Luxor — The Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation in Egypt Christian Berger visited today Qena and Luxor governorates in Upper Egypt to witness the sustained impact of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) EU-funded project "Enhancing Access to Education and Fighting Child Labour".
The €60 million project, implemented from 2014-2019 by 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, supported women's economic empowerment and improved communal awareness on key areas such as nutrition, agriculture, child labour and risks of irregular migration.
Leveraging the results and experience achieved through the EU-WFP project, WFP in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Technical Education, continued to provide an integrated package of interventions to community one-classroom schools and equipping them with 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.
While touring the multi-grade community schools in both governorates, the delegation engaged with teachers and students who spoke of the transformative impact this enhanced means of education had on their lives, wellbeing and future.
"It is great to see the impressive outcome of our joint cooperation with WFP in this project that has positively impacted the lives of thousands of children and women across Egypt. The European Union supports 16 Governorates including Luxor and Qena through the 'Enhancing Access to Education and Fighting Child Labour' project, to help children, especially girls, to go to community schools instead of going to work," said Berger. "With a €60 million 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 a around then. This is done in close cooperation with our partners, especially the Government of Egypt. Our joint efforts have proven to be sustainable and are making a great difference in the communities," he added.
The delegation also saw how WFP in close coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation (MALR), is utilizing schools as knowledge hubs to familiarize smallholders with climate-smart farming techniques that minimize crop losses and increase yields.
Building on local expertise, WFP and the Ministry are increasing the farmers' resilience and their livelihoods through the introduction of sustainable agricultural and irrigation practices as well as supporting the economic empowerment of rural women with in-kind animal loans.
Berger also met with women who have started their own income-generating projects allowing them to increase their household's incomes, build their self-confidence and support their children's education and nutrition. More than 50,000 women received entrepreneurial and vocational trainings under the EU-WFP joint project, of which 10,000 have launched and are currently sustaining their own income-generating projects through an ongoing revolving loan mechanism managed by partner non-governmental organizations.
Currently, the Government of Egypt and WFP are scaling up their joint support to vulnerable communities to reach a total of 500 villages by 2023 aligning with the Presidential initiative 'Decent Life' which aims to support a total of 1,500 villages in Egypt.
"I am very proud of the strong partnership we have built over the years with the EU, the results of which we have continued to foster and are still able to witness to this day. Together we have worked on changing the lives of many vulnerable families in Egypt through two key elements: empowerment and sustainability," said WFP Representative and Country Director in Egypt Menghestab Haile. "Today more than ever, as the entire world struggles to deal with the negative impact of the 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-centered rural development approach."
The EU is one of 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.