Upper Egypt.. The land beyond the temples

Development is about adaptation and innovation, and with that comes poverty reduction. The problem with the poor communities of developing countries, especially the rural ones, is that they are still stuck in a time capsule, all the while their population is growing and natural resources are diminishing. Fortunately, there are many ways to overcome these problems. Unfortunately though, the snag is in introducing them to new methods; i.e. getting them to adapt to innovative solutions.

NGOs play an evidently important role in the development of poor communities in the developing world. ENID is an example of an effectively successful program that contributes with creating more job opportunities and supporting food production and security in rural Upper Egypt.  ENID’s “Sustainable Agricultural Development” program, led by Dr. Dyaa Abdou, is one that focuses on promoting agricultural development. It works to increase the utilization efficiency of scarce natural resources as well as building the capacity of both the rural youth and women to produce and innovate.

The Sustainable Agricultural Development program supports a number of activities that aim at developing the agricultural environment and build the capacity of both the rural people as well as NGOs and governmental sectors to work together. Dr. Abdou highlights the main activities and how they are expected to benefit and up the welfare of Upper Egypt’s rural community. These include:

Integrated Fish Farms

These farms depend on solar power units to extract underground water. The integrated aspect to them emanates from the various agricultural activities hosted on the farms; including food and feed plantations, livestock, recycling agricultural waste to produce organic compost and finally producing Bio Gas to satisfy local needs for electricity/power (e.g. light, heat, cooking… etc.).

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Developmental Challenges in Upper Egypt: A woman’s perspective

“الست لو خدت حظها في التعليم؛ هتعرف ازاي تشارك، ازاي تطور في المجتمع بتاعها، ازاي تشارك في الحياه الثقافية و السياسية في مجتمعها…. تعرف اللي ليها و اللي عليها”

“If women are empowered with proper education; they’d be able to participate, to develop their communities, and to contribute to the cultural and political life… They will know their rights and their duties!”

Qena Governorate, Upper Egypt
Qena Governorate, Upper Egypt

These are the words of Zeinab Maghraby, whom we’ve had the opportunity to interview at ENID’s annual conference. Zeinab is a simple rural woman from Upper Egypt, specifically from a small town called “Gezeeret El Dom” in Qena governorate. We asked Zeinab to tell us, in her opinion, about the developmental challenges they face in Upper Egypt and how ENID’s initiative helps them overcome some of these challenges.

Empowering Women..

Modest as she seems, Zeinab makes some compelling arguments regarding the challenges that face development in Upper Egypt and how the government approaches their problems. She first talks about women and how they face many problems, especially in rural Egypt. Zeinab argues that women need to be empowered in the work environment as well as the political life. The underlying challenge, in her opinion, is illiteracy. She believes that an educated woman is fit for participation, advisory and change; whether in the scope of her small community or even in politics.

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From localized development to up-scaling: What’s the role of key players?

Dr. Anita Nirody, the UNDP’s resident representative in Egypt commences the Egypt Network for Integrated Development (ENID)’s 1st Annual conference by expressing the UNDP’s pride in the association with the initiative for its vital efforts toward poverty eradication in rural Upper Egypt. The conference theme was “A call for developing Upper Egypt”, where ENID demonstrates its efforts in promoting sustainable development and employment opportunities in Upper Egypt. Dr. Nirody emphasizes the advantage of the initiative, being a truly integrated model for development that addresses the most vulnerable groups.

The initiative, Dr. Nirodi argues, helps the poor people of Upper Egypt find job opportunities and builds their capacities to lead productive livelihoods. Moreover, it links them to value chains and markets. Being a multi-stakeholder initiative, ENID works closely with local communities’ administration as well as various networks of civil society groups. It works in three major spheres; agriculture, SME development and innovative business models.

The conference hosted a number of ministers of the Egyptian government, who expressed their support of the initiative’s goals and agendas, which need be integrated on a national level. Dr. Nirody also expresses her faith in the effectiveness of the initiative’s model and its potential to be replicated in other parts of Egypt. Such an upscale would require a high level of cooperation between different ministerial bodies, with the support of international partners such as DFID and the Sawiris foundation.

Watch interview video with Anita Nirody

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South-South cooperation efforts within “Spaces for engagement” program

By Leandro Echt, Coordinator of the Influence, Monitoring and Evaluation Program at CIPPEC

Every two years, the Colombian Confederation of NGOs (CCONG) holds the National Conference of NGOs in partnership with regional NGO Federations. This year, CCONG and the Caldas’ Federation of NGOs brought the “V National Meeting of Colombian NGOs: social innovation for development, an analysis from the NGO” to Manizales, Colombia.

Encuentro-Nacional-de-ONG-2012-090-e1380738795998The meeting aimed at creating a space for dialogue and reflection among leaders and representatives of social organizations, as well as other stakeholders in Colombia. The dialogue was targeted at the importance of having an innovative social sector to contribute to the peace process, governance and territorial development.

Established throughout the meeting, a South-South Cooperation Forum aimed at knowing the trends of South-South cooperation in Colombia, sharing experiences of South-South cooperation between NGOs and other stakeholders, analyzing South- South cooperation as a modality to be strengthened among NGOs, and identifying realities, challenges and opportunities for cooperation among NGOs.
CIPPEC was invited to participate in this Forum and share its experience within the program “Spaces for engagement: using knowledge to improve public decisions (SFE)”. A joint initiative between GDNet and CIPPEC, SFE encompass­es six years of intensive work (2008-2013) that aimed at creating diverse spaces of engagement with the participation of researchers from policy research institutions (PRIs) that conduct or use investigations to influence policy, policymakers, and/or decision making processes. For that purpose, it sought to work with a Community of Practice (CoP) gathering selected researchers from think tanks and research institutes, as well as policymakers who are strongly committed to improving the use of development research in policymaking in Latin America. The program also seeks to promote South-South cooperation on linking research and policy between Latin America, Asia and Africa.

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Shattered global wisdom

Today is UN Day for South-South Cooperation

Did you know that as of 22 December 2011, the General Assembly decided to declare 12 September- instead of December 19th– the United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation?  The General Assembly decision 66/550 endorsed the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Promoting and Implementing Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries . (United Nations website)

Time 4 Learning-K Samsonu New

We take so much for granted . .

I am very happy to seize this opportunity to raise awareness and provoke curiosity of international community about the value of ‘Connecting the South’. South-South collaboration is a very important ingredient  to international development. Southern research provides a resourceful pool of research that is considered a viable source of innovative ideas to current global challenges and uneven lumpiness in development.

In days where we see a deadly food crisis where hunger and drought spread across Africa; a daily human Massacre in Syria for the past two and half years where reactions to both parties cannot be more polarized (almost 110,000 people were killed mainly civilians including women and children and over 2,000,000 Syrian displaced- Business Insider); and instances where governments are willing to invest monies to go into war against other countries. How can this reality become a sustainable path to equal development opportunities for all?

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The GDN Community shares its views on the post-MDG development agenda

By Sherine Ghoneim and Cheryl Brown

On March 19th, 2013, Global Development Network (GDN) is hosting a High Level Panel Seminar on the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals, in New Delhi. A survey was conducted to give the GDN Community the chance to contribute to this and other forums by sharing its views on five key issues facing the panellists.

Over 160 development professionals working in academia, government, civil society and aid organisations around the world took up the opportunity to share their advice and experience on issues such as the implications of combining the environmental and anti-poverty agendas, and the challenges facing poverty eradication. The survey participants responded with a variety of examples of successful interventions and lessons learned about development policy planning and implementation.

A synthesis of the survey responses is available online. Despite the diversity of answers and contexts, the synthesis highlights some common themes cutting across the topics, such as the importance of empowering individuals and communities to develop their own livelihoods and giving them a greater say in how programs are designed and implemented. In the coming weeks we will be using this blog to look in-depth at some of the ideas and lessons that emerged from the survey and hope you will share your reactions and insights.

More about the Post MDGs Consultation

Join live webcast of ‘High Level Policy Dialogue’ event from 2.30-6.30 pm IST

Inequality of Access to Information: Can Information Sharing be universalized?

Access to information has long been established as one of the major problems faced by southern researchers. Enhancing information accessibility and use helps to better understand, analyze and research ongoing development challenges so that practical solutions can originate from those directly affected by them. This cause is supported by the Connect South Campaign that has pledged to promote sharing knowledge and fostering connections between researchers and decision-makers in the global south, supported by GDNet, GDN’s Knowledge services.

Building on the World Bank’s “Mobilizing Knowledge Networks for Development” conference, Alex Bielak, Senior Fellow and Knowledge Broker (UNU-INWEH) and Louise Shaxon, Research Fellow (ODI), tackle the issue of access to information & the equality of access to information from the perspective of internet access. However Bielak argues the importance of communications infrastructure and how everyone should be connected through information sharing backbone networks that facilitates high-definition data transfer. He raises two interesting questions regarding the current global potential of information access, especially in the south; as to who can afford it, and the sufficiency and quality of this access to knowledge. He emphasizes on accessibility granting and whether it is in fact universal.

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Another reason why “the storm of the Century” should be on everyone’s mind

The Fourth International Conference on Climate Change, hosted by The Philosophical Society of Quebec, taking place in London on Friday, November 9th, gains significance in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

A Conference designed for the professional, practitioner and layman alike; the world’s leading thinkers on climate change, climatology and environmental science are coming together to discuss policies, strategic perspectives and the science behind the debate. Not only that, but research papers, workshops and presentations by both researchers and practitioners will be included in the Conference.

Climate change cannot be a more timely topic as the world stood aghast, watching Hurricane Sandy ravage the US Eastern seaboard, Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, other parts of the Caribbean and even Canada, leaving an unprecedented death toll, fear and destruction in its wake.

Superstorm Sandy By Flickr User Life Goes Through (CC).

Sandy, in an unprecedented move in that region, caused an astounding death toll of over 100 in the US alone and a staggering 71 in the Caribbean, where Haiti was the worst hit. The New York Stock Exchange closed down, millions were deprived of electricity and an energy, housing, and mass transit crisis soon ensued. Not to mention an economic toll nearing a whopping $50 billion.

The good news is, and perhaps the only virtue that came after the many vices of Hurricane Sandy, was that it brought the climate change debate to the fore of global discourse once again. As a wide-eyed world watched, people could not help but wonder whether our use of fossil fuels had anything to do with this.

But why all this talk about climate change anyway? And why now?

Put simply, Superstorm Sandy, with all its graphic reality, raised some very serious questions about climate change and whether this phenomenon can really create “natural” disasters of this magnitude at this scale. Wondering whether it was an act of man or God, scientists, politicians and laymen alike started wondering if climate change was the real culprit.

Their argument is easy to follow. Scientists believe that climate change will cause more extreme weather, storms and hotter oceans, which will only gain intensity and frequency in the future. As oceans become hotter, they add intensity and fuel to hurricanes. Adding credence to the argument that climate change was the one to blame for the intensity of the superstorm.

Hurricane Sandy New York Blackout By Flickr User David Shankbone (CC).

One prominent politician, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York had this to say: “It’s a longer conversation, but I think part of learning from this is the recognition that climate change is a reality. Extreme weather is a reality. It is a reality that we are vulnerable.”

A climate change scientist, who contends that climate change can only account for 5-10% of the Hurricane, offers an interesting perspective. Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado says, “We’ve got this new normal. We’ve got this changed environment, so my view is that everything is affected. If the question is how large this effect actually is, well, it’s not 100 percent. So of course you should never say: ‘This storm is caused by climate change.’ But that’s really the wrong approach.”

Trenberth continues, “We have to get past this aspect of saying ‘Oh, it might be just natural variability, because these sorts of storms can occur without climate change.’ That’s not helpful at all,” Trenberth said, “and the reason is because the human component is only going to grow over time.”

The fact of the matter is that climate change remains a divisive, polarizing subject in both the developing and developed worlds. One where it becomes increasingly difficult to come to a consensus because of its close ties to many of the world’s leading industries, not to mention economic growth.

While Hurricane Sandy successfully brought back the climate change debate to the fore, and “re-politicized” it, the skeptics out there are still unconvinced, arguing that Hurricanes – like Sandy and Katrina, and natural disasters at large are all consequences of natural variability. And that, consequently, there’s nothing for us to do about it.

Activists in Times Square By Flickr User 350.org (CC).

For those affected by Sandy, however, there are no doubts. And they want to see climate change become an audible public policy issue once again, one where the world’s major global players and emerging economies have a prominent role to play. This picture of a group of activists from New York’s Times Square sums up the current reality very effectively; a telling image from one of the States most severely hit by the Superstorm, calling for an end to Climate Silence.

If you feel like you have something to say too, this Conference will be a great opportunity for you to do so. Covering a wide range of themes, on climate change and beyond, we will keep you up to speed on the proceedings. Follow us on Twitter, where we’ll be covering the Conference using hashtags: #climatechange & #environment.

Now that the world realizes just how calamitous our climate can be, it becomes imperative that we share our thoughts with one another on the issue to bring us all one step closer to a global consensus.

Kstar: Views, hopes, fears, and next steps

So the Kstar conference 2012 comes to an end?…. Or is it just the beginning?! What stood out for you? Where should we be going next? Over the past three days we’ve gathered your views and insight, which are all brought together in this collection of videos:

Academics need to find their place in the new ‘open knowledge society’

In this video Peter Moll (International Analyst and Consultant) talks about the emergence of the ‘open knowledge society’ and what this means for academic researchers. Moll believes that academics have to move away from holding the view that their knowledge is superior to other forms. He says that linear views of knowledge that tend to dominate within the academic community need to be replaced by a more dynamic understandings of how knowledge operate in the open knowledge society.

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