Diplomatic briefs

30-03-2013 10:47 PM

Mary Fikry-Antoun Milad

Poetry to the rescue
To mark the UNESCO’s World Poetry Day, a charity evening was held on 21 March at the Cairo Opera House Open-Air Theatre, to raise funds through poetry and music

Poetry to the rescue
To mark the UNESCO’s World Poetry Day, a charity evening was held on 21 March at the Cairo Opera House Open-Air Theatre, to raise funds through poetry and music for the Children Cancer Hospital. The event was organised by the Italian Cultural Institute within a project co-funded by the European Union Kalam lil Shabab (Words for the young) with the support of the Cairo embassies of Hungary, Portugal and Switzerland. 
The programme included a reception, a book fair and a five-minute documentary on Hospital 57357. It featured poets José Luís Peixoto (Portugal), Oliver Scharpf (Switzerland), Geza Szecs (Hungary), Dante Marianacci (Italy) as well as Egyptian poets Abdel-Moeti Hegazi and Hassan Taleb. Italian singer Eleonora Iannotta performed two songs, and the Ashra Gharby band gave a concert. 
Culture Minister Mohamed Saber Arab, Italian Ambassador to Cairo Maurizio Massari,

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 President of the General Conference of UNESCO Katalin Bogyay, Head of the EU Delegation to Egypt James Moran, and Director the Hospital Sherif Abul-Naga attended the event.
Technology for learning
US and Egyptian officials have celebrated the graduation of 234 educators from the Greater Cairo region from The Technology for Improved Learning Outcomes (TILO) programme.
The TILO project comprises four components focused on improving the quality of teaching and learning through introducing education technology through school reform activities; providing hardware which schools can manage; training teachers, supervisors, and inspectors in using technology tools in specific ways; and through introducing digital resources and active learning methods to increase knowledge, critical thinking and problem solving skills. The programme, which is funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and a number of private sector companies, has equipped 400 schools in Egypt, among which are 18 in Cairo, with technology and digital resources, and delivered hands-on training to teachers, supervisors, and local administration. Over 255,000 students and 21,000 teachers from nine provinces have participated in the project.
Planting our future
To mark the very first recurrence of the International Day of Forests, the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation and the Ministry of Environment in collaboration with FAO, celebrated a tree-planting event in the Egypto-Japanese Friendship Forest, in Wadi al-Natrun in the Western Desert.
The event addressed the strategic role forests plantation can have in Egypt to protect soil and water, preserve biodiversity, and, most importantly, combat desertification.
The planted trees are part of the already established plantation sites which are regularly used as educational tools to build knowledge and raise awareness among young people that forest plantations can contribution to livelihoods and food security, and also answer multiple economic, social and ecological needs.
Austria meets Egypt
The Austrian embassy in Cairo has held its “Austria meets Egypt Day” for the second year in succession at the Azhar Park. The theme of the day was “non-SENSE”, callingAustriaMeetsEgypt2.jpg for the activation of all the senses, bringing the five senses into focus. “In a noisy, chaotic city like Cairo,” the flier introducing the event read, “your senses are often overwhelmed. It is necessary to rediscover your senses and use your judgement. Do you know spices simply by smelling them, or can you pick out an instrument when listening to a whole orchestra playing? Perception is as varied and multifaceted as our world itself.” 
The many Cairenes who decided to accept the invitation found a number of joyful activities awaiting them at the park. There was Marimba artist Nesma Abdel-Aziz and her band, an Austrian marimba player, the Tuppy Duo with classical Austrian chamber music, the GMH Orkestar with funky Jazz music, children theater, plenty of workshops and a corner with traditional Austrian apple strudel. 

It was a memorable day in which Egyptians did meet Austria.
Musical bridge
The Egyptian-Finnish Musical Bridge returned to Cairo’s Arabic Music Institute on 28 and 29 March, where music lovers were treated to famous opera Arias and a chamber music concert, both with free admission.
The Musical Bridge is the result of cooperation between the Finnish pianist and conductor Ralp Gothóni and the Cairo Opera House. The Bridge was first organised in 2007, so this is the sixth year this music event has been held.
In addition to the opera and chamber music concerts, the Musical Bridge also included a full week of workshops and training for over 30 young Egyptian musicians and singers. This year they were instructed by opera director Eija Tolpo, professor Mark Gothóni, flutists Ilpo Mansnerus and Anja Voipio, cellist Yuko Miyagawa, and professor Ralf

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The aspiration of the Musical Bridge is to work as an actual bridge between Finland and Egypt in cultural affairs, and to train promising Egyptian musicians and singers. Some of those young talents will be invited to perform at Finnish music festivals, such as the Savonlinna Opera Festival.
Helping Egypt’s poor
Egypt’s cities are growing rapidly. Well over half the population of greater Cairo lives in informal districts that are overcrowded and undersupplied with services. There is a lack of open spaces, social services and facilities. Extremely high population density places considerable strain on the environment. In many cases, the people are poor, with a low level of formal education. They often develop housing areas for themselves, without planning permission and usually without connections to the public infrastructure. They also avoid contact with local authorities. Most of these unplanned districts are built on valuable agricultural land. 
The Participatory Development Programme (PDP), commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) 
is out to help Egypt deal with the multi-level problems of unplanned urban areas. Through cooperation with the Ministry of Planning, the PDP helps public administration and civil-society organisations work to improve environmental conditions for the urban poor, and provide them with services. The project, which began back in 2004, runs till 2015.
The programme provides advice to decision makers in government on how to deal with informal urban areas. The main focus is on participatory urban development, by processing experiences gained from community work and devising training concepts based on them. 
In a number of districts, with co-financing from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the programme is introducing an integrated, community-based waste management system that takes informal actors into consideration and promotes communication with the public sector.
The issue of climate change adaptation in urban poverty areas is being addressed for the first time in Egypt through the work of the programme in Greater Cairo, contributing to greater awareness of the growing need for measures in this field. 
Overall, these measures should reach some 1.6 million residents in the governorates of Cairo and Giza.
More than 200 NGO-based self-help initiatives have so far received support. 
WATANI International
30 March 2013
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