Fellow Sameh Seif to Be Featured in Egypt’s 2007 Human Development Report

Sameh SeifThe work of Ashoka Arab World Fellow Sameh Seif will be featured in the upcoming United Nations Development Programme’s Egypt Human Development Report (2007) in the section entitled “Sanitation at the Crossroads: What Can Civil Society Offer?” Sameh’s CSO Together for Environment and Development builds and maintains environmentally and economically sustainable sewage systems in Middle and Upper Egypt’s villages and rural areas. Sameh’s work is unique, however, for it doesn’t build the sanitation systems from textbook designs, but rather takes into consideration the context of the particular village as well as the household size and income level of the family for which the system is built. The sanitation system also accommodates Upper Egypt’s unique water table levels, which prevent the successful operation of more traditional, mainstream systems. According to the Report, Sameh’s technique is classified as “best practice” not just for its innovative design and accommodation of its primary stakeholders, but also because the project attempts to involve and engage unemployed youth as well as women, who are traditionally minimally involved in community and infrastructure planning and construction. The report has yet to be released, but the most recent Human Development Reports can be read here.

سوف يتم نشر أعمال زميل “أشوكا العالم العربي” سامح سيف في العدد المقبل من تقرير التنمية البشرية لمصر (2007)التابع لبرنامج الأمم المتحدة الإنمائي في القسم المعنون “الصرف الصحي في مفترق الطرق: ماذا يمكن أن يقدم المجتمع المدني؟”. منظمة سامح المعروفة بإسم “معاً من أجل البيئة والتنمية” تبني وتصون شبكات ونظم الصرف المستدامة بيئياً واقتصادياً في مصر العليا والوسطى في القرى والمناطق الريفية. يعد عمل سامح عمل فريد من نوعه نظراً لأنه لا يقوم ببناء شبكات الصرف الصحي من كتاب تصميمات، وإنما يأخذ في الإعتبار السياق العام والخاص لكل موقع وقرية فضلاً عن حجم الأسرة ومستوى دخل الأسرة الذي يتم بناء النظام لها. يستوعب هذا النظام مستويات المياه الفريدة لصعيد مصر، التي تحول دون انجاح النظم الأكثر تقليدية. ووفقا للتقرير، تم تصنيف تقنية سامح على أنها “افضل الممارسات” ليس فقط لمجرد كون التصميم مبتكر، ولكن أيضا لأن المشروع يعمل على ضم وإشراك الشباب العاطلين فضلا عن النساء اللائي يعتبرن تقليديا أقل الفئات مشاركة في تخطيط المجتمع والبنية الأساسية والتشييد. التقرير لم يصدر بعد، ولكن يمكنك الإطلاع على أحدث تقارير التنمية البشرية هنا.

Computer Literacy & Broadband in Egypt

The current issue of the Egyptian magazine Business Today features an exposé on the stymied development of Internet access in sub-Saharan Africa, highlighting the statistic that only 4% of the population routinely uses the Internet, and fewer than 1% of those users have broadband access. For comparison sake, 17.3% of the Middle East’s population identify as Internet users, as does 70.2% of North American residents. In the same vein, broadband access costs less than 20 USD per month in Egypt, while the average price for sub-Saharan Africa is between 250 and 300 USD per month. Arab business leaders are beginning to address this disparity. Etislat, a mobile phone company, is installing a high-capacity 110 million USD fiber optic submarine cable system between Mombassa, Kenya and Fujairah, UAE, which will bring increased broadband access to Eastern Africa. Similarly, Egyptian computer manufacturing centers which supply Libya and Nigeria are beginning to restructure their supply chains as to better serve sub-Saharan Africa.

However, Egypt is not a complete success story either. An Alexandria University professor estimated that the country was still 94% computer illiterate, while Microsoft speculates about 10% of Egyptians routinely access the Internet either at home or in Internet cafes. Microsoft has also implemented the Home PC Initiative, which will ultimately put 10,000 computers into low-income Egyptian homes at the cost of LE 50 (less than 10 USD) a month. The spread of computer hardware, computer literacy, and broadband would not only aid in Egypt’s development and the overall technical capacity of its workforce in the increasingly global economy, but would also assist in almost all other development efforts by facilitating technology transfer and communication.

The Business Today article ends by sounding a call for social entrepreneurs to assist in the development of broadband and computer literacy, mimicking what business has already done. Will we see any social entrepreneurs step up to the plate and address this niche?

Tofulty Foundation Works to Raise Awareness of Egyptian Street Children

TofoultyRecently, the United Nations released an estimate that hundreds of thousands of children, sometimes as young as four or five years old, live on Egypt’s streets in attempt to flee poverty, abuse or broken homes. The international newswire Reuters picked up on the story and interviewed Ashoka Fellow Seham Ibrahim about the crisis of sexual abuse among the street children. “Sexual abuse is ABC in the phenomenon. Not only for street girls but for the boys also,” Seham said. A 2006 Egyptian government survey showed roughly half of street girls had had sex and about 45 percent of those had been raped. Ibrahim’s CSO the Tofoulty Foundation runs a shelter and school in Helwan for Cairene street children. Read the whole Reuters story here.

أصدرت منظمة الأمم المتحدة مؤخراً إحصاء تقديري يذكر أن مئات الآلاف من الأطفال، أحيانا لا تتجاوز أعمارهم أربع أو خمس سنوات، يعيشون في شوارع مصر في محاولة للفرار من الفقر، وسوء المعاملة أو الأسر المفككة. وكالة الأنباء الدولية رويترز تابعت القصة وأجرت حواراً مع الزميلة سهام إبراهيم حول قضية الإعتداء الجنسي بين أطفال الشوارع. وقد أوضحت سهام قائلة “الإعتداء الجنسي هو من أساسيات ظاهرة أطفال الشوارع ليس فقط للفتيات ولكن الأولاد أيضاً”. وقد أظهر استقصاء للحكومة المصرية عام 2006 أن ما يقرب من نصف فتيات الشوارع قد مارسن الجنس وحوالي 45% منهن قد تعرضن للإغتصاب. من الجدير بالذكر أن منظمة سهام إبراهيم (طفولتي) تدير مأوى ومدرسة في حلوان لأطفال الشوارع بالقاهرة. لقراءة قصة رويترز، إضغط هنا.

Habi Centre to Host Climate Conference

Opening of Bali ConferenceIn the midst of the global United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference currently occurring in Bali, Indonesia, Fellow Mohamed Nagi and his CSO The Habi Centre for Environmental Rights will be coordinating a climate conference occurring in Alexandria, Egypt on December 8th, 2007. Mohamed is also currently sponsoring a workshop and conference on climate change in Cairo, which is running from December 5th-7th.

في خضم مؤتمر إطار العمل الخاص بإتفاقية الأمم المتحدة العالمية بشأن تغير المناخ (UNFCCC) ( المنعقد حاليا في بالي، أندونيسيا، سوف يقوم الزميل محمد ناجي ومنظمة المجتمع المدني التابعة له والمعروفة بإسم مركز حابي للحقوق البيئية بتنسيق مؤتمر عن المناخ في الأسكندرية (مصر) في الثامن من ديسمبر، 2007. يقوم محمد أيضا في الوقت الحاضر برعاية ورشة عمل ومؤتمر حول تغير المناخ في القاهرة يمتد من 5-7 كانون الأول/ديسمبر .

World AIDS Day

Yesterday’s observance of World AIDS Day was marked by experts and activists across the world calling for vigilance and increased awareness of the disease, which UNAIDS recently estimated afflicts 33 million individuals across the world. Indonesia, the Asian country with the fastest-growing HIV epidemic, chose the day to launch its first national campaign urging condom use.

images.jpgAshoka Fellow R.S. is bringing the proliferation of AIDS to the national attention of Egypt, a country which only has 8,000 people living with AIDS but also possesses a culture which avoids the topic of illness related to sexual activity, creating a high risk for a surge of HIV infection rates. To prevent the spread of HIV, R.S. has created a citizen sector organization (CSO) that arranges counseling, medical care, and legal assistance, and introduces greater awareness of the problem to the government, the Egyptian public, and existing networks of citizen organizations. Recognizing that much of Egypt’s population with AIDS were affiliated with the country’s underground sex and prostitution industry, R.S.’s organization also reaches out to sex workers, conducting legal and health awareness sessions and listening sessions, distributing condoms and encouraging sex workers to seek regular medical checkups.