The work of AICS Cairo focuses on eight priority areas, under which initiatives are funded through the grants and credit mechanisms.
- Rural development
AICS Cairo's portfolio in the rural development sector is extensive, amounting to more than € 14 million. In this sector, Italy's commitment is highly recognized and appreciated As a demonstration of such recognition, since 2015 Italy has assumed the role of coordinator, together with FAO, of the thematic platform in agriculture and rural development that brings together donors in Egypt (Development Partners Group).
The initiatives promoted pay particular attention to the main supply chains in the country in order to improve the quality of production and encourage the export of local products, and to enhance the country's agricultural mechanization systems.
Two initiatives are being implemented with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). The first one aims to develop the Egyptian cotton supply chain, promoting sustainability and inclusion along its value chain, while strengthening the premium quality of Egyptian cotton and fostering new market opportunities. The second one supports the tomato supply chain, and aims to increase the processing value chain by improving the technical skills of young people, expanding their employment opportunities.
Through counterpart funds generated by the Food Aid program, the project "Strengthening the Value Chain of Siwa Date Production" was launched with the creation of a PGI label that aims to increase the marketing potential of the date palm in the Siwa Oasis and sustainably improve the socioeconomic conditions of local communities.
Finally, with the Ministry of Agriculture and Reclamation, the "SAMSIMIFA" project, financed with an aid credit of €10 million, enables the improvement of agricultural mechanization systems in the governorates of Minya and Fayoum, and consequently contributes to the improvement of national food security.
- Economic development
With a portfolio of about €66 million, the Italian Cooperation aims to promote sustainable economic development in Egypt through support to the private sector, especially micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and startups, as well as through the transfer of know-how in those industrial sectors where Italy can provide added value, such as leather, marble and wood.
Two credit-financed initiatives address the problem of access to credit and financing for local MSMEs and startups. The first initiative, with a budget of €12.6 million, provides a line of credit managed by the Egyptian Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency (MSMEDA), through which loans are offered to local MPMIs with favorable interest rates, to be used both for the purchase of machinery and equipment and for technical assistance and training services. A second aid credit, totaling €45 million, provides for the activation of credit lines totaling €36 million for local MPMIs, a Venture Capital fund of €5 million, and technical assistance activities for local MPMIs and startups.
Finally, two grant-funded initiatives offer technical assistance to the country's industrial districts. In this regard, the € 6 million grant program for the company running the "Robbiki Leather City" (RLC) industrial park, directly managed by the AICS Cairo Headquarters, is ongoing, while a new program for the development of the leather, wood, and marble industrial districts, worth € 3 million, has been approved.
- Social development
AICS Cairo has always been committed to protecting the rights of the most vulnerable segments of the population, including minors and women at risk, people with disabilities, and migrants.
In this framework, the project "Promotion of Children's Rights and Family Empowerment in the Governorate of Fayoum" continues in collaboration with the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM). The program aims to ensure the protection of the rights of children and their families, starting with the reduction of practices such as female genital mutilation, early marriages, early school dropouts, child labor, non-registration at birth, and maternal and child malnutrition.
A program called "Restorative approach to juvenile justice: socio-educational models of social reintegration and alternative measures to detention," which promotes the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the National Law on the Rights of the Child on Juvenile Justice, is also being implemented. UNICEF, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and AICS Cairo have joined efforts to support Egypt in implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the National Juvenile Justice Law. Specifically, the partners are contributing to four macro outcomes under the project: promoting amendments to the national restorative justice law; improving coordination among various actors involved in the sector; providing support for the reintegration of children in conflict with the law; and training national experts to improve the juvenile justice sector in Egypt.
Finally, three initiatives, on inclusion of people with disabilities, combating the worst forms of child labor, and promoting alternative forms of care for minors, respectively, were deliberated for a total budget of €4.65 million.
The gender approach cross-cuttingly characterizes the programs funded or directly implemented by AICS Cairo. The intent is to support Egypt in its journey towards building a more inclusive and gender-sensitive society through projects on women's empowerment and combating gender-based violence, as defined in the Egyptian National Strategy for Women's Empowerment 2030.
Within this framework, the project "Enhancing the Role of Women in Southern Egypt," managed by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), aims to socially and economically empower women in the target areas of Assiut and Sohag, particularly women in rural and marginalized locations. The project incorporates economic and social dimensions and brings together different actors, both at the community and government levels, involving women's rights organizations and community leaders as agents of change. The social empowerment component aims to ensure that women in the focus areas have better access to gender-responsive services and actively participate in public life; while the economic empowerment component aims to foster their financial inclusion through support to the national initiative of the NCW and the Central Bank of Egypt and to strengthen existing women-led enterprises in the area through increased participation in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and productive clusters.
The program "Surrounded and Engaging Platforms Campaign: Innovative Outreach Approach to Address Population Growth in Egypt" also continues, aimed at addressing the challenge of population growth, through which the Italian Cooperation is supporting the Egyptian government in the implementation of the National Population and Development Strategy 2015-2030 and the National Action Plan for Family Development, in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The intervention entails an innovative outreach approach consisting of an educational campaign that combines the production of a TV series with community mobilization activities on the ground, and improved reproductive health services.
- Migration and development
The Italian Cooperation's migration and development strategy in Egypt aims primarily at engaging diasporas in local development initiatives, protecting and socioeconomic empowerment of migrants, and addressing the root and structural causes of irregular migration.
A new program, titled "PLAY - Positive Living Alternatives for Egyptian Youth," also entrusted to IOM, is being launched and aims to promote job opportunities in the tourism sector for young Egyptians and raise awareness regarding the risks of irregular migration. Specifically, the intervention will strengthen the capacities of national authorities in terms of human development policy-making in tourism while implementing actions to maximize the potential of existing vocational education and training institutions in this sector. An analysis of the profile of Egyptian youth at risk of irregular migration will be conducted to assess existing skills, knowledge and competencies. Based on the mapping results, a holistic intervention aimed at improving value chains with high job creation potential will be designed, for which Egyptian youth will be trained on specific skills.
In the education sector, the project "Supporting the Improvement of Nursing Care in Four Governorates in Egypt" entered its third year of implementation in 2022. The initiative, which is the second phase of an already satisfactory previous phase, sees the contribution of the University of Sassari and the Ministry of Health and Population in support of the Ministry's Department of Nursing efforts to improve the initial and continuing training capacity of nursing staff in the governorates of Port Said, Sharm el Sheikh, Luxor and Ismailia.
The "Water Knowledge" initiative is being launched and will be funded through the multilateral channel and implemented by the Agronomical Mediterranean Institute of Bari (CIHEAM) for a duration of two years with the aim of improving the managerial and technical capacity of water resource workers in Egypt and the Region.
In this sector, the Italian Cooperation, in collaboration with the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency of the Egyptian Ministry of the Environment, continues its support in environmental protection through the Egyptian-Italian Environmental Cooperation Program (EIECP) through the promotion of sustainable natural resource management mechanisms and the promotion of protected areas through the engagement of the local communities.
Additionally, the Commodity Aid-funded initiative titled "Community Development Involved in Waste Management in May 15 City" implemented by the Ministry of Construction and Urban Planning aims to empower the community of "Zabaleen," or informal recyclers in Cairo's May 15 City, which is among the most discriminated against and poor, and is plagued by major urban planning, health and educational problems, such as the lack of basic services, sewage systems, schools and health centers.
- Culture and tourism
The Italian Cooperation in Egypt supports the local counterparts in environmental protection and preservation and promotion of historical, archaeological and cultural heritage.
In detail, a project has been launched to rehabilitate the collection of the Cairo Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), which was damaged in 2014. The MIA is considered one of the most important in the world for its exceptional collection of rare objects made of wood, plaster, metal, ceramics, glass, crystal, and textiles. The Ministry of Antiquities and the implementing agency, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have selected three other museums to participate in the project, in addition to the MIA, namely The National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC), the Gayer Anderson Museum, and the El Manial Palace Museum. This network of museums will benefit from theoretical and "on-the-job" trainings in museum management and restoration. In addition, the project includes the restoration and exhibition of emblematic objects. As for the communication and visibility part, the initiative will support the use of digital technologies and the creation of a mobile application and a social media page to promote the Islamic art collections of the selected museums.
In addition, an initiative entitled "Supporting and Promoting the Protection of Egyptian Cultural Heritage through the Preservation of the Ramesside Tomb of Tell El Maskhuta" has been funded through the Commodity Aid and its activities will start soon.