For over a decade, Aga Khan Development agencies and their partners have implemented a number of social programmes in Cairo’s Al-Darb Al-Ahmar district and the governorate of Aswan. Development programmes focus on increasing access to and quality of early childhood education; improving employment opportunities for the youth through industry relevant training; improving the quality of health; strengthening local community-focused civil society organizations (CSOs); and strengthening agricultural market systems. These programmes collectively serve as powerful catalysts for social change and renewed livelihoods in target areas.
Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programme
The Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme in Egypt focuses on improving the quality of existing childcare and kindergarten services, while also encouraging new ECD services for parents and children. The programme aims to promote the early stages of growth, so that children are physically and emotionally healthy, safe and secure, ready to learn, and equipped with the requisite social skills to interact with peers and adults.
As of 2013-2014, the ECD programme targets five areas of development. First, the initiative provides on-the-job training to preschool teachers and Ministry of Education (MoE) supervisors on topics of self-assessment, first-aid skills, developing school improvement plans, and mobilizing community participation in school activities. These training sessions have seen an average participation rate of 79 percent, while the training of supervisors alone has indirectly benefited all 350 governorate run kindergartens in Aswan. Second, the ECD programme conducts a Training of Trainers (TOT) for MoE supervisors, in order to strengthen their technical support capacity for targeted schools. In the past year, 11 MoE supervisors have been trained. Third, the ECD programme organizes summer camps for students, to aid them with the transition from home to preschool, as well as to raise awareness on the importance of ECD. The most recent phase of summer camps saw the participation of 227 children and 47 volunteers. Fourth, the ECD programme has worked to renovate four preschools, benefiting 308 students (52 percent of whom are girls) with amenities including upgraded classrooms, toilets, and playgrounds. Finally, ECD initiatives have engaged 141 mothers in parenting education programmes, which hone their skills in areas of child development, nutrition, child disciplining, and avoiding accidents at home. Overall, ECD access in programme villages has increased from 28percent in 2010 to 40 percent in 2014.
Moving forward, the ECD programme aims to continue supporting the parents – especially mothers – of children participating in target schools and activities. In addition, the programme will strive to maintain its capacity building initiatives and MoE liaison activities, reaching out to untapped districts in West Aswan to promote high quality education, wellness, and social development practices.
Continuing Education Programme (CEP)
The Continuing Education Programme (CEP) was launched by the Om Habibeh Foundation (OHF) in 2010. Based in Aswan, CEP aims to provide practical, industry-relevant training to unemployed and underemployed youth in the governorate.
In January 2012, CEP received funding from the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) USA, to continue and expand programme implementation for two years. Since then, CEP has focused on three objectives. First, the programme broadly seeks to improve the knowledge and skills of Aswan youth to increase their employability. This has been achieved through a series of English language and conversation trainings, courses in life skills (including time management, team building, CV writing, and job ethics), and ticketing training for youth working in airlines and in the travel industry. Second, in response to market demand in Aswan for accredited courses, CEP provides IT, management, vocational training and staff development classes to beneficiaries. Overall, CEP has seen a total of 1,854 individuals participate in all courses and trainings, with an impressive female enrolment rate of 67 percent. Finally, CEP exceeded its 10 percent target and linked 18.5 percent (or 114 out of 617 individuals) of unemployed youth to job and internship vacancies.
Moving forward, the programme will work towards strengthening its marketing efforts, as well as attempting to establish further industry links between Cairo and Aswan. Thus, CEP may effectively expand its efforts towards increasing youth employability in Egypt.
Aswan Nursing Programme
The Aswan Nursing Programme endeavors to improve nursing education, practice, and status in the governorate to enhance patient care practices across the governorate.
The Aswan Nursing Programme has three major areas of focus in this regard. The Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) project provides in-service and pre-service nurses with training in English, IT, quality management, leadership, basic life support (BLS), and infection control. The Nursing Services Improvement (NSI) initiative at the Aswan Teaching Hospital (ATH) supports the obstetrics and gynecology department in areas of maternal and child health (MCH), urinary catheterization, infection control, and patient rights. Since the commencement of NSI, quality assurance assessment standards at ATH improved from a baseline of 22 percent in 2008 to 42 percent in 2012. Finally, in seeking to enhance nursing practice and education in the Aswan governorate, the programme supports the Aswan University Faculty of Nursing (FoN) to conduct capacity building modules in areas of conversational English, quality assurance, and IT. Thus, the Aswan Nursing programme successfully provides all beneficiaries with industry relevant skills to improve overall healthcare performance in the governorate.
Civil Society Strengthening
The civil society units in Aswan have provided Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) with technical and financial support, while also working to strengthen civil society and government partnerships to deliver improved services and economic opportunities for communities.
In Aswan, the civil society unit implemented by OHF focuses on promoting civic engagement, community responsibility, capacity-building in community development agencies, and networking between organizations. Furthermore, in partnership with the Ford Foundation, OHF initiated the “Sharaka” programme in 2007, to strengthen partnerships between CSOs and local government institutions. To date, the programme has worked 20 civil society organizations within 14 located in Kom Ombo—the poorest district in Aswan. During this time, the initiative has also delivered 30 training courses, benefiting at least 500 CSO members and government officials. This has enabled CSOs to leverage significant funding from international donors, in-kind resources from local communities, and government contributions. As a result, the programme is on track to implement 22 projects, benefiting 20,000 community members through grants and 35,000 community members through training and capacity building.
The “Promoting Environment Friendly Agriculture Practices in Aswan” programme aims to improve the agricultural productive capacity of farmers, and to expand the use of environmentally sound agricultural practices. In this manner, the project aims to generate additional income for farming communities while improving the nutritional intake of families.
Between April and December 2014, the initiative has focused on three outcomes. First, in order to provide an enabling environment for farmers, the project has identified two new wholesalers in the Kom Ombo market, in addition to establishing two collection points. Second, the programme has offered a variety of trainings to stakeholders, including an advocacy workshop for 40 individuals (25 men and 15 women), and farming technique courses covering topics of composting methods, vegetable cultivation, biological controls, protected cultivation, and perforated pipes, for 300 farmer groups. Finally, to help farmers negotiate with local government bodies, OHF has continued to build a relationship with the Directorate of Agriculture and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is being drafted to form the basis of cooperation between both parties to support current and future OHF projects.
Aside from the aforementioned outcomes, the project has also contributed significantly to the inclusion of women in agriculture. As a result of women’s participation in exposure visits and agricultural activities, two CSOs, Selwa and Raghama, have female board members for the first time. Thus, in continuing agriculture activities in Aswan, the initiative strives to continue supporting this unprecedented participation by female citizens in programme activities.
Al-Darb Al-Ahmar Health Unit
In 2006, the Al-Darb Al-Ahmar Health Unit was initiated to improve health and wellbeing in the neighborhood community, with a focus towards women of reproductive age, and children under the age of five. The two main activities of the unit aimed at the promotion of healthy lifestyles within the community and the provision of clinical services to support the wellbeing of women and children.
Over the course of six years, the unit carried out 27 public outreach campaigns on definitions and forms of violence, which have been attended by over 1,000 young women and girls. Other public outreach activities included counselling, psychosocial support, and the conduct of over 80 health awareness courses on topics of nutrition, teenage health, reproductive health, and the well-being of the elderly. With regards to clinical services, 951 women and 1,500 children benefited from visits and follow-ups at the neighbourhood gynecology and pediatric clinic, while 1,560 individuals received consultations about child nutrition, avoiding disease, female genital mutilation (FGM) practices, and family planning. An additional 298 people availed themselves of further clinical facilities, including blood pressure readings, obesity tests, and injections.
The sustained initiatives of the Al-Darb Al-Ahmar Health Unit has resulted in the creation of a “Listening and Psychological Guidance Unit” during the course of the project, which serves as the focal point for continued programme efforts towards promoting health and wellness practices in the area.
Cairo Civil Society Unit
In Cairo, the Civil Society Unit worked in the Al-Darb Al-Ahmar district, where it equipped local CSOs with the managerial and structural tools required to strengthen institutional development and support communication between organizations, government bodies, and individuals in the district. Since programme inception, CSOs have seen a 25 percent increase in volunteers, with an average 100 percent rise in beneficiaries reported by these organizations. In addition, the civil society unit in Al-Darb Al-Ahmar increased the outreach of five CSOs by developing their capacity to apply for and acquire grants from international donors. This, in turn, led to the implementation of leather and wood waste recycling projects in conjunction with the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GIZ). Finally, trainings hosted on the principles of good governance significantly strengthened the organizational structure of CSOs, improving both their credibility and the quality of services provided.
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