On July 30, 2023, the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) joined the Egyptian partner Heliopolis University in a workshop held within the framework of the WATDEV Programme to validate the Best Management Practices (BMPs) with the Egyptian stakeholders and farmers. The meeting was held in Sekem Farm in Belbeis, Desert Road, and was attended by nearly 50 participants.
The main objective of the Awareness Meeting in Egypt was to enhance the implementation of selected BMPs and innovations for the local study area. More particularly, Water Users’ Associations, Intercropping and Composting in Belbies district will be studied and analysed for implementation and upscaling during the WATDEV Project.
The opening session was led by Prof. Sherif Mohamady Elsayed, the Vice Dean for Society Services and Environmental Development in the Faculty of Engineering of Heliopolis University. He introduced the meeting by presenting the selected BMPs and innovations, outlining goals, means, and possible impacts.
In his remarks, ASARECA’s Acting Head of Programmes, Mr. Moses Odeke who is also the coordinator of the initiative at the regional level, mentioned that following the first round of awareness sessions in Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Kenya in 2022, a multi-actor stakeholder meeting was held in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, selecting a combination of BMPs for each intervention country piloted under the WATDEV Project. “The second round of intervention meetings which have been carried out now in all intervention countries is therefore meant to validate the selected BMPs by reviewing their benefits, feasibility, practicability, and challenges in application as well as to further prioritise objectives for each BMPs.” Mr. Odeke said, adding that “this exercise will bring forward specific needs and technical solutions to adapt the selected BMPs to the local content.”
Mr. Claudio Bogliotti, the Scientific Lead of the Project for the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM) Bari, thanked the local participants for their enthusiasm in analysing the BMPs, ASARECA for its coordination of local actors across the continent, as well as Heliopolis University for mobilising stakeholders. “This is the fourth in a series of awareness events organised under the WATDEV Project through which we hope to learn, share, and take up comments from stakeholders on BMPs.” Bogliotti noted.
Dr. Gaeteno Ladisa, the Administrative Lead for CIHEAM Bari, thanked the farmers and government stakeholders for their keenness. “Egypt was the first place where stakeholder consultations were held in September 2022, which set off a research process where BMPs were selected.” Ladisa mentioned, and concluded his talk saying that “the meeting will define priorities and goals that farmers need to achieve in the implementation of the BMPs, which will in turn inform the tools to be provided to local authorities to refine the BMPs in Egypt.”
Furthermore, Prof. Wael Khairy (PhD), Head of Civil Engineering Department (Water Programme) at Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development, spoke on behalf of the
Dean Faculty of Engineering affirming the commitment of the latter, in its four branches, Water Engineering - Energy Engineering - Mechatronics Engineering and Green Architecture Engineering, to serve the rural community within the university's scope in Belbies in particular, by developing sustainable applied solutions that reduce competition for water and clean energy among farmers. “These solutions are also useful in increasing the productivity of a cubic meter of water. Here comes the role of the individual in conserving water from loss, waste, and pollution because it is an existential source without which life cannot continue,” he noted.