IFAD in Egypt
Egypt is IFAD's largest recipient of financial assistance in the Near East and North Africa and was one of the first countries in the world to receive financing from IFAD. IFAD has committed almost US$323 million in loans to Egypt since 1981 to support agricultural development and reduce rural poverty. So far about 5 million poor rural people have benefited from this support.
IFAD has invested in 11 agricultural development programmes and projects designed by the organization in collaboration with rural people, the government and other partners. Programmes and projects address poverty by supporting activities with the aim of improving the incomes and living conditions of small-scale farmers and their communities, and of influencing public policy on land tenure and other land settlement systems.
IFAD's first operations in Egypt were guided by a strategy developed in 1979 that supported two of the government's priorities in the agricultural sector: increasing productivity in the oldlands (the Nile Valley and Delta and their desert fringes) and promoting the settlement of smallholders in the newlands (desert land located in the north-west coastal area of Egypt). Seven of these projects have been completed and three are ongoing.
Two of the more recent projects support the government's considerable investments in reclaiming large areas of newlands for distribution to poor and disadvantaged people. These projects provide post-settlement and agricultural support services that are crucial to the establishment of viable farming. Their main objectives are to:
- Adapt technologies from Egypt's agricultural research efforts in the oldlands to conditions in the newlands
- Improve water-use efficiency and sustainability of irrigation systems
- Increase the focus on off-farm enterprises
- Support formal and rural finance institutions in providing financial services to small-scale farmers in the newlands
- Support marketing and agro-processing.
In Upper Egypt IFAD's operations continue to support improved production, participatory approaches to rural infrastructure and decentralization. Through two technical assistance grants, both with a focus on gender, IFAD fosters women's empowerment. A US$59,5000 grant was associated with the Sohag Rural Development Project, and a US$71,100 grant supporting women's empowerment was part of the East Delta Newlands Agricultural Services Project. Among other things, grant-supported activities have made it easier for women to obtain the identity cards that allow them to gain access to services and to vote.
IFAD's strategy in Egypt
IFAD supports the Government of Egypt's efforts to improve the social and economic well-being of rural poor people. Collaboration with the government has found a new stimulus in the recent revival of the country's growth and its interest in reforms. IFAD's programme in Egypt, as outlined in the new Result-based COSOP (Country Strategic Opportunities Programme) and in accord with national strategy, has the objective of creating rural employment and generating income for rural poor people. It will focus on the poorest, southern parts of Upper Egypt, scaling up successful approaches used in earlier projects and grants and promoting pilot initiatives involving rural microfinance to create off-farm employment and increase incomes.
IFAD's strategy includes pioneering innovative methods of technology generation and transfer, and actively involving rural poor people in sustaining project benefits.
The programme includes a focus on:
- Encouraging private sector development and enhancing agricultural competitiveness
- Promoting innovative research and extension systems that respond to the need of small farmers and rural women
- Developing opportunities for linkages with other donors and institutions, and playing a greater role in development through the participation of the IFAD country presence manager
- Fostering policy dialogue on decentralization, participatory water resources management and rural microfinance
- Improving IFAD's portfolio of investments by assessing needs, improving monitoring and intensifying support for implementation
- Setting up a tentative financing framework and a rolling work programme
- Providing grants to support participation and building the capacity of local staff to address gender issues.
IFAD's new programme places stronger emphasis on gender aspects of poverty and supports a stronger empowerment agenda for rural women. As part of its new strategy, the organization will continue to work with the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation but will involve other partners, including other government ministries, NGOs, commercial banks and microfinance institutions, bilateral organizations, United Nations agencies and the private sector.