A high-level multi-ministry meeting has taken place to discuss the action plan and proposed operational steps for expanding the United Nations World Food Programme’s (WFP) Projects.
The steps aim to achieve agricultural and rural development, following the success of the first phase implemented in 63 villages across five governorates in Upper Egypt.
The meeting took place with representatives from Egypt’s Ministries of International Cooperation, Local Development, Agriculture and Land Reclamation, and Social Solidarity.
During the meeting, Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat reviewed the successful partnership with the WFP through the country strategy from 2018 to 2023.
This 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.
Minister Al-Mashat said that the second phase of the projects implemented through the WFP in collaboration with the Egyptian Government complement 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, and diversifying sources of income. This will take place via livestock and poultry production projects, loans, handicrafts, and improving the efficiency of using water resources.
It will also support farmers’ ability to adapt to climate change, achieve the economic and social empowerment of women and girls, and encourage creativity and innovation through collaborative digital knowledge platforms.
The Minister discussed the proposed work plan for the next phase, noting that a specialised committee will be formed to pinpoint the appropriate villages and centres 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 finalise its implementation framework. Al-Mashat specified that another Multi-Stakeholder Platform will be held, where the necessary development financing sources will be further discussed.
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 bringing together development partners, the government, the private sector and the civil society under one umbrella. They are working towards one goal, which is the development of rural and agricultural communities to achieve sustainable development.
Minister of Local Development Mahmoud Shaarawi stressed the importance of the projects in coordination with WFP to support rural communities in Upper Egypt. These come as part of the Development of the Rural Areas which falls under the “Decent Life” Presidential initiative.
It 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.
Shaarawi added that this is happening alongside other development projects implemented by other ministries: canal lining, and modernizing irrigation systems and agricultural processes.
He said 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. This will be made available through the updated data under the “Decent Life” Initiative and the Egyptian Rural Development Program.
He pointed out the readiness of the Local Development Fund to provide loans with low interest for residents in villages to establish micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs).
Minister of Social Solidarity Nevine El-Kabbaj said the “1,000 days” project is an essential collaboration between the Ministry and WFP.
The programme focuses on supporting children, community schools, micro-enterprise training, as well as the provision of loans for mothers of school children to develop their own projects. It also focuses on employment support for the informal sector during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation ElSayed ElKosayer said that his Ministry had successful experiences with WFP in developing agricultural and rural communities.
ElKosayer stressed the need to identify the villages that will most benefit from the project and a list of their requirements so that an appropriate programme 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.
Menghestab Haile, Country Director and Representative of WFP Egypt, praised the Egyptian Government’s coordination through the Ministry of International Cooperation in implementing the programme’s framework.
He noted that the WFP’s national agenda has been laid out in collaboration with the line ministries in Egypt. He highlighted the good outcome and smooth workflow 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.