Environment and Natural Resource Management
CDS' continuous work in this sector reflects our belief that agriculture lies at the heart of the Egyptian economy and way of life. Environmental changes and the ever increasing population are factors that put increasing pressure on productive agricultural lands as well as their inhabitants. Internal and external problems threaten the sustainability of the Egyptian agriculture sector and way of life in a direct and indirect manner. The increasing scarcity of water resources, unsustainable groundwater use, and the pollution in the Nile River affect not only farmers, but all Egyptians. At the same time, climate change and its consequences threatens to drastically alter the environment in which Egyptians live and seek to thrive.
Diverse as they are, the experiences that CDS has accumulated over the years have built its capacity to work at various levels in the agricultural/environmental realm: working directly with communities to make positive change in their behavior and attitude towards the environment and natural resources and to improve their knowledge/skills and learn to balance traditions with modern practices in their agricultural vocation; provide specialized technical assistance and targeted support to governmental and non‐governmental institutions; and support policy makers and international organizations in assessing environmental changes and mitigate their impact on agriculture.
The essence of our work in the field of agriculture draws on CDS's basic organizational philosophy: people's participation is instrumental for learning and change.
To develop effective and sustainable development programs, CDS relies primarily on involving all stakeholders in the assessment of needs, analysis of problems, building and sharing knowledge, and crafting solutions. We are also keen to involve decision makers at local and national levels in our work, advocate for policy change, and bridge the power gap between farmers and marginalized groups so as their voices are better heard by those in power and authority.
Our Environment and Natural Resource Management program constitutes of four main themes:
- Climate Change
- Water Resources Management
- Agriculture and Food Security
CDS focuses on the idea of forming links between two or more of these themes, thereby developing projects with dual (or multi) concepts and purposes and a clear illustration of this is our work on agro-ecology. Following are some of the landmark projects of CDS in the Environment & Natural Resource Management program:
Program theme : Climate Change
The specific objectives of the project are:
- 1. to produce a vulnerability assessment of different stakeholders and sectors,
- 2. identify and analyze the feasibility of the different adaptation options, and demonstrate their value, and
- 3. build the capacity for multi-stakeholder deliberation processes in adaptation policymaking. (2009-2011)
The various institutes sought to reveal the linkages between climate change and factors such as land degradation, flooding, Lake Nasser temperature fluctuations, agriculture practices, land management methods, and socioeconomic and demographic features.
The project also assessed the potential effects of climatic changes on human health, particularly with relation to waterborne and vector‐borne diseases, and devised adaptation strategies relevant to stakeholders concerned with climate change issues, for the betterment of national resettlement and development schemes. (2008-2010)
Program theme:Agriculture and Food Security
Starting with 100 acres of land, and a cattle feed lot, AIC is providing 75 full-time employment opportunities in an area where job opportunities are scarce.
The company has become a demonstration site and is providing extension services and access to equipment and new seeds to farmers in the area
The project developed strategies for agro-ecology in selected pilot communities, raised awareness and developed a solid skill base among targeted farmers, as well as provided support for farmers regarding exportation of agricultural products through assistance in products' marketing.
A significant project output was the development of a "training manual" on agro-ecology to be taught in Egyptian Agricultural Secondary Schools.
Beneficiaries of the project were poor and marginalized settlers, men and women, in three villages located on Lake Nasser. Because the project disseminated lessons learned to a wider audience and through secondary agricultural schools, indirect beneficiaries included future settlers in the areas surrounding Lake Nasser. (2005-2008)
The project's principal strategy was to enhance capabilities of the local cooperatives in the management and efficient use of land and water resources through extension services and provision of necessary technology and machinery. Through this project, cooperatives' members particularly women had access to financial services to implement income generating activities, access health services and make improvements in their villages to provide a safer environment for living. The project actively involved women in solving some of the immediate problems facing their villages based on the results of PRA studies conducted in their villages and several initiatives using self-financed resources were implemented such as "Literacy Begins At Home" program and a "Rural Women Development Association". (2003-2007)
Research staff also assisted "farmer learning groups" in Ismailia and Beni Suef governorates to plan the project's expansion activities and reorient farmer‐extension agents' relationships. Based on this initial phase, CDS developed a manual on Participatory Extension. The manual targeted subject matter specialists and village extension workers, employed by the Ministry of Agriculture to organize the farmers into learning groups and oversee their meetings. (1996-1999)
Program theme:Water Resources Management
The training consisted of research on participatory tools and techniques relevant to the university's work, and the carrying out of practical applications of the social values in management of water resources.
The work was conducted in four districts in El-Minnya governorate and developed valuable insights related to the social perceptions of irrigation water, governance of water resources, and power relations of WUAs. (2001)
CDS fulfilled multiple roles at various stages of the project, that of community organizer, mediator, facilitator and trainer, and CDS also provided technical assistance to local organizations, government authorities and project managers. (2000-2002)
CDS role was focused on the socio‐economic development plans under the project in five distinct yet integrated components: local economy, community services, environmental upgrading, public affairs and institution building.
The project had specific objectives to tackle the specific problems in the area such as high unemployment and low incomes, lack of fundamental community services accompanied by deteriorating buildings, poor infrastructure and severe pollution; and general marginalization and decay of this historic Cairo community.
The project encompassed the design and construction of a 70‐feddan international park linking the Fatimid City with the sprawling "City of the Dead," restoration of an historic wall, and housing rehabilitation schemes. CDS role was focused on the socio‐economic development plans under the project in five distinct yet integrated components: local economy, community services, environmental upgrading, public affairs and institution building. The outstanding achievements included: 2,026 jobs created, 1,285 job referrals made, 939 apprentices trained on new skills, 100 apprentices placed in workshops in the community, 15 grants to upgrade placement sites released, 4 women‐working‐together groups established and a family health center established to receive 200 clients/day.
A revolving fund for income‐generating activities was established and funded 400 local initiated development activities in the area, 35 small projects of local entrepreneurs were granted financial support and 10 grants were awarded to of self‐help initiatives by local NGOs. (1999-2004)
With support of CDS stakeholders identifying key issues and designed and carried out community-based interventions. At the end of the project a self-evaluation was facilitated. 'Participation' and 'Collaboration' represented the key guiding themes and framework through which the project's implementation was carried forward.
The community initiatives varied from one place to another. While in Beheira, the initiatives revolved around creating a scheme for the collection and removal of garbage around the water canal that crosses the village, the initiatives in Sohag were centered on the removal of the long-lived polluted water tanks serving residents as well as domestic animals, and the re-use of the vacant spaces after their removal. El-Minnya, on the other hand, embarked on seven initiatives simultaneously to overcome problems of frequent potable water cut offs experience by the village, collect the widespread garbage on the village's streets, minimize leaks of domestic water through fixing water pipes and valves problems, and raise awareness of residents, particularly children, on the importance of water conservation and cleanliness. (2005)
Local residents of the proposed areas for the shaft construction sites were expected to be affected by the activities taking place in front of their doorsteps and a number of them were to be displaced.
Following the review of the Environmental Impact Statement, DFID indicated that they wished to establish a broader public consultation exercise to be carried out in order to cover the residents who would be most directly affected by the construction of the Maadi Rock Tunnel. (1998)