Christian Berger, Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation in Egypt, visited Upper Egypt, on Wednesday, to review the sustained impact of the joint EU and UN World Food Programme (WFP) collaboration in Upper Egypt.
This saw Berger travel to the Qena and Luxor governorates in Upper Egypt to visit the EU-funded WFP project “Enhancing Access to Education and Fighting Child Labour”.
The €60m project, implemented between 2014 and 2019 by the WFP, in partnership with the Egyptian Government, supported rural communities in 16 of the most vulnerable governorates in Egypt.
The project has enhanced access and use of educational platforms, empowered teachers through continued trainings, improved child nutrition through school feeding, and supported women’s economic empowerment.
At the same time, it has also worked to improve communal awareness on key areas such as nutrition, agriculture, child labour, and the risks of irregular migration.
Leveraging the results and experience achieved through the joint project, the WFP has, in partnership with Egypt’s Ministry of Education and Technical Education, continued to provide an integrated package of interventions to community one-classroom schools.
It has also equipped them technological tools and internet connectivity, allowing them to serve as “Community Hubs” and service delivery platforms for students, teachers, parents and the community at large.
“With a €60m grant from the European Union, the community schools have become a key feature for the communities and are used as ‘Hubs’ to support community activities around then,” Berger said, “This is done in close cooperation with our partners, especially the Government of Egypt.”
He added, “Our joint efforts have proven to be sustainable and are making a great difference in the communities.”
The delegation saw how the WFP, in close coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation (MALR), is utilising schools as knowledge hubs. These are being used to familiarise smallholders with climate-smart farming techniques that minimise crop losses and increase yields.
Building on local expertise, the WFP and the ministry are increasing the farmers’ resilience and their livelihoods through the introduction of sustainable agricultural and irrigation practices. The joint collaboration also aims to support the economic empowerment of rural women with in-kind animal loans.
Currently, the Egyptian Government and WFP are scaling up their joint support to vulnerable communities, with the aim of reaching 500 villages by 2023. This aligns with the Presidential ‘Decent Life’ initiative, which aims to support a total of 1,500 villages across Egypt.
Menghestab Haile, WFP Representative and Country Director in Egypt, said, “Today, more than ever, as the entire world struggles to deal with the negative impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, I believe that we must all join hands to elevate some of the burdens that COVID-19 has had on millions of people by implementing a household-centred rural development approach.”
The EU is one of the WFP’s largest supporters in Egypt, and together the two agencies have jointly made a significant impact on the lives of vulnerable people in Egypt.
The EU and WFP joint project supported more than 2 million children in primary schools, including 120,000 students and their families in 4,500 community schools.
Economic empowerment opportunities were also provided to the mothers which positively affected the family dynamics to the benefit of the new generations.