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.).

Read more of this post

Media, an absolute core of equitable development

What is media? Why is it important? Can we live without it? What is its role in development?

In its simplest form, media is defined as the main means of mass communication (television, radio, and newspapers) regarded collectively; but I would say it is a functional organism that carries out specific roles in a society; the easiest and fastest way to get something done and without it, a nation can never survive!

No one can deny that media shapes our lives nowadays, since it spreads and disseminates information to a wider audience in no time. Egypt is undergoing a process of cautious transition in the media sector especially after the 25th of January revolution. The media, with specific reference to newspapers, radio, television, Internet (social media) and mobile platforms, play a crucial role in national development, which particularly aims at improving the political, economic and social lives of the people. These different forms of media have gained more popularity in the Egyptian market, but when referring to Upper Egypt, the case is not the same.

To elaborate more, the media depends on the societies in which they operate, and the audience they reach in order to have an impact and a role in development. However, none of these factors are the same everywhere, at all times, or under all conditions since every medium has a message and a target audience; aiming at influencing a change, attitudes, perceptions and decision-making.

Read more of this post

From a craftsman to a well-rounded strategic decision maker

Today, women and youth are ruling over the world and making their mark in various fields with their dedication and hard work to excel in their area of expertise, especially that the youth are the future, and one day will control the nation, but is this the case in Egypt? Well, a major area of concern in Egypt is the youth representing about 20% of Egypt’s total population, whereas rural youth account for 59% of Egypt’s total youth and representing 85% of Egypt’s poor youth (2009 Survey of Young People in Egypt – SYPE).  Further, female participation in the Egyptian labor market is among the lowest in the world since it is a highly gender-discriminated market, in which young women (aged 18 – 29) represent only 18.5% of the Egyptian workforce.

ENID is implementing a set of four highly integrated programs, each of which has the potential to impact on job creation and poverty reduction in both the medium and longer term. The first group of beneficiaries targeted by ENID programs is the youth and women segments of Upper Egypt society. We had the chance to interview Engineer Ayat Abdel Mooty, who is the Manager of Program A “Empowerment of Women and Youth”, during ENID’s first annual conference.

But what does “women empowerment” really stand for?

Read more of this post

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.

Read more of this post

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

Read more of this post

ENID: A Call for developing Upper Egypt

The Egypt Network for Integrated Development (ENID) is a five-year initiative to develop viable and sustainable development and employment opportunities in South Upper Egypt, where levels of poverty and unemployment are high. ENID is holding its first annual conference today December 14th 2013 at the Marriott hotel in Cairo, Egypt. The opening session was a very fruitful one with lots of guest speakers; Prof. Heba Handoussa (Managing Director of ENID), Ms. Anita Nirody (Resident Representative of UNDP), H.E. General Adel Labib (Minister of Local Development), H.E. Dr. Ashraf El Araby (Minister of Planning), H.E. Dr. Ziad Bahaa El-Din (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Cooperation), Ali Gomaa (Egypt’s former Mufti and Head of Board of Trustees in Misr El Kheir) and Abdel Hamid El Haggan (Qena Governor).

ENID's Opening Session - Pannelists

ENID’s Opening Session – Panelists

ENID work is intended to be of use for both policy formulation and program development in each of its program areas. The first point of focus is the Governorate of Qena in South Upper Egypt. One of the things ُENID should be accredited for is that a lot of the participants are from Upper Egypt; and outside the conference hall, they are presenting and selling some of the handmade products made by Upper Egypt residents.

Ali Gomaa was the first speaker, he highlighted that Misr El Kheir (charity organization)  allocate 80 percent of its donations to Upper Egypt since it is under-developed and always neglected, while 20 percent is allocated to the rest of the country.

Read more of this post