Free Again: The Story of Wahiba from Syria as part of the Regional programme : “Assistance to and Empowerment of Syrian Refugee Women and girls and vulnerable women and girls of Host Communities in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon”

This regional propgramme, funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) for a total amount of six million Euro, aims at protecting and empowering the Syrian refugee women and girls and those of vulnerable host communities in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.

This Programme specifically focuses on sexual and reproductive health and rights and socio-economic empowerment. Its operational structure includes two multi-bilateral components, implemented respectively by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN-ESCWA), and a bilateral component implemented by two Italian civil society organisation active in the three countries, namely Oxfam and ARCS, in partnership with local organizations.

The three components which will be implemented in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon are described below:

  1. Response to Gender-based violence and Sexual and Reproductive health and rights of women and girls affected by the Syria crisis in Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon
  2. Women socio-economic empowerment
  3. Women participation in the decision-making process

Please find below two stories from the beneficiaries' point of view related to the first component of the project implemented by UNFPA in Egypt.

Free Again: The Story of Wahiba from Syria

Among the participants was her mother witnessing her success while she confidently started the training

Wahiba is a 30 years old Syrian girl. She came to Egypt in 2017. She graduated from the school of business at Ain Shams University where her suffering from nationality-based discrimination started.

A failure, this is how she was usually looked at in comparison to her Egyptian peers in the same workplace. She was working in a toxic environment where her employer burdened her with massive amounts of workload over a long period of time in exchange of a low salary. She was expected to submissively accept the situation out of her urgent need to find a job to be able to financially provide for herself. This was not the end of it, as Wahiba also suffered from incidents of harassment both at work and in public transportations. These incidents intimidated her to the extent that she quit her job and became terrified to go outside of the safety of her house.

Having heard of the activities taking place in Sanad, the safe space project implemented by Etijah in partnership with the UNPA to provide a healthy and safe environment for community people and refugees in Haram and New Damietta, Wahiba participated in the storytelling workshop which was a sort of a safety zone for her where she was able to share her own story. She then took part in Sanad’s bazar by exhibiting her own handmade crochet products and accessories. In addition to this, Wahiba managed to participate in Care International facilitation training by the support of one of Sanad’s case workers.

Now, Wahiba moderates her own workshops around Gender-Based Violence (GBV), where she raises the community’s awareness around issues of GBV, as she has become confident in her abilities. “Without Sanad, I would have been the prisoner of my own thoughts. Thanks to Sanad I am free again,” says Wahiba.


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Luca Maestripieri’s, AICS director, visit to Egypt from June 15th until June 18th

Cairo, Egypt- Luca Maestripieri, director of “The Italian Agency for Development Cooperation” (AICS) is currently in Egypt from Saturday June 15th, 2019 until June 18th where he visited several AICS’s financed projects in the country and confirm Italy’s role as Egypt’s strategic partner. The Italian Cooperation in Egypt is present since twenty years, and it has a  portfolio of around 250 Million of Euros of on-going programmes.

Maestripieri  Maestripieri met with Governmental officials to stress on the importance of the Italian-Egyptian relations. He also met with representatives of the European Union, important development partner. Maestripieri is  accompanied during his meetings and field visits by Felice Longobardi, head of AICS Cairo and AICS team. Maestripieri’s visit to Egypt that lasted  for four days, comes at the beginning of his first tour to the agency’s countries offices since his appointment as the new head of AICS in May 2019.

On Sunday June 16th, Maestripieri met with the representatives of the Italian NGOs to discuss the activities taking place, the perspectives on challenges and opportunities for non-governmental organizations in Egypt, as well as the country’s ongoing process to revise the NGOs law. Maestripieri also met as well with representatives of the European Union- Joint Rural Development Programme that is managed technically and financially by AICS under the European Neighborhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD), to stand upon the latest achievements of the programme that is running in Matrouh, Minya & Fayoum. The programme aims at improving the quality of life of the people living in the rural areas of the three governorates while focusing on the sustainable management of local resources.

On June 17th, AICS Director Maestripieri visited El Fayoum Governorate where he met the governor Dr. Esam Saad and he had the opportunity to visit the following AICS's funded projects:

• “Empowering Women in Fayoum Rural Areas” (EWFRA) financed under the Italian-Egyptian Debt Swap Programme and implemented by the Fayoum Agro Organic and Development Association (FAODA) in  Behmo village . The project targets unemployed household women and girls, with the aim of promoting women empowerment, enhancing the socio- economic status of rural families and achieving women’s economic development.

• “EU-Joint Rural Development Programme (EU-JRDP)”. The programme, using a partecipatory  approach and worth 22 million Euro, is financed by the European Union and it is implemented by MAECI-DGCS with the technical support of AICS Il Cairo.  AICS Director visited two components of the programme,  the infrastructure works  in the irrigation canal of baher biahmou  and  Improving on-farm irrigation in Fayoum (Bahr Biahmou and  Awlad Mohamed areas).

• Maestripieri ended his tour in Fayoum Governorate by visiting the Italian funded project “Support to the Egyptian Protected Areas” (SEPA) that is implemented by the UNDP and aims at strengthening the system of the Protected Areas of Egypt, developing sustainable tourism, promoting world-class parks, enhancing the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, and acting as an instrument for the socio-economic sustainable development of the local communities.

In his last day (june 18th), Maestripieri visited Robbiki project, directly implemented by AICS Il Cairo. The initiative aims to support the Training and Services Center built within the Robbiki Leather City - RLC in organizing and launching its training and support activities for tanners through the supply of equipment and through specialized technical assistance from part of Italian experts.


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First Stone Event as part of the Project “Strengthening business environment for the eco-touristic development of New Valley Governorate”implemented by the Italian NGO CISS

Kargha  Oasis, New Valley Governorate. On March 31th 2019 a Delegation from the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation in Egypt (AICS Cairo) chaired by Dr. Felice Longobardi, Head of AICS in Cairo, participated to opening of the Micro Small Enterprise Incubator as part of the Italian Egyptian Debt Swap Programme (EIDS-Phase III)  funded project " Strengthening business environment for the eco-touristic development of New Valley Governorate" implemented by the Italian NGO CISS. This project built up from another project implemented by CISS in 2012 funded by the EIDS (phase II) called “Eco-tourism to promote a sustainable Development in the New Valley Governorate” which contributed to establish the Kargha Handcraft Center, an hub where local people can produce and market their products and tourism can find information about the cultural sites in the Governorate.

The new project aims at strengthening the social and economic role of women and young people in New Valley by income generating activities strictly related to local needs and natural resources availability. The project contributes to solve the structural weaknesses of local economy and the fragility of the labor market of New Valley by providing vocational training for promoting social inclusion policy and implementing a micro-small enterprises incubator for women and young people related to potential local eco-tourism’s economic sectors (handicraft, organic farming and ecotourism services) and supporting them with a marketing and communication plan. The project responds to the local needs of improving employment’s skills, awareness on the importance of tourist environment, sustainable agriculture and traditional handicrafts, awareness on gender issue and youth participation in the community development, awareness on MSME's role and how to access loans.

The event was chaired by  H. E. Mohammed Salman Mousa Al-Zamlout, Governor of the New Valley Governorate  who invited the Italian Cooperation to keep supporting the area with more projects, especially in the agro-business and Eco-tourism sector.

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Inauguration of the solar powered water lifting plant for irrigation in El-Souria site in Beheira Governorate part of the regional project “Coping with water scarcity” financed by AICS and implemented by FAO

Al  Beheria Governorate -  On  January 31th 2018, Dr. Longobardi, head of the Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development in Cairo, together with the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation H.E. Mohamed Abdel-Ati, and Mr. Hussein Gadain Country Representative for FAO Egypt inaugurated the solar powered water lifting plant for irrigation in El-Souria site in Beheira Governorate part of the regional project “Coping with Water Scarsity- the role of agriculture in strengthening national capacities” financed by AICS and implemented by FAO.

This programme  is a flagship program for cooperation between Italy and FAO. This project is implemented in Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt to run activities in line with piloting water lifting in the Delta using solar energy from solar panel-covered canals.

The main objectives of the proposed piloting are to improve agriculture water management in the Delta by reducing evaporation losses in canals and to provide a more sustainable source of energy for water lifting for irrigation. Its rationale is driven by the following reasons:

  • Irrigation canals in Egypt are generally below ground level, which makes pumping a must to deliver water to the fields.
  • Pumping for irrigation in the country has noticed drastic change to electricity to use in the recent decade.
  • Farmers are more vulnerable to electricity shortages, which are recently frequent, and
  • Land in the delta is costly, therefore the installation of solar panels in the fields is not seen as a viable option.

Project activities include:

  • Purchase and installation of solar equipment to cover irrigation canals,
  • Raise awareness amongst local farmers and Water User Associations (WUAs) to operate and maintain the system and on the benefits of the project, and
  • Build capacity of technical staff of Government/relevant stakeholders to maintain guidance to farmers and sustainability of intervention beyond project period.

Progress so far:

  • Installation /operation of a solar system in two sites (El-Afeer and El-Souria 5 and 6).
  • Strengthened local capacities on operation and maintenance of the new technique for the lifting of irrigation water from canals with a service provided by the MWRI/National Water Research Center.
  • Designed the canvas of Business Model to promote sustainable use of solar energy in irrigation in the Nile Delta with a service provided by the Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development.

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AICS Cairo representatives participated to the 4th Egyptian Date Palm Festival

Siwa – Siwa Oasis hosted on Nov. 7 the Dates Festival, which is an implemented program to promote date industry through the development of supply chains, focusing on modern technologies of transfer and application.  Two representative of AICS Cairo participated to the festival and presented the new approved project “Improve the value chain of Siwa Palm Date Production for Branding".

Siwa is one of Mother Nature’s masterpieces, located about 560 km from Cairo and stretching over 25 meters below sea level. It includes many palm trees meticulously grown between mud-brick homes and has a number of clear springs, lakes and rivers to help villagers escape from the harsh heat of the sun.

After the success of the first three editions of the festival, Siwa  hosted the fourth edition in 2018 from November 6-9, in cooperation with the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Secretary-General of the Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation Abdel Wahab Zayed said earlier that the UAE government will implement three projects for the production of dates in Egypt at total investments amounting to LE 40 million. The Italian cooperation in Egypt financed a project with an Italian NGOs on micro credit in 1999 and through the Egyptian Italian Environmental Cooperation Programme II phase (EIECP) that aimed at improving the governance of natural resources by empowering local communities and linking poverty and environmental management issues at the local level, such as the case of Siwa.  The Ministry of Trade through its Agro-Industry technological center will implement the new approved project in two year.

The above-mentioned initiative will focus its activities on:

  • Enhance the palm date production and processing chain;
  • Enhance marketing chain at both National and International levels;
  • Register a new unified brand for Siwa date.

The objectives of the project will include a package of activities that will be implemented mainly in the field through using modern agricultural machinery and high-level technical support to the small and medium farmers and the processing factories in Siwa. It is worth to mention that the project will be realized within a full participatory approach includes all levels of Siwa Community, and all concerned Governmental bodies in order to insure its success and reach its planed outcomes.

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Cairo Water Week – The Egyptian minister of Water Resources and Irrigation meets the Italian Ambassador in Cairo, the Head of Italian Cooperation in Cairo and an Italian Delegation from CIHEAM and Hydroaid

Cairo- On October 15th, as part of the Cairo Water Week, the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resource and Irrigation (MWRI) meets the Italian Ambassador in Cairo H.E. Gianpaolo Cantini, the head of the Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development (AICS), and a delegation from CIHEAM-BAri and Hydroaid.

During the meeting the ministry confirmed his cooperation and support to the Italian cooperation in Cairo and endorsed with enthusiasm the new formulation of two projects.  The first one entitled "Water Knowledge" aims  to contribute to foster a sustainable management and common shared vision of water resources use in Egypt and in the region.  The Specific Objective is to enhance the managerial and technical skills of water operators in Egypt and in the region.

The results are as follows:

R.1 The physical and technical infrastructure and equipment of the RTSWRI is enhanced to host an innovative water training services hub in the region;

R.2 The RTSWRI Training system quality in the water field is improved respectively in terms of teaching methodologies and managerial skills for trainers and knowledge/leadership acquisition for trainees (operators from national and regional ministries and new national employees

This initiative will be implemented by CIHEAM-Bari and Hydroaid in close collaboration with the Regional Training Sector for water Resources and Irrigation (RTSWRI) and  the National Water Research Center (NWRC).

The second one called "integrated local Development in South Sinai” has a water management component that aims to support the management, in sustainable way, the scarce water resources of the area. The project will select one wadi subject to flash flood to be developed through the following activities:

  • Harvesting flash rain water floods;
  • Improve and maximize the use of the natural resources (Water and soil);
  • Create job opportunities and generate income to the vulnerable Bedouin;
  • Protect the infrastructure and the properties of the Bedouin from the flash flood damages;
  • Conserve the environment

The implementing partner is the National Water Research Center.



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Development partners meet to bring forward innovation in accessibility for people with disabilities

Cairo - On October 8th 2018 a technical expert from AICS Cairo participated to a development partner group meeting on innovation in People with disability's accessibility organized by the United Nations representative in Cairo and the Swiss Cooperation Agency.

At the meeting was present also Dr. Nevine Elkabagg, Deputy Minister of Social Solidarity and Dr. Heba Hagrass, member of the Egyptian Parliament who presented  the new elements of the new law on People with disabilities in Egypt issued in February 2018.  This new law (n.10, 2018) is enhancing the role and right of people with disabilities in society through a human right approach that seeks  to transform the vision that society has on PWDs only as  people that need to take care of to  primarily actors of their own life and personal development by allowing them to have access to rights and services (improve access to education , employability and health).

Dr. Nevine Elkabagg, Deputy Minister of Social Solidarity presented the new institutional strategy that the MoSS is implementing in the country  in order to apply the recent approved law. Specifically, She highlighted  that  MoSS  will  apply the reform in 640   care centers where PWDs  will have access to  a community based inclusive social services .

This meeting was important to share information and knowledge between  all stakeholders involved in this thematic , and in specific for AICS-Cairo to gain  helpful insights  to finalize the project document on PWDs in Egypt  that is planning to start in 2019 .The initiative seeks to confirm the principles endorsed in the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities (PWDs) and reaffirmed by the recent promulgation of the Law on PWDs (20.02.2018). The specific objective is to promote human rights of persons with disabilities through the strengthening of the National Council for Disabilities Affairs (NCDA) and promotion of interinstitutional dynamics and concrete actions to foster social inclusion. Concretely, it seeks to elaborate strategic action plans, policies, programmes, and on-the-ground actions, with an approach focused on the rights of PWDs which is two-fold: specific activities/policy mainstreaming.  As a policy component, the project will support the NCDA, the entity mandated to foster, coordinate, and oversee the human rights of persons with disabilities, to be able to mainstream issues concerning PWDs across all Ministries, international/local non-governmental entities, media, and any other relevant partners.   As a field component, in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Solidarity (MoSS), a pilot-project will improve integral services (health, education, cultural, recreational, family/community services) in two governorates that will serve as a model for the reform of the over 640 existing care centers spread across the country.

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It’s cotton harvest time, in the framework of an AICS funded project aimed at supporting the cotton value chain in Egypt

Damietta- Under the framework of ‘The Egyptian Cotton Project’,  AICS delegation partecipated to the  “The Cotton Harvest Day”, holt by UNIDO (implemeting agency of this AICS funded project) for the first time in Damietta Governorate on 30th September, 2018. The harvest day celebrates the first cycle of successful conventional and organic cotton cultivation, resulting in premium quality long staple and extra-long staple Egyptian cotton.

The harvest day  presented a series of demonstrative activities on cotton cultivation and harvest, showcasing the successful first round of premium quality cotton produced. This celebration served  to promote global partnerships by bringing together representatives throughout the cotton value chain.

The harvest day welcomed a number of key stakeholders including Governor of Damietta Manal Mikhail, Dr. Adel Abdel Azim representative of Ministry of Agriculture, representatives of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, as well as the head of Italian Agency for Development Cooperation in Egypt, international investors and renown cotton value chain representatives in the textile industry.

The Egyptian Cotton project implemented by UNIDO leverages on “Cottonforlife” CSR initiative by Filmar S.p.A., in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation and textile private sector representatives; and is funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation.

Aiming to advance competitiveness and demand by international markets, the Egyptian Cotton project prioritizes aspects of sustainability, inclusiveness and value addition of the Egyptian long-staple and extra-long staple cotton value chain.

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Head of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation in a Field Visit to the Robbiki Leather City

Robbiki- A delegation from the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) office in Cairo paid a visit to Robbiki Leather City (RLC) on Wednesday 26-9-2018 presided by Dr. Felici Longobardi, head of AICS Cairo. The aim of the visit was to witness the progress of the work in the RLC in order to proceed with the Technical Assistance to Implement the “ROBBIKI LEATHER CITY – RLC” Relocation Project (PMU/AICS). AICS delegates took a tour inside the Leather Tanning Technology Center, the General Effluent Treatment Plant, and the Chrome Recovery Plant and paid visits to the biggest tanneries and suppliers of chemical products as well.

During the visit, AICS team was able to hear from the tanners about their daily experiences in the city as well as their needs to develop their work techniques.  At the end of the day, AICS team attended a meeting with Yasser El Maghrabi, advisor to the Minister of Trade and Industry and CEO of Cairo for Investment and Development to know the exact kind of technical assistance they will need so that the project would bring the maximum benefit to the leather processing industry in Egypt.

Summary of the project 

The Program specific objective is: ToSupport the relocation of the tanneries to RLC through technical assistance for the realization of technical and business plans that the entrepreneurs need to organize their resettlement in the new industrial zone, and to undertake the CID and  LTTC to start the service activities.To reach the mentioned objective, the following activities will be implemented though four components of the Program:


    1. Component 1: Support the one stop shop (or one stop desk) as a point of reference for enterprises in the district, which must be able to provide a number of technical advisory services on various important aspects for the economy of the individual undertakings in respect of the management environmental and financial and technical plans to support the relocation.
    2. Component 2: Technical assistance for the startup of the management of the new CETP, the common system of waste water treatment and solid waste disposal.
    3. Component 3: Technical assistance for the organization of the technological center, the LTTC, providing for the training of trainers and supporting to start up the quality services with quality laboratories, as well as the tanning sharing service (TSS), or “Leather Services”, leather processing and maintenance service to the stakeholders, and the setup of a Vocational Training provider to develop skills for worker based on level 2 of the National Qualification Framework in Egypt.
    4. Component 4: Provision of necessary equipment for the execution of the LTTC services with the necessary laboratories and pilot plant

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Creating safe environments for vulnerable youth in areas at risk of irregular migration and trafficking

Kafr el Sheikh - In the framework of the project “Creating a protective environment for vulnerable adolescents in governorates with high risks of irregular migration and child trafficking” funded by the Italian Cooperation and implemented by UNICEF, at the beginning of September AICS staff paid a field visit to different urban and rural areas in Cairo and Egypt’s Delta where vulnerable Egyptian and non-Egyptian communities are based.

Skills development training and psycho-social support for adolescents, as well as positive parenting sessions with parents and awareness raising activities on the risks associated with irregular migration are the main activities implemented by UNICEF Egypt, in collaboration with Ngo Terre des Hommes and local partners.

Among several beneficiaries of the project, AICS staff met children living in a Family Center in Gamasa, a village in the Dakahleya governorate with a high number of Syrian families.



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