Egypt has withstood the test posed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the sustainability of development programmes taking place within the country.
The remarks were made by Gresham Barrett, the United Nations World Food Programme’s (WFP) Chief of Staff, during a recent visit to Egypt.
Barrett said that the global health crisis has also tested development programme sustainability around the world.
“By empowering all members of a household, these interventions allow families and their communities to achieve lasting positive change in agriculture, nutrition, food security and education,” he added.
Barrett’s visit to Egypt came this week, during which he visited joint Egyptian Government and WFP programmes in Luxor. As part of the visit, the WFP representative reviewed projects promoting women’s economic empowerment, rural development, and education.
The visit travelled to El Boghdadi village, one of the 123 communities supported under the rural development programme run by the WFP and the Egyptian Government.
The delegation toured consolidated land plants and learned about improved agro-processing and irrigation techniques. Together, the interventions have increased smallholder farmers’ income by 30%, and significantly reduced crop-losses as well as water usage by more than 25%.
The Egyptian Government has requested that the successful rural development model be scaled up to 1 million smallholder farmers. As a result, the WFP and Egypt’s Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation are working together to expand the model to 90 villages in six governorates at a cost of about $7.6m (EGP 120m).
Hisham Badr, former WFP Executive Board President and current Ambassador of Egypt in Rome, said, “I highly commend the existing collaboration between the Government of Egypt and the WFP in improving food security and resilience of vulnerable communities, a high priority in Egypt’s Vision 2030.”
He added, “The Government of Egypt is committed to making the most of its strategic partnership with the UN and its specialised agencies to not only advance national development priorities, but also to support development in the region and neighbouring African countries.”
The delegation also visited one of the 120 flagship ‘Community Hubs’, which have been developed jointly by the Ministry of Education and Technical Education and the WFP.
The ‘Community Hubs’ model involves transforming one-classroom, multi-grade community schools into educational establishments with technological tools and internet connectivity.
This allows them to serve as knowledge hubs promoting digital learning and acting as knowledge-sharing platforms for the community at large.
The visit concluded with a tour of the Luxor Coordination Centre for Knowledge Sharing and Innovation to Promote Resilience in Upper Egypt.
The Centre, managed jointly by the Egyptian Government and the WFP, supports the 2030 Agenda and national developmental priorities through the exchange of best practices and innovations among Government and development entities. Among the centre’s services, an online platform was established highlighting Egypt’s successful development practices.
Menghestab Haile, WFP Representative and Country Director in Egypt, said, “The Government of Egypt and the WFP have established a very strong foundation of development work that has proven effective and sustainable in empowering vulnerable communities economically and socially.”
Haile noted his confident that with the support of the WFP’s donors and partners that the organisation will be able to expand these successful interventions further.