Rural development

First ILO Academy on Rural Development in Egypt

In an effort to promote decent work for rural youth, Egypt hosted the first ILO Rural Development Academy, in the city of Luxor from October 16-20, 2016.

Press release | 23 October 2016

Luxor, Egypt (ILO News) In an effort to promote decent work for Egypt’s rural youth, the ILO Cairo collaborated with the ILO International Training Centre in Turin, Italy (ITC-ILO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to host the third edition (outside the ITC-ILO and in South Africa) of the Rural Development Academy. The Academy was held for the first time in Egypt, in the city of Luxor from October 16-20, 2016.

With approximately 80 per cent of the world’s working poor living in rural areas, many are engaged in vulnerable employment, especially in agriculture and are unable to escape poverty despite the fact that they work. Egypt’s rural youth often face little prospects to prosper in profitable activities, with little or no knowledge on accessing markets, supply chains, finance and enterprise education. As a result, rural areas in Egypt have disproportionately high levels of unemployment, underemployment and poverty among youth.

The Rural Development Academy, led by the ILO, aimed to illustrate that there is considerable potential for economic growth, employment creation and promotion for decent work, if the right policies are in place. The Academy brought together over 150 participants including international, regional and local development experts for the first time in Egypt, including facilitators from ILO’s International Training Centre.

The activities of the Academy included four simultaneous study visits to innovative rural initiatives in Luxor, and various elective workshops covering topics that included rural innovation, green jobs, informality in the rural economy, and promoting gender equality and empowering young women in the rural economy.

The Academy was attended by a number of distinguished guests including Her Excellency, Dr Sahar Nasr- Minister of International Cooperation, His Excellency, Mr Mohamed Sayed Badr- Governor of Luxor, Ms Solveig Schuster- Counsellor and Head of Cooperation for Global Affairs Canada, Giovanna Ceglie- UNIDO representative, Dr Malika Martini- FAO representative, Dr Maya Morsy- President of the National Council for Women and Eng Atter Hanoura- Acting CEO of the Egyptian Countryside Development Company (ECDC).

In her opening speech, Dr. Sahar Nasr, Minister of International Cooperation, emphasized the importance of the Academy in signifying a focus on decent work and rural development for Upper Egypt.

Our presence here in Luxor delivers a very important message, as it confirms that we are focusing on Upper Egypt, and we are offering a very important program to enable youth to acquire the best jobs."

Minister Dr. Sahar Nasr

Likewise, the Governor of Luxor, Dr. Mohamed Badr highlighted his commitment to the development of Upper Egypt and the desire to pilot rural development projects in the governorate that can be scaled up.
“The governorate of Luxor is supportive of all the teams working on the ground in Luxor to achieve tangible results in the near future,” added Governor Badr, “We would like to provide a success story through our pilot project in one or two villages first and then hope to replicate such success on a wider scale.”

The Academy provided an opportunity to acquire expert information on national or regional contexts that have been tried and tested to provide participants with an opportunity to adopt a variety of integrated approaches, tools and training packages that contribute towards achieving an inclusive, sustainable and prosperous rural economy.

At the Academy, Mr. Peter van Rooij, Director of the ILO Cairo Office also stressed the importance of rural development in Egypt, particularly through decent work opportunities for young people.

“We need to focus on youth as the beacon of rural development here in Egypt, whose potential still remains much under-developed and under-used. For the ILO, enhancing decent work in the rural economy is one of 10 key outcomes to be achieved in 2016/2017, with Egypt being one of five priority countries for support in rural development,” said Mr Peter van Rooij.

“The Rural Development Academy is a great way of having experts from different countries come together to share the expertise that they have. There is a lot of work to be done, but there is also a lot of work that has been done already in Egypt and other countries, so through this Academy we are able to learn from each other and build on each others work to help rural development,” added Mr. Peter van Rooij.

International participant, Betsy Ings, from South Africa said she most benefited from the Rural Development Academy’s practical approach and study tours that were provided to participants.
“We were able to visit an integrated farming approach in the middle of the desert and what was so incredible is that 32 families were able to benefit that previously had very little income or no income at all. What we learnt from it is the integrated approach that they have,” stated Ms Ings.

The Academy also served as an opportunity for Global Affairs Canada and the ILO to announce and sign the extension of the “Decent Jobs for Egypt’s Young People Project” to include agricultural activities in the governorate of Luxor.

In her speech, the Counsellor and Head of Cooperation for Global Affairs Canada underscored the achievements of the ILO project in successfully creating job opportunities and enhancing youth employment and employability in the governorates of Minya, the Red Sea and Port Said since 2011.

“We are extremely pleased that the ILO project ‘Decent Jobs for Egypt’s Young People’ has made positive strides with our support towards improving the livelihoods for young men and women in rural areas and we are pleased to announce that these activities will also be extended to the Governorate of Luxor,” said Mrs Schuster.

The ILO also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Egyptian Countryside Development Company (ECDC) at the Academy with the aim to provide a framework for collaboration whereby ECDC will be supported in its mandate to execute Egypt’s national project of cultivating 1.5 million feddans across 16 locations in Egypt.