● The project also aims to improve the resilience of farmers in adapting to climate change, diversifying sources of income, and achieving economic and social empowerment of rural women. ● It also looks into coordination and integration between relevant parties to ensure effective impact from international partnerships and enhance development efforts in the country. ● The ministries are forming a joint committee to discuss the implementation plan for the second phase of the project and a joint coordination cooperation platform to discuss the participation of development partners in financing sources.
Last September, H.E Minister of International Cooperation Dr. Rania A. Al-Mashat visited few of the project sites in the Luxor Governorate; which is when it was proposed to expand the intervention plans to other villages. Al-Mashat held a meeting in order to discuss the expansion plans with Major General Mahmoud Sharawi, Minister of Local Development; Al-Sayed Al-Quseir, Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation; Nevine El-Kabbaj, Minister of Social Solidarity; and Menghestab Haile, Country Director and Representative of WFP Egypt. This meeting falls within the Ministry’s Economic Diplomacy doctrine calling for Multi-Stakeholder Platforms gathering multilateral and bilateral development partners and line ministries, to align future priorities following Egypt’s 2030 National Agenda and the global UN SDGs. During the meeting, Al-Mashat reviewed the successful partnership with the WFP through the country strategy from 2018 to 2023, which is based on several key pillars that include 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 Minister of International Cooperation pointed out that the second phase of the projects implemented through the WFP in collaboration with the Government of Egypt complements the “Decent Life” Presidential Initiative. 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. Al-Mashat added that these projects help in achieving a wide range of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as, SDG 1: No Poverty, SDG 2: Zero Hunger, SDG 4: Quality Education, SDG 5: Gender Equality, SGD 6: Clean Water and Sanitation, SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, and SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities. The Minister discussed the proposed work plan for the next phase, explaining that a specialized committee will be formed to pinpoint the appropriate villages and centers for the development project expansion. This committee will include representatives from the relevant ministries and the WFP to discuss the precise details of the proposed plan and finalize its implementation framework. Al-Mashat specified that another Multi-Stakeholder Platform will be held, where the necessary development financing sources will be further discussed. H.E. Al-Mashat added that the WFP projects come in the context of the third pillar of Economic Diplomacy, which is the Global Partnerships Narrative that puts “People at the Core, Projects in Action and Purpose as the Driver”. She explained that the first phase of the project was a model for economic and social development as it brought together development partners, the government, the private sector and the civil society under one umbrella, working towards one goal; which is the development of rural and agricultural communities to achieve sustainable development. Major General Mahmoud Sharawi, Minister of Local Development praised the efforts made by WFP in terms of development projects across many of Egypt’s governorates, highlightingh the efforts put in the ongoing coordination for the villages’ development projects expansion. General Sharawi stressed the importance of the projects in coordination with WFP to support rural communities in Upper Egypt within the framework of the National Program for the Development of the Rural Areas which falls under the “Decent Life” Presidential initiative. This includes ensuring the availability of the important services to the citizens, particularly in infrastructure and sanitation, drinking water, and job opportunities for residents, especially for youth and women. General Sharawi added that this is happening alongside other development projects implemented by other ministries: canal lining, and modernizing irrigation systems and agricultural processes. The Minister of Local Development commented that it is necessary to set a criteria that can be used to select villages that will take part in the project, and to have a sufficient description of their needs through the updated data within the framework of the “Decent Life” Initiative and the Egyptian Rural Development Program. H.E. pointed out the readiness of the Local Development Fund to provide loans with low interest for residents in villages to establish Micro, Medium, and Small-sized Enterprises. Nevine El-Kabbaj, the Minister of Social Solidarity also applauded the strong partnership between WFP and Egypt in several projects under the social protection framework. The “1,000 days” project is an essential collaboration between the Ministry and WFP: the program focuses on supporting children, community schools, micro-enterprise training, the provision of loans for mothers of school children to develop their own projects, and the employment support for the informal sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. El-Kabbaj explained that the “Forsa” program, (translating to “opportunity” in English and referring to the villages’ development project expansion), aims to widen the agricultural, animal care, and crafts development to cover many villages across upper Egypt. H.E. emphasized 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. Al-Kabbaj complimented the coordination role played by the Ministry of International Cooperation in allocating the international financing in the appropriate national projects, and likewise indicated the success of cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation in the field of poultry and animal production, and in agricultural production and processing. Al-Sayed Al-Quseir, Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, said that the Ministry had successful experiences with WFP in developing agricultural and rural communities. Al-Quseir stressed 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. He 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. The Country Director and Representative of WFP Egypt, Menghestab Haile praised the government’s coordination through the Ministry of International Cooperation in implementing the program’s framework. He noted that WFP’s national agenda has been laid out in collaboration with the line ministries in Egypt; explaining the good outcome and smooth work flow of the previous collaborative projects. The villages’ development expansion project falls under WFP’s action plan to support rural communities, achieve economic and social empowerment of women, enhance livelihoods, and improve water management in Egypt. Visiting Implemented Projects in Luxor Al-Mashat, along with officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, and WFP, visited some projects in Luxor last September. This is part of the Ministry’s role in following up on the implementation of financed development projects. Among the projects visited, there was El-Boghdadi village, one of the 63 villages that benefited from WFP’s development projects in Luxor. During the visit, Al-Mashat inspected the tomato drying project in the village, which provides 200 seasonal jobs for women, and contributes to meeting the demand for sun-dried agricultural products. This increases Egyptian agricultural exports abroad, and improves farmers' incomes by 30%. The Minister visited the Luxor Center for Innovation, which acts as a platform for innovation and knowledge dissemination by training women entrepreneurs and providing soft loans. She also visited Al-Fatatih school that contributes to improving the capacities of 2,309 mothers, decreases the drop-out rate, and achieves comprehensive awareness for rural families. Tribute to the African Union Commission After the visit, the African Union Commission praised the joint efforts made by the Ministry of International Cooperation and WFP in developing rural communities and supporting small farmers in Upper Egypt, explaining that these projects have become an example to be followed in many other countries. The Ministry of International Cooperation prepared a joint film with WFP under the title "Beyond Food". The film covered the activities of WFP in Egypt, which aim to develop society, achieve food security, empower women entrepreneurs, and achieve the SDGs. The film was also shown in the meetings of The United Nations General Assembly in New York during the celebration of the UN's 75th anniversary.