explained that the ‘Forsa’ program aims, as well, to widen agricultural, animal care, and crafts development to cover many villages across Upper Egypt, stressing that this is an opportunity for economic progress and empowerment, especially for women and youth, representing 32 million citizens according to the Ministry of Social Solidarity’s database; adding that this is a chance to endorse the ‘Decent Life’ initiative.
Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation El-Sayed El-Quseir said that the ministry had successful experiences with the WFP in developing agricultural and rural communities, asserting the need to identify the villages that will most benefit from the project and a list of their requirements so that an appropriate program suited for the residents can be put into action to achieve the desired results.
El-Quseir also stressed the need for projects to include digital agricultural development, as well as value chain development, and cooperative marketing of agricultural products, to ensure the sustainability of achievements in the selected villages.
Meanwhile, Haile praised the government’s coordination through the Ministry of International Cooperation in implementing the program’s framework.
He noted that the WFP’s national agenda has been laid out in collaboration with the concerned ministries in Egypt, explaining the good outcome and smooth workflow of previous collaborative projects.
The villages’ development expansion project that falls under the WFP’s action plan is expected to support rural communities, achieve economic and social empowerment of women, enhance livelihoods, and improve water management in Egypt, according to Haile.