September 2009: Cowater Creates Sustainability Through Local Ownership and Job Creation in Egypt

Cowater has been managing the Community Environmental Action Project (CENACT) in cooperation with the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) since 2004 and has contributed to job creation, NGO capacity building, gender mainstreaming and introduction of waste management initiatives in thirty-six communities in two Egyptian governorates – Menia and Ismailia. While activities associated with the project are gradually coming to an end, Cowater is pleased to report two rather significant recent events that will ensure successful results for Egyptian governmental partners and communities beyond the life of the project. Firstly, the NGO Unit of EEAA has been upgraded into an official department of the ministry. This means in practice that it will have its own operating budget, an allocation of local staff and an official and permanent recognition in the organizational structure of EEAA. Secondly, the government has agreed to finance a replication of CENACT by way of an agreement between the Governor of Fayoum and the Minister of Environment in which both partners have committed two million Egyptian pounds (approximately $450,000 Canadian) to supporting green community initiatives in Fayoum. The funding will draw upon best practices of CENACT and would include buying agricultural waste from farmers and producing and selling high-quality compost; producing and selling charcoal using environmentally friendly technology; and operating a solid waste service for rural communities. The dream of sustainable results of CENACT is significantly closer to reality now that the Government of Egypt has made a concrete commitment in support of sustainable development.