Posts Tagged ‘Egypt’

The Green Profile of the Grand Mufti of Egypt

October 31, 2011


   The Green Profile of the Grand Mufti of Egypt

   by Moshe Terdiman

   October 2011


Sheikh Ali Gomaa is the Grand Mufti of Egypt since September 2003 and one of the highest ranking and respected religious authorities throughout the Sunni world. He holds the second highest religious position in Egypt, after that of Sheikh al-Azhar. As the Grand Mufti, he oversees the premier institution throughout the Muslim world for religious legal direction, Dar al-Iftaa.

Sheikh Ali Gomaa was born on March 3, 1952 in Bani Suwaif in Upper Egypt. After graduating from college, Sheikh Ali Gomaa enrolled in al-Azhar University. In 1988, he obtained a PhD from the al-Azhar’s University’s Department of Shari’ah and Law. During the 1990s, Sheikh Ali Gomaa served as a Professor of Juristic Methodologies in the al-Azhar University. In addition, as from the mid-1990s, he reestablished the tradition of giving informal lessons in the al-Azhar Mosque. In these lessons, Sheikh Ali Gomaa succeeded to convert Muslims who used to hold extremist views into Muslims who hold a more moderate Islamic approach. In 1998, Sheikh Ali began delivering the Friday sermon at Cairo’s Sultan Hasan Mosque.[1]

Sheikh Ali Gomaa has taken a very clear stance against extremist interpretations of Islam and has become one of the most explicitly anti-extremist clerics in mainstream Sunni Islam. According to him, the use of violence to spread Islam is prohibited and the problem of the radical Muslims is that they have not been educated in genuine centers of Islamic learning. As from the 1990s, he used to go to the prisons and work with radical Muslim prisoners, who denounced violence and embraced the Nonviolence Initiative.[2]

In addition, Sheikh Ali Gomaa is in favor of dialogue and understanding with other religions. He is one of the signatories of A Common Word between Us and You, an open letter dated October 13, 2007, which was written by Islamic scholars to Christian leaders, calling for peace and understanding between the followers of both religions.[3] Moreover, Sheikh Ali Gomaa is a signatory of the Amman Message, which gives a broad foundation for defining Muslim orthodoxy, states that nobody has the right to excommunicate a Muslim, and restricts the issuing of fatwas (religious rulings) to those with the scholarly qualifications to do so.[4] Furthermore, he has publicly asserted that the famous anti-Semitic book, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, is a forgery.

Sheikh Ali Gomaa also issued some controversial fatwas, whose aim is to strive to show the continued relevance of Islam for people living in the 21st century, such as: the permission to sell pork and alcohol in the West; the equal political rights enjoyed by men and women in Islam, including the right to become president of a modern state; and the prohibition of female circumcision.   

As part of his progressive and modern thinking and his wish to show the continued relevance of Islam for people living in the 21st century, Sheikh Ali Gomaa made Dar al-Iftaa a modern institution with a fatwa council, systems of checks and balances, a website and a call center, through which people may ask for fatwas even if they cannot come in person to the institution.[5]   

Sheikh Ali Gomaa’s progressive and modern thinking is also reflected in his statements and fatwas concerning the environment. In this article, I would like to focus on Sheikh Ali Gomaa’s environmental ideology and activity.

Sheikh Ali Gomaa’s Green Ideology

The question of how to utilize religious teachings to solve current environment-related problems has become a priority in Sheikh Ali Gomaa’s agenda. He believes that the religious traditions can offer us moral ways and principles for dealing with current environmental issues. In his speech in front of the Parliament of World Religions in Melbourne on December 10, 2009, which was titled “the Role of Religion in Preserving the Environment”, Sheikh Ali Gomaa said that despite the fact that “in our day we are struggling with a number of issues related to the environment such as climate change, the pollution of the air, oceans, seas, and waterways, and the challenges of feeding a growing global population” and despite the fact that “many of these issues are relatively new so that our forebears did not address them explicitly, our religious traditions do offer us worldviews and principles that aid us in finding solutions to our contemporary problems”.[6]

In order to stress this point, Sheikh Ali Gomaa used to cite in his speeches dealing with environmental issues one Qur’anic phrase and one hadith: “Do not sow corruption in the earth after it has been set in order: this is better for you, if you are believers” [7:85]; and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Those who plant a tree and patiently tend to it until it bears fruit will have the reward of giving charity for everything that it produces”.[7]

Sheikh Ali Gomaa has been outspoken on environmental sustainability. On November 2, 2009, on his speech at the Alliance of Religions and Conservation conference at Windsor Castle, Sheikh Ali Gomaa said that “it is a religious duty to safeguard our environment and advocate the importance of preserving it. Pollution and global warming pose an even greater threat than war and the fight to preserve the environment could be the most positive way of bringing humanity together. Environment-related issues ought to be a significant component of educational curricula. It is the duty of all religious scholars to acquaint themselves with the environmental crisis we are facing”.[8]

According to Sheikh Ali Gomaa, in order to reach environmental sustainability, Muslims should understand that their role from an Islamic point of view is to be God’s vicegerents or deputies on earth. As such, they are responsible to care for and maintain the world while benefiting from what the world has to offer. However, Muslims shouldn’t overexploit, use, and abuse the world and its resources for their own purposes since, as Sheikh Ali Gomaa said, “it is a shared right that God has established for all living beings and we do not have the authority to deprive even animals of their rights”.[9] In another speech, Sheikh Ali Gomaa elaborated more on this point and said that “according to the Islamic paradigm, human beings are the vice regents of God on earth and will be judged in the hereafter for their actions and held accountable for the way they handled the environment. Humankind is not free to consume or pollute carelessly. Preserving nature and preventing corruption in earth is one of the core responsibilities of all believers”.[10] In fact, Sheikh Ali Gomaa said that if the Muslims take good care of the environment, they will be rewarded with goodness, but if they abuse it and leave it to ruin, they will meet a frightful end as stated in the Qur’an: “those who break their covenant with God after it has been confirmed, who sever the bonds that God has commanded to be joined, who spread corruption on the earth – those are the losers” [2:27].[11]

Thus, according to Sheikh Ali Gomaa, “one of the key characteristics of humankind’s role as deputies in the world is balance. We must find a balance between benefiting from the blessings that the world has to offer us, and preserving the order that God has established. We must find a balance between securing our own needs while not depriving others of theirs, whether those others reside in different parts of the world, such as less powerful nations, or in different times, such as our children and grandchildren. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: All of creation are God’s dependents, and the most beloved of God’s servants to Him are those that are the most beneficial to His dependents. If we take seriously our role as God’s deputies on earth, not just by benefiting from the environment, but by preserving it and ensuring that other communities and generations will have the same possibilities to drink clean water, breath fresh air, and live in a world that is in harmony with itself and with ourselves, we may hope to be among those who are beloved to God due to their care for His creation”.[12]

In fulfilling their role, Muslims have to collaborate with followers of other religions, because, basically, all humanity shares the responsibility to preserve the world. In his speech at the Alliance of Religions and Conservation conference at Windsor Castle on November 2, 2009, Sheikh Ali Gomaa stressed this point by saying that “we envision a world that is environmentally safe for our children and the next generations where all nations of all religions live in harmony with nature and enjoy justice and fair share of God’s bounties”.[13]

From Ideology to Practice

Putting theory into practice, Dar al-Iftaa will be the first establishment in Egypt to be declared carbon-free by the end of 2011.[14] Sheikh Ali Gomaa mentioned this already in his speech at the Alliance of Religions and Conservation conference at Windsor Castle on November 2, 2009, where he said that “I am also very pleased to share with you that Egypt’s Dar Al Iftaa, over which I preside, has started taking practical steps to go carbon neutral in 2010.”[15] furthermore, Dar al-Iftaa organized and participated in international forums and conferences which deal with environmental issues, such as the Alexandria Conference on the Sacredness of Water to the Religions, which brought together Muslims and Christians.[16]

Besides, Dar al-Iftaa and Sheikh Ali Gomaa issue environmental fatwas. For example, in 2007, Sheikh Ali Gomaa issued a fatwa in which he prohibited the farmers from the burning of rice and cotton waste after the harvest. The farmers in the Governorates of Sharqiyyah, Gharbiyyah, Qaliubiyyah, Kafr al-Sheikh, Buhayrah, and Daqahliyyah –the six Governorates with the highest level of rice harvesting in Egypt – have been traditionally used to burn their rice and cotton waste in the fall of every year. The smoke which comes out of this burning together with the vehicle exhaust fumes and industrial pollution add to Cairo’s already heavy pollution and as from 1999 result in a dark layer of smog over Cairo which has been known as the “black cloud”, especially in the months of October and November. This smog has affected children the most. They tend to suffer from difficulty in breathing, lung diseases, asthma or eye infections.[17]

In order to fight air pollution over Cairo, Dar al-Iftaa issued a fatwa in which it prohibits the farmers to burn rice and cotton waste. The reason is that the burning of rice waste is considered by Sheikh Ali Gomaa as one of the acts that causes harm to the environment and, therefore, is prohibited in Islam. As a justification for this ban, the fatwa cited Prophet Muhammad, who said that “there should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm”. The fatwa condemns people involved in the practice and regards them as “causing destruction… without any justification and this is a major sin which the Qur’an forbids”. This fatwa concerns also those who wish to burn this waste to exterminate germs or insects in the land, because there are other methods that are less harmful. Dar al-Iftaa also requested government authorities to provide environmentally friendly alternatives to farmers to get rid of rice waste.[18]

As a result of this fatwa, the Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs launched in November 2008 an awareness campaign targeting the farmers in the Governorates of Sharqiyyah, Gharbiyyah, Qaliubiyyah, Kafr al-Sheikh, Buhayrah, and Daqahliyyah using SMS and a hotline. Text messages saying that the burning of rice waste is bad for the environment were circulated among the farmers. The Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs also held a number of workshops teaching farmers how to recycle rice waste and safe methods of disposal. It also promoted other usage of rice waste such as animal feed, organic fertilizer and greatly supporting and promoting the industries which rely on the rice waste as a primary source of energy, such as paper production.[19]      

Sheikh Ali Gomaa’s environmental agenda has not been limited to Egypt alone. He took an active part in Muslim gatherings as well as in multi-religious gatherings, such as the Parliament of World Religions which convened in Melbourne on December 10, 2009 or the Alliance of Religions and Conservation conference which was held at Windsor Castle on November 2, 2009 and gave speeches dealing with the need to preserve the environment.

In these gatherings and conferences he has not spoken only on behalf of himself and his green ideology but has also represented all the Sunni Muslims. For example, in his speech at the Alliance of Religions and Conservation conference at Windsor Castle on November 2, 2009, Sheikh Ali Gomaa said on behalf of all Muslims that “we envision a world that is environmentally safe for our children and the next generations where all nations of all religions live in harmony with nature and enjoy justice and fair share of God’s bounties. We are committed to contribute to the ongoing global efforts dealing with climate change based on the Muslim Seven Year action plan that reflects Islamic principles and values. Muslim Association for Climate Change Action (MACCA) has been founded to be responsible for implementing the plan. The response to this action plan that we launched in Istanbul has been remarkable in a lot of ways and practical steps to execute the plan are underway. Major Islamic cities are to declare the Green status soon, such as Sala in Morocco and al-Madinah in Saudi Arabia”. Only at the very end of his speech, Sheikh Ali Gomaa spoke on behalf of himself and said: “I am also very pleased to share with you that Egypt’s Dar Al Iftaa, over which I preside, has started taking practical steps to go carbon neutral in 2010.”[20]

Together with other Sunni and Shi’ite religious scholars, Sheikh Ali Gomaa supported the Muslim Seven Year Action Plan on Climate Change 2010 – 2017, which was declared in Istanbul following an unprecedented gathering of some 200 key Muslim leaders, scholars, civil society members and government ministries from throughout the Muslim world which was convened on July 6-7, 2009.. This action plan proposes establishing institutional enabling framework; developing overall capacity to deal with climate change and environmental conservation; developing and enhancing communication, outreach, and partnerships; activating and reviving implementation of previous initiatives, plans, and declarations; investigating every level of Muslim activity from daily life to annual pilgrimages, from holy cities to the future training of imams; developing the major Muslim cities as green city models for other Islamic urban areas; developing an Islamic label for environmentally friendly goods and services; and creating a best practice environmental guide for Islamic businesses”.[21]

Sheikh Ali Gomaa also wrote a book titled “The Environment and Its Protection from an Islamic Point of View”, in which he put into paper his green ideology.


Sheikh Ali Gomaa has positioned himself at the forefront of the Muslim effort to tackle climate change, which he regards as the most threatening and important challenge facing humanity in the 21st century. He took practical steps so that Dar Al Iftaa, the premier Sunni institution, will be carbon neutral in 2011. He issued a fatwa prohibiting a common custom of Egyptian farmers for the sake of not causing harm to people and the environment. He gave environmental speeches in front of multi-religious gatherings, in which he has spoken in the name of all Muslims. All this makes Sheikh Ali Gomaa a central and leading figure in the Muslim effort to tackle climate change.

There is no doubt that Sheikh Ali Gomaa’s thorough Islamic education and knowledge helped him use Islamic texts in order to deal with current environmental problems. But, what has made him better suited to represent the Sunnites and, sometimes, all Muslims in multi-religious gatherings talking about the environment from an Islamic point of view has been his belief in dialogue, understanding and cooperation with followers of other religions.

From this point of view, Sheikh Ali Gomaa has not been only a Muslim environmental influential leader but also a worldwide influential religious environmental leader, who — through his example, speeches, and ideology —  has inspired many other religious scholars, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, to use religious traditions in order to preserve the environment.     

[3] See on-line at: 

[4] See on-line at: 

Israel Influence Extended to All Nile Basin Centers

July 9, 2011

Dr. Mahmoud Abou-Zeid, Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation told the People’s Assembly that the Israeli influence had spread to all the Nile Basin countries.
In a statement he made yesterday on the water crisis in the Arab world before the People’s Assembly committee on Arab Affairs, he said that there had already been Israeli influence in all the Nile Basin countries as it extends financial, technical and industrial assistance in the fields of industry, food and sanitary drainage projects. Such influence, however, the minister added, is very weak in the field of Nile water or the construction of dams or water project as Israel is not very effective in that sphere.
The minister said that the Israeli influence weakness in that area might be attributed to the effective cooperation between Egypt and each of the Nile Basin countries.

See on-line at:

The Case against Egypt Selling Gas to Israel

July 8, 2011

July 4th, 2011

For what must be the third or fourth time since the Egyptian revolution began on January 25, the Sinai gas pipeline that takes Egyptian gas to Israel has been attacked. These attacks are not particularly dramatic, but are enough of a bother that it takes several weeks to restore the flow of gas to Israel — and often Jordan, which is affected by the pipeline. The people behind the attacks are thought to be Sinai-based Islamists who oppose the sale of gas to Israel, but we don’t really know for sure. The attack took place only 60km east of the Suez Canal, and it could very well be people from the Nile Valley carrying out the attacks — and they don’t have to be Islamists, either, since plenty of other people oppose the gas deal.

Since the revolution, the interim government has reviewed gas prices but thus far everything indicates that the sale of gas will continue. From what I’ve been able to gather (and I’d like to write something longer on this one day), Egypt was selling the gas to Eastern Mediterranean Gas (EMG), the private firm that then sold the gas to the Israeli National Electricity Company, at around $3 per mbtu (that’s million British thermal units — the standard measurement for these things). EMG then sold it to the Israelis for around $4.5 per mbtu, pocketing a 50% profit margin for no more than the transaction costs and some of the infrastructure between the two countries. The market price for gas (which is not as fungible as oil since it tends to rely on pipeline infrastructure unless shipped as LNG) is currently around $4.40 for futures in North America, but spot markets in recent years passed the $10 per mbtu mark. Either way, there is no doubt that the price of the gas sold by Egypt to EMG was well below market prices, and that the company made an easy profit without investment of its own (I’ll leave the issue of whether EMG sold the gas to Israel at a fair price aside.)

See on-line at:

Green Environment Consultants – About Us

February 17, 2011
GREEN is a professional partnership providing diverse specialised consulting and management services in environmentand sustainable development. Its clientele include governments,local and regional authorities, donor agencies, international
organizations, civil and non-governmental bodies, multi-national
corporations and the business/private sector community.
GREEN, initially formed by the grouping of a number of firms and consulting houses, and today comprising several specialised entities, brings together a team of experts and professionals that have been working together throughout the world for over
twenty years with in-depth expertise in all aspects related to environment and sustainable development. GREEN’s experts, consultants and full-time staff number more than three hundred people, utilizing state-of-the-art methodologies, technologies and equipment and adapting them to local needs, conditions and
resources wherever they work. The diversity and experience of GREEN and its staff has enabled it to act as a channel of technology, expertise and solutions between various countries and cultures, allowing it to positively and effectively contribute
to development.
GREEN is closely affiliated with several reputable companies and firms in most regions of the world that together offer cuttingedge services, technologies and solutions. In addition, GREEN is closely linked to the academic and research community, as well as several universities around the globe, expanding its valuable
research and development resources. Coupled with GREEN’s well-equipped mobile facilities, this adds up to enable GREEN to provide its clientele with the optimum solutions, both technically and financially, efficiently and effectively, on-time anywhere around the globe.


This piece is taken from the website of the Green Environment Consultants.

See on-line at:

Association for the Protection of the Environment (A.P.E) – About Us

February 17, 2011

APE is a non-government organization. Established in 1984 to improve the lives of garbage collectors, it is run by a 9 member board of trustees, a staff of over 50 and scores of volunteers drawn from various fields of special interest.

Today about 25,000 people live in the Mokattam (having grown from a population of 8,000 in the early 1980s) and almost all of them live off, or are involved in, garbage activities.

It is estimated that more than 40% of Cairo’s garbage is not collected formally. The garbage collectors- the zabbaleen- handle this part of the garbage produced by the 19 million inhabitants of Cairo at no cost to the city authorities.

Specifically this means that the zabbaleen collect about 7,000 tons of garbage every day and up to 90 per cent of that waste is recycled by them directly.

Since no one pays them to collect the garbage, the zabbaleen make their living from recycling what they collect. This is why the garbage industry at the Mokattam is the most efficient recycling industry in the world.  At a price.

Most zabbaleen children have not had any access to formal education. Schools, until relatively recently, were not a feature of the garbage settlements and children from an early age work with their parents either sorting waste or helping on the collection routes.

In 1997 it was estimated that of the youngsters aged 12 to 14, 66 per cent of boys and 59 per cent of girls were working.

APE aim to make a real business out of the zabbaleen work by emphasis that recycling is an important industry and that development and environmental preservation are not incompatible.

One of the APE initiatives has been the construction of a centre for workshops producing patchwork and recycled paper products. Starting by collecting rags from the textile mills and factories, the centre today teaches more than 250 young women how to sort, design, cut, sew,  weave, iron and recycle these fabrics into patchwork quilts, bedspreads, rugs, bags and other marketable items. See more under APE activities.


This piece is taken from the website of the Association for the Protection of the Environment (A.P.E).

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Egyptian-Italian Environmental Cooperation Program (EIECP) – Wadi El Rayan Protected Area Project

February 13, 2011

The Wadi El Rayan Protected Area Project has been implemented during the period February 1998 – June 2001, and it has bee extended until end of October  2003. The objective of the project was to support the management of WRPA, thus contributing to the enhancement of Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs (MSEA) – Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) capabilities to put into practice nature conservation actions on a sustainable basis.

The project has substantially achieved its objectives, and has been successful in firmly establishing a well managed protected area. However, to ensure further sustainability to the results achieved, and to address new emerging priorities, it is  a second phase starting June 2004,  is currently under implementation.

The project is pursuing the general aim of “enhancing EEAA capabilities to plan and implement nature conservation on a sustainable basis, thus contributing to the preservation and protection of the biotic communities of plants and animals, as well as of the other natural features, of a portion of the Egyptian Western Desert”

More specifically, the project is pursuing the following objectives:

1. Strengthen the capacity of the PAMU to manage and conserve the WRPA ecosystem in accordance with internationally recognized guidelines and strategies related to the protection and sustainable management of natural resources and the approved management plan for the protected area. 

2. Strengthen the PAMU’s collaborative management with local stakeholders by supporting a participatory approach in the management of the PA as envisaged in the Management Planning System for Protected Areas used by NCS.

3. Promote the development of ecotourism based on the natural assets of WRPA in accordance with the management plan and the guidelines set out in the Investment Plan developed during the first phase of the project.

4. Promote the WRPA as a leading site for environmental education and communication through development of field-based activities, which address biodiversity conservation and sustainable development issues and enhance public support for the protection of the area (in accordance with the management plan).

5. Strengthen the integration of the recreational and educational function of Wadi El Rayan and Medinet Madi to contribute to the broader development of sustainable tourism in the Fayoum district.

6. Develop and implement a site-specific plan for the conservation of the Wadi Hitan area of WRPA as a world heritage site, ensuring the long-term participation of local stakeholders and the private sector in the sound and collaborative management of the site.

7. Enhance the management capacity of the environmental office (EMU) in the Fayoum Governorate to enable it to fulfill its environmental protection function in support of WRPA effectively

Based on the project’s seven specific objectives, the following seven key outputs are envisaged each arising from a series of targeted activities:

  • Output 1. The PAMU is strengthened through the enhancement of its administrative and technical capacities and increased financial sustainability.
  • Output 2. Key stakeholders are involved in the collaborative management of the protected area.
  • Output 3. The ecotourism sector linked to the PA is developed and diversified.
  • Output 4. Wadi El Rayan becomes a leading site for environmental education.
  • Output 5. The recreational and educational functions of Wadi El Rayan and Medinet Madi are integrated.
  • Output 6. The Wadi Hitan area of the WRPA is effectively managed as a world heritage site.
  • Output 7. The enhancement of the management capacity of the EMU office in the Fayoum Governorate.

This piece is taken from the website of the Egyptian-Italian Environmental Cooperation Program (EIECP).

See on-line at:


Egyptian-Italian Environmental Cooperation Program (EIECP) – Solid Waste Management in El Minyia Governorate

February 13, 2011

The project aims at providing the necessary support to el Minya Governorate to properly manage its Solid Waste. In particular the project is addressing the institutional, information, technical and financial needs for a sound and effective Solid Waste Management system.

The Project will further serve as model to replicate in the other rural governorates in Egypt. In addition, the project will implement a pilot action in El Miniya Governorate. This pilot action would be identified as a priority component of the system.

In particular the project expected results could be summarized as follows :

  • A set of updated data, specific on Solid Waste Management in El Minya Governorate. 
  • An Executive, ready – for- implementation plan for the establishment of a comprehensive, sustainable and integrated SWM scheme for the entire Governorate of El Minya; such a scheme will be conceptualized and designed. 
  • Solid Waste Management Unit ( SWMU) established – and consolidated of SWM within the Governorate, as well as the provision of technical and managerial support to the decentralized authorities.
  • A number of planning, engineering as well as operating staff and workers of El –Minya Governorate trained and experienced on the job, with respect to their competence within the identified SWM cycle ( with particular focus on SWMU staff ). 
  • A Geographical Information System (GIS ) and a database integrated in a Decision Support System ( DSS ), with the objective of advancement of planning and management of collection disposal and treatment options for solid wastes.
  • Both the central, as well as 10 of the peripherals nodes of a ( to be established) data collected network for the feeding of DSS / database, put in operation.
  • A comprehensive document defining clear, reliable and applicable engineering standards for the design, implementation and operation of adequate SWM schemes in Rural Governorates.
  • A demonstrative Pilot Action, aimed at the validation of the methodologies developed within the Project. Such a Pilot will be carried out on a selected geographic and/or thematic restricted scope, to be identified as a result  of Project Task I activities. The definite identification (construction of landfill, rehabilitation of composting plant, improvement of the efficiency of waste collection within a cluster area…) of such a Pilot Action will be adjusted also to the amount of funds available ( to be secured from a new project budget through Debt-for-Development Swap operations, Governorate fund, etc…).
  •  A set of detailed reports, defining ways and methods to enhance sustainability and effectiveness of Project outputs, as well as their updating. Such reports, to be formulated and issued periodically, will build upon the experiences gained and lesson learned during Project implementation.
  • New, and/or enhancement of ongoing, physical infrastructure development project to be established within the SWM reference framework.

The Project is managed and implemented with the full participation of the Governorate and will link with privatization efforts of the Governorate and will follow the national Solid Waste Management Program directives.

This piece is taken from the website of the Egyptian-Italian Environmental Cooperation Program (EIECP).

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Egyptian-Italian Environmental Cooperation Program (EIECP) – Siwa Environmental Amelioration Project

February 13, 2011

The Siwa Environmental Amelioration Project (SEAP) has been implemented during the period May 1998 – May 2001, and it has subsequently extended, closing formally on October 2003. The objective of the project was to contribute to the economic development and environmental amelioration of Siwa by supporting community activities aimed at the sustainable development and at the conservation of natural resources. The working methodology has been based on participatory approach, seeking the full involvement of the local community, while respecting the Siwan tradition and culture, including the traditional power, and the administrative formal authorities in place. The project has substantially achieved its objectives. However, to ensure further sustainability to the results achieved and to widening its benefit to the area, a second phase has been financed. 

The architecture of SEAP-Phase II, implemented under the umbrella of the Egyptian Italian Environmental Cooperation Program-Phase II/ EIECP, is based on four components reflecting the proposed widening of the project’s scope. These components are: Development of Sustainable Agriculture; Strengthening the Siwa Community Development Environment Conservation  (SCDEC / Siwa Association); Strengthening the Protected Area; and Solid Waste Management.

The project is pursuing the following general objective: “to contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of natural and cultural resources in the Siwa region”. 

The followings are the specific development objectives of the four Project components:

The expected outputs/results are the followings:

Development  of sustainable agriculture 

Based on the sub-component’s six specific objectives, nine key outputs have been tentatively identified, each arising from a series of targeted activities.

Output 1. The production technologies introduced in respect to soil, water and crop management have been refined through the cropping, monitoring and follow-up of 188 plots (equivalent to 202 fed.) completed within the 3 years Project period, and 22 plots (22 fed) planned for the extension period, for a total of 210 plots covering 224 fed. With the establishment of a new area of 32 fed. put under adaptive research Modules, the total area cropped and monitored results of 256 fed..  

Output 2. Organic farming technology has been developed and at the end of the conversion period the harvests have been certified as organic over an area of 10 fed. Less known crops have been tested and monitored over an area of 20 fed. for their introduction in the cropping patterns.

Output 3. The changes of soil properties across the years have been monitored through 600 soil samples. The water management has been monitored through installation of about 230 piezometrs, 50 V-Notch and measurements taken from the micro irrigation system. Landscape changes have been monitored through photo-documentation. 

Output 4. The crop production has been evaluated in term of suitability of the crops in the prevailing conditions in term of some growth parameters. The development of crops in different modules (individual and intercropped) has been monitored. The cropping patterns in term of rotation/soil fertility/pest, diseases and weeds control have been assessed.

Output 5. The economics of various cropping patterns have been assessed through financial analysis of inputs/outputs ratio, taking into account marketing opportunities and prices throughout the year. These analyses have been compared with the traditional farming system. The socio-economic impact of the new cropping patterns/farming systems on family income and the changes likely taking place on family labour force and livelihood, market labour force, etc. has been assessed.  

Output 6. Income generating initiatives linked to sustainable agriculture have been developed: a Livestock Demonstration Farm for sheep and goat has been established, which also provides balanced rations and other services to local market; 100 sheep/goats and 40 buffalo/cows have been distributed to participating farmers, partly women; a nursery and 10 poles have been established for fish farming.  The existing animals from the first phase will be followed-up and monitored.  

Output 7. Women beneficiaries have been trained and provided with 10 spinning wheels to introduce the utilization of the wool by processing it into yarns and then into carpets. Equipment to better utilize the milk produced from buffalo, cows and goats for processing to products such as yogurt, cheese, and butter for household consumption and possibly for marketing has been distributed to 10 trained women. 

Output 8. The level of knowledge of local community members and Project staff, young generations and women has been enhanced through training done in the field, homes and demonstration farms giving high respect to local traditions and customary habits. The training has covered various Project activities. The participatory approach adopted has facilitated the effectiveness of the advices and recommendations given to beneficiaries and the transfer of his findings and problems to the specialists. 

Output 9. Collaborative agreements with specialized Institutions/Organizations have been signed and implemented. The specific scientific support has been provided to the Project, while the Institutions have been benefited from the fieldwork implemented with the participating community. Thus the findings are based on solid basis, more reliable and reflecting the prevailing conditions of the Siwa region. Siwan community has been provided with a well-equipped Laboratory, able to respond in time and reliably to all the needed information required for an effective sustainable management of natural resources.

Strengthening the SCDEC/Siwan Association

Based on the sub-component’s five specific objectives, five key outputs have been tentatively identified, each arising from a series of targeted activities.

Output 1. SCDEC effectively manages and monitors the local credit scheme that supports socio-economic and environmental sustainable development initiatives. 

Output 2. Establishment of a well-functioning and self-sustaining micro-crediting mechanism managed by SCDEC

Output 3. The Window service has been established, delivering technical information, technical booklets and preparing feasibility studies.  There is also broad awareness within the community about the existence and the opportunities offered by the micro-crediting mechanism and the window for technical assistance.

Output 4.  Agro-industrial processing units (on its own or in partnership with the private sector) are established.  Marketing and sales opportunities for the Siwan community are enhanced in a coordinated manner.

Output 5. More social equity and empowerment of Siwan women and marginalized groups are pursued through their access to micro-crediting scheme. Women and marginalized groups become important actors, within Siwan association framework structure, of initiatives promoted by NGOs in cultural heritage preservation, handicraft production and ecotourism.

Strengthening Siwa – Protected Area

Output 1. Institutional capacity for field conservation enabled through legal, human resources and infrastructure development

Output 2. Collaborative management of the protected area is operational based on the    adaptive, equitable and sustainable use of biodiversity resources

Output 3. Monitoring and evaluation of biodiversity resources, their utilization and management has been tested, and a system is operational 

Output 4. Information Education Communication (IEC) efforts are building local and national constituencies for biodiversity conservation

Output 5. Ecotourism is managed to demonstrate innovative, environmentally-compatible, economic activities meeting sustainable livelihood needs 

Output 6. An overall biodiversity strategy and action plan for the Siwa region is developed and biodiversity conservation is firmly inscribed on the local development agenda

Output 7. The management capacity of the Environmental Management Unit of the Matrouh Governorate is enhanced


Solid Waste Management 

In order to achieve the objectives of the Project Task, the following outputs/results will be produced:

Output A-1:  An updated solid waste related database that will include general attributes of the Siwa Oasis and the solid waste specific attributes. It will also include a map of Siwa showing available routes and their traffic capacity, population concentration and growth trends, and the location of commercial and industrial activities.  

Output B-1: An executive, ready-for-implementation plan for the establishment of a comprehensive and sustainable SWM scheme for the entire Siwa Oasis. 

Output B-2: An improved and implemented SWM scheme. Depending on the outcome of B-1, this new scheme will improve the existing collection system and making it more comprehensive. Collection systems might include household and commercial waste containers, collection vehicles and equipment upgrade, and the organization and equipping of collection workers, (such as the provision of protective clothing). The scheme might also include the addition of temporary waste storage and transfer points, equipment for waste transfer, and the procedures for operating and maintaining these facilities and equipment. Furthermore, the SWM scheme will improve the operation of the existing dumpsite located 10 km north of the town of Siwa  (on Marsa Matrouh road).  

Output C-1:  A framework for an Operations Unit (OU), which will assume the responsibility of planning, managing and monitoring the execution of the SWM scheme. On the basis of this framework, the following will be set: job descriptions, training needs assessments, and work force development plans.

Output C-2: Operating the OU after being supported with qualified staff and workers. 

Output D-1: A set of documents and reports as a part of a mechanism that will assure the sustainability and functionality of the Siwa SWM Project. These documents will also emphasize the continuous updating of the data related to solid waste and the continuous measurement of the outputs of the Project task. 

Output D-2:  Bi-annual follow-up reports addressing the outputs of the task implementation and monitoring the sustainability of the operations. 

Moreover, two Italian NGOs (Ricerca & Cooperazione and COSPE) will integrate, in autonomous administrative structured organization, the activities undertaken by SEAP in the fields of cultural heritage, hand-crafts and ecotourism, aiming respectively to rehabilitate the local constructions, to revive the local traditions and to promote sustainable tourism, stimulating the overall development of income generating activities. A close coordination and collaboration with the NGOs will thus help the Project to enhance its level of effectiveness in addressing social development.

This piece is taken from the website of the Egyptian-Italian Environmental Cooperation Program (EIECP).

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Egyptian-Italian Environmental Cooperation Program (EIECP) – Legal and Institutional Framework Project

February 13, 2011

The Legal and Institutional Framework Project (LIFP)is a component of Phase II of the Egyptian-Italian Environmental Cooperation Program (EIECP). The program aims at contributing “to the protection of Egypt’s natural and cultural resources”. The Phase II of EIECP will have a life span of three years, starting from the 1st June 2004.

The general objective of the Legal and Institutional Framework Project is addressing weaknesses and inconsistencies of some specific areas of the environmental legislation and its implementation, and to strengthen the Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs / Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency’s capability to cope with legal environmental issues, its institutional role with respect to the other public institutions, and therefore its capability to impose environmental considerations as cross-sector issues. 

The Project pursues the following specific objectives, related to the priority thematic areas identified during the preparation of both the Program and the Project:

Solid Waste Management: To redraft solid waste management legislation with a view of having harmonized and integrated legislation, matching with the recent developments.
Protected Areas: To improve the effectiveness of legislation on protected areas.
Marine Environment: To enhance Egyptian legislation for the protection of marine environment, through a more effective implementation of international and regional conventions as well as national legislation.  
Capacity Building: To strengthen the legislative and regulatory role of MSEA/ EEAA through building the legal capacity of EEAA, and to educate and train judicial officers, prosecutors and judges on legal environmental issues, as well as EEAA, Governorates and field officers.

The expected outputs are the followings:

Solid Waste Management

  1. New solid waste management regime (or parts of it) drafted.
  2. Inconsistencies, overlapping and contradictions between existing SWM legislation identified and proposed for elimination.  
  3. Internationally accepted environmental standards for the construction and operation of solid waste   management facilities compiled and prepared. 
  4. Quality and environmental standards to be followed by solid waste management private entities established (e.g. standards to be specified in the concession from the public authority to the private entity in order to ensure that the service is managed properly).
  5. Roles and responsibilities of the entities involved in solid waste management (EEAA, decentralized offices, NGOs, private sector), with regard to the different phases of policy, planning, regulation, monitoring  and enforcement with specific attention to the distinction between the entities responsible for operations and the entities responsible for regulation and control, well defined.
  6. Incentive measures for waste reduction, recycling and composting proposed.

Protected Areas

  1. A report assessing the state of the art of compliance with Law n. 102 of 1983 in selected protected areas prepared.
  2. Guidelines for the correct implementation of Laws, Executive Regulations and Decrees directly or indirectly relevant to protected areas elaborated.
  3. Reform of existing licensing system for activities within protected areas and an adapted system proposed.
  4. Rules providing for delimitation of strictly protected zones, with respect to areas where activities compatible with the environment can be allowed, elaborated.
  5. Rules disciplining the exercise of allowed activities within protected areas, including the use of natural resources, elaborated.
  6. A report clarifying the relationship between central and local EEAA offices (with a view to decentralizing   responsibilities, also with respect to the management of local funds coming from entrance fees and fines), and between EEAA and other Ministries and organizations (especially with reference to licenses and controls) prepared.

Note  All the above results will be obtained with respect to the selected protected areas (see above Objectives).  These would include Wadi El Rayan and at least another protected area falling under EIECP.  The findings and outputs will then be generalized to the best possible extent to the Egyptian protected area network.

Marine Environment

  1. International conventions on marine environment of interest for Egypt, distinguishing among those that  have already been signed or ratified, and those, whose adoption is suggested, collected.
  2. Guidelines for appropriate implementation of the International Conventions, to which Egypt is party, drafted.
  3. Legislative and regulatory means for implementation of international conventions concerning marine environment determined.
  4. Real cases of environmental damages affecting the marine environment addressed and settled (to the possible   extent, depending on judicial system times) through application of international conventions.

Capacity Building 

  1. EEAA Legal Affairs Department legislative and regulatory role strengthened.
  2. Legal Affairs Department negotiation skills, especially concerning compensation for environmental damages, namely for the marine environment, enhanced.
  3. Training programs prepared and implemented for EEAA relevant departments, judicial officers, prosecutors,  judges, governorates’ officers. This will focus on
    1. solid waste management, 
    2. protected areas, and
    3. marine environment.

The targets will be achieved through implementation of the activities as described in the Project document.

Legal Training Course for Specialized Environmental Judges

“Activation of the Implementation of the Egyptian Environmental Legislation”

Cairo, 10th – 12th October 2009

The Legal and Institutional Framework Project (LIFP) organized a three days Training Course for environmental judges which took place in the premises of Cairo House from the 10th to the 12th of October 2009. It concerned the legal aspects of the environmental legislation and aimed at building specific capacities related to the implementation of the Egyptian environmental legislation, in particular Law No. 4 of 1994 as amended in 2009.

The Training Course was the last one of a turn of events organized by the LIFP Project in the sector of Legal Capacity Building: during its lifespan, more than 15 training courses were held and quite thousand environmental judges and prosecutors were trained. The Training Course on subject was attended by more than 40 Egyptian environmental judges and it was focused on several environmental topics from both the international and the national perspectives.

The issues addressed varied from the legal regimes deriving from international environmental conventions (i.e. the Basel Convention and the Kyoto Protocol) to the main features of the Environmental Law No. 4 of 1994, the legal aspects of the management of hazardous waste, the procedures of the environmental impact system, the rules on environmental quality and air pollution and the legal regime of protected areas.


The final ceremonial session of the Training Course was attended by the Director of Development Cooperation Office of the Italian Embassy Dr. Ginevra Letizia, the National Manager of LIFP Gen. Ahmed El Anwer, the International Co-manager and Senior Technical Advisor of LIFP Prof. Sergio Marchisio, the UNDP Officer Mrs. Amany Nakhla, the PCU Coordinator Dr. Luca Montaccini and other members of the PMU of LIFP. It reaffirmed the importance of the activities of Capacity Building within the LIFP Project and of the common purposes and perspectives of the bilateral cooperation program between Italy and Egypt.

The Egyptian Ministers for Environmental Affairs, Maged George, and of Justice, Mamdouh Moheiddin Marei, underlined on several occasions the importance of LIFP Project in the field of environmental protection and legal capacity building. Minister George reaffirmed its deep appraisal for LIFP during the bilateral meeting with the Italian Minister for the Environment, Stefania Prestigiacomo, held in 2009 during the G8 Environment Summit of Siracusa.

Workshop “LIFP – Lessons Learned and Future Perspectives” –

Rome, 3rd July 2009

Programme of the workshop

An  international Workshop on LIFP activities, entitled Lessons Learned and Future Perspectives, was held on 3rd July 2009 in Rome. It was attended by Egyptian and Italian experts, and by some representatives of Italian Institutions, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry for Environment, the Institute for International Legal Studies and the National Research Council. The Workshop aimed at the promotion of the achievements of LIFP during its lifespan (2006-2009) and at the assessment of its future perspectives in the framework of a new partnership between Egypt and Italy.

Eng. Guido Benevento, Italian Cooperation Advisor – Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs The Egyptian-Italian Environmental Cooperation Program Powerpoint Presentation
Gen. Ahmed El Anwer, LIFP National Manager The Role of LIFP in the Protection of Egyptian Environment and its Main Achievements from 2006 until 2009 Powerpoint Presentation
Prof. Sergio Marchisio, LIFP International Co-Manager and Senior Technical Advisor The Core Role of LIFP in the Framework of Egyptian-Italian Cooperation: Concepts and Achievements Powerpoint Presentation
Mrs. Amany Nakhla, UNDP Program Officer The Role of UNDP in supporting the Egyptian-Italian Partnership and the Implementation of LIFP Activities Powerpoint Presentation
Mr. Tarek Salah, LIFP Senior Legal Officer The Egyptian System of Protected Areas Powerpoint Presentation
Dr. Ihab Tarek, LIFP National Co-Manager Assistant The Role of LIFP to Support and Develop the Judicial System: the Institution of Environmental Judges in Egyptian Courts Powerpoint Presentation 1

Powerpoint Presentation 2

Dr. Lorenzo Schiano di Pepe, LIFP Marine Environment International Consultant The Protection of Marine Environment in the Egyptian Legislation Powerpoint Presentation
Dr. Ornella Ferrajolo, IILS Researcher Capacity Building for Promoting Compliance with Environmental Law: the IILS Experience Paper


This piece is taken from the website of the Egyptian-Italian Environmental Cooperation Program (EIECP).

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Egyptian-Italian Environmental Cooperation Program (EIECP) – Gabal Elba Protected Area

February 13, 2011

Gabal Elba Protected Area project  (hereinafter referred as GEPA) is a component of Phase II of the Egyptian-Italian Environmental Cooperation Program (EIECP).

Phase II of the EIECP has been prepared to follow-up and build on the successes of Phase I. It includes several components to assist the Nature Conservation Sector of EEAA: the Capacity Building and Institutional Support to NCS (NCSP), that seeks to build technical capacities at the central level, while providing overall technical backstopping to the protected area projects of Gabal ElbaWadi El Rayan and Siwa. Thus, the GEPA project has been designed as part of a fully integrated Protected Area component of the EIECP.

The project is pursuing the general aim of “enhancing EEAA capabilities to plan and implement nature conservation on a sustainable basis, thus contributing to the preservation and protection of biotic communities of plants and animals, as well as of the other natural features, of a portion of the Egyptian Western desert”.

More specifically the project is pursuing the following objectives:

1. Prepare the first Management Plan for the ongoing management of GEPA in accordance with the Management Planning System for protected areas.

2. Strengthen the capacity of the PAMU to manage GEPA in accordance with its Management Plan through the provision of technical assistance, staff and equipment.

3. Prepare a funding plan for GEPA aimed at attracting  development funding  for the protected area. The plan must outline the major  interventions and actions   needed for the firm establishment and management  of the Elba National Park as a major component of the Egyptian PA system

4. Identify possible sources of funding for implementing the  funding plan

5. Collate all existing scientific data on GEPA and collect the additional data essential for drawing up meaningful  management and funding plans.

6. Develop a local environmental awareness program and initiate local development projects based on the natural resource base

7. Conclude collaborative agreements with key agencies  operating in the PA.

8. Prepare an action plan aimed at initiating co-operation with Wadi Allaqi PA with a view to holding discussions with Sudan on a trans-boundary effort to preserve the whole ecosystem.

Based on the project’s objectives, eight key outputs have been identified, each arising from a series of targeted activities.

Output 1. The first Management Plan for GEPA in accordance with the Management Planning System for protected areas is prepare

Output 2. The capacity of the PAMU to manage GEPA in accordance with its Management Plan is strengthened

Output 3. A funding plan for GEPA, aimed at attracting national or international development funding for the protected area, is prepared, outlining the major interventions and actions needed for the firm establishment and management of the GEPA as a major component of the Egyptian PA System

Output 4. Possible sources of funding for implementing the funding plan are identified

Output 5. All existing scientific data on GEPA is collated and additional data essential for drawing up a meaningful management and funding plans is collected.

Output 6. Local environmental awareness is strengthened and local natural resource based development projects are initiated

Output 7 Collaboration agreements are concluded with all key agencies working in the area.

Output 8. An action plan initiating co-operation with Wadi Allaqi PA with a view to holding discussions with Sudan on a possible a trans-boundary effort to preserve the whole ecosystem is implemented.

This piece is taken from the website of the Egyptian-Italian Environmental Cooperation Program (EIECP).

See on-line at: