Darine Al-Khatib, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Special Goodwill Ambassador for Zero Hunger for the Near East and North Africa (NENA) region, led a recent visit with a FAO delegation to look over the results of an on-ground project in Beni Sweif, some 100km south of Cairo, focusing on food and nutrition security in Egypt. Joining Ms al-Khatib on her Beni Sweif visit were Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the NENA region, along with other FAO officials. The project they titled “Improving Household Food and Nutrition Security in Egypt, by targeting Women and Youth” in Beni Sueif.
The project, which launched in December 2012 in the Upper Egyptian governorates of Assiut, Aswan, Beni Sueif, Fayoum and Sohag, focused on nutrition and health awareness and homestead food production and income-generating activities, as well as improving household food and nutrition security.
“Hunger and nutrition are two key deterrents of development in the NENA region that need our attention and hard work,” Ms Al-Khatib said during the visit. “This project is an example of the successful work FAO implements, and I look forward to working on more similar and fruitful projects to create a world free of hunger and malnutrition.”
Ould Ahmed was also optimistic about the project. “We are very pleased with the impact of this project and we can see that it has impacted more than 2,700 women and young people,” he said.
The project has established 15 Community Nutrition Kitchens, three in each of the five governorates, in which women are taught healthy and nutritious food preparation, storage and preservation techniques.
Fifteen Junior Farm Field and Life Schools (JFFLS) were created in the five governorates, where nutrient-dense crops were introduced to female farmers.
The project also established 10 Processing Schools, two in each of the five governorates, to provide women with hands-on knowledge of home-processing techniques and food safety, as well as healthy diets using fruits and vegetables harvested from local fields or grown in landless micro-gardens.
In addition, seven Community Model Gardens are now operating to teach the women how to produce higher-income-generating plants, as well as increasing food diversity and nutritional value while reducing their families’ reliance on food bought in local markets.
The project provided funds to some 175 female-led projects in three governorates, and offered technical training and nutritional education.
According to FAO, Egypt has succeeded in increasing its food supply at the national level, but the country has fared less successful in addressing malnutrition, which remains one of the main challenges in need of development. In fact, the country faces a “triple burden” of malnutrition, with malnutrition accounting for 35 percent of the disease burden in children younger than the age of five, as well as the coexistence of both forms of malnutrition, over- and under-nutrition, with micronutrient deficiencies.
24 September 2017