The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided over $100m for the conservation of more than 70 historic sites in Egypt.
The grants have also targeted expansion of tourism activities and generation of new jobs for Egyptians, according to the US Embassy in Cairo, on the sidelines of USAID Acting Administrator John Barsa’s visit to Egypt.
Barsa is visiting Egypt from 6-8 October in support of the US commitment to economic development and religious freedom. He has been joined by USAID Chief Advisor for International Religious Freedom Samah Norquist and Deputy Assistant to the US President Sarah Makin.
On Tuesday, accompanied by US Ambassador in Cairo Jonathan Cohen, the delegation visited several historic sites in Old Cairo that USAID grants have helped preserve, by lowering the groundwater and installing sewer lines. These include the Amr Ibn El-Aas Mosque, the Ben Ezra Synagogue, and the Saint Virgin Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church, also known as the Hanging Church, where they met Bishop Youlious of Old Cairo.
The delegation also met with faith-based organisation Coptic Orphans, with which the US has a partnership which has helped over 5,000 girls in Minya, Assiut, and Sohag develop leadership skills.
Together with Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat, the delegation visited Flat6Labs, where they met with young entrepreneurs to learn about their business plans and successes.
Flat6Labs, which has gained support from USAID and the Egyptian American Enterprise Fund, is the leading business accelerator in Egypt that helped 106 businesses create 7,450 jobs.
Since 2011, the USAID has invested over $150m in Egypt to support thousands of entrepreneurs and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The day concluded with a celebration of the new Intercommunity Girls’ Empowerment programme, which took place together with Minister Al-Mashat, Minister of Social Solidarity Nevine El-Kabbaj, National Council of Women Chairperson Maya Morsy, Ambassador Cohen, and other distinguished guests.
The $3m programme will benefit 1,500 youth, parents, and community leaders in Upper Egypt to support economic development, promote understanding between religious communities, and strengthen girls’ access to education and employment.