World Bank loans $12 million to Bedouin communities in Egypt
The World Bank has approved a $12 million loan for community-driven development programs and natural resource management for Egypt’s Bedouin communities. The assistance is expected to improve the livelihoods of some 230,000 Bedouins along Egypt’s northwestern frontier.
The loan will finance Matruh Resource Management II (MRM II), the second phase of an ongoing project that supports the Government of Egypt’s initiative to fight rural poverty in the Matruh governorate.
The project mobilizes local communities to organize themselves to access basic services, raise their living standards and increase their income while conserving and using their natural resources in a sustainable manner. An estimated 74 percent of the poor in Egypt live in rural areas.
Water scarcity and land degradation have emerged as major challenges for the Bedouin population who have shifted from a nomadic lifestyle to settlement in communities over the last few decades. Erratic rainfall and wind erosion, combined with increased human and animal pressure on a fragile ecosystem and an arid climate have created a cycle of environmental degradation and human poverty.
About 80 percent of the 22,000 households in the project area live below the poverty line. Poverty is also exacerbated by the limited government services in health and education and scant work opportunities outside the agricultural sector.
Drawing upon the traditional tribal structure of the Bedouins, MRM II will provide support to representatives of tribal clans in designing their community action plans and setting their priorities for resource allocation — ensuring at the same time that women take part in the planning process. Women and girls will have access to literacy classes and health sensitization programs near their homes.
The natural resource management component of the project will tackle water shortage through a program of water harvesting (cisterns) and watershed management. It will also help communities develop grazing schemes that will allow animals to graze without destroying plant life. The biodiversity component will engage the Bedouin communities in the protection of endangered species and natural habitats, and establish two of the four protected areas that the Government of Egypt has identified for the region.
Another component will engage the local communities to participate in road construction to pave feeder roads. MRM II will introduce new sources of livelihoods which Bedouin women can integrate into their daily lives, producing quality traditional handicrafts for niche markets and processed almonds, dried figs and pickled olives. A pilot micro-finance scheme will be launched to improve the communities access to credit to expand their income-generating activities.
The six-year project falls in line with the World Bank’s country assistance strategy for Egypt, and would contribute to the Government of Egypt’s strategy to alleviate poverty and improve resource management in dryland areas. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)