center development services

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
  • Environment

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

+ Adaptation to Impacts of Sea Level Rise in the Nile Delta Coastal Zone, Canadian International Development and Research Center
CDS is implementing this three-year research project in collaboration with the Coastal Research Institute and the Institute of Graduate studies and Research at Alexandria University. The project aims to demonstrate the value of stakeholders' participation in evaluating the trade-offs between the different adaptation options in the stretch between Ras el-Bar and Gamasa along Egypt's northern coast, as well as contribute to the long-term sustainable management of coastal areas in Egypt. Egyptian coastal population, already affected by coastal erosion, pollution, land use pressures, demographic growth, poverty, and ecosystem degradation, are vulnerable to the effects of sea level rise.

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)

+ New Land New Life - Climate Change in Lake Nasser Area, Canadian International Development and Research Center
This action research program addressed the potential human and environmental effects of climate change in the resettlement area west of Lake Nasser. CDS implemented this collaborative research program with the High Dam Lake Development Authority, University of South Valley in Aswan, Cologne University of Applied Sciences, Aswan Educational Hospital, Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs, Ministry of Health & Population, Ministry of Agriculture & Land Reclamation, and National Research Center.

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
+ Agriculture Investment Company, West of Lake Nasser
In 2009, CDS has gone even further in its involvement in the agricultural sector when it embarked on creating a new Egyptian business venture for land reclamation and animal husbandry in the western Lake Nasser region; the Agricultural Investors Company (AIC).

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
+ Towards Sustainable Livelihoods Strategy, Agro‐Ecology West of Lake Nasser, Canadian International Development and Research Center
With the Canadian International Development and Research Center (IDRC) support, CDS implemented this three-year research project to explore the potential of agro- ecology as a strategy for sustainable livelihoods for low income settler communities living in fragile ecosystems.

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)

+ Capacity Building of Local Agricultural Cooperatives, Egyptian-Italian Cooperation Fund
This 3-year project, part of a larger mega LE 47m project developed by CDS together with the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation and financed by the Government of Egypt and the Egyptian-Italian Cooperation Fund, aimed to develop sustainable means to meet the needs of farmers in desert reclamation settlements - villages in Fayoum, Beni Suef, Sohag, Assuit and Aswan Governorates – thus, improving living standards of the rural poor and encouraging the expansion of land reclamation.

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)

+ Cotton Sector Promotion Project, Participatory Extension, GIZ
CDS provided a variety of extension, communication and facilitation skills workshops to extension workers as part of the German Government Agency GIZ's Cotton Sector Promotion Project and in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Public Works and Water Resources.

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
+ Fayoum Irrigation Management Project, Dutch Embassy
Funded by the Dutch Embassy, this project aimed to improve how Water Users Associations (WUAs) can be managed especially addressing their legal status. CDS conducted a research to outline the options available for legal registration of WUAs. The options were presented to the WUAs and recommendations were drafted for policy-making. The main recommendation of the research, to put the WUAs under the auspices of the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, was successfully adopted by the government of Egypt. (2004)

+ Participatory Rapid Appraisal (PRA) for Water User Associations
CDS was commissioned to train and build the capacity of a team of researchers from El-Minnya University's Laboratory for Soil.
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)
+ Alexandria Water Authority Service Master Plan , Camp Dresser & McKee
CDS provided institutional services to engage community participation in the improvement of water services for the urban poor in pilot areas in Alexandria, through a sub‐contract to by Camp Dresser & McKee,. This project was conducted as part of a larger USAID‐funded effort aimed at developing a Master Plan for water services in Alexandria by the year 2022.

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)

Program theme:Environment
+ Environmental Upgrading and Economic Revitalization of Al Darb Al Ahmar District, Aga KhanTrust/ Near East Foundation
This five‐year mega project has been carried out by CDS in partnership with the Agha Khan Trust for Culture and the Near East Foundation, with the overall aim to alleviate major socio‐economic problems in old historic Cairo.

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)
+ Catalytic Role of Women in Environmental Governance, World Bank
The main goal of this World Bank-funded project was to empower 'rural women' with the necessary knowledge and tools to play a more active and participatory role in environmental monitoring and governance. CDS implemented this project in participation with community groups and other stakeholders in three selected communities in three different governorates in Egypt (Sohag , Beheira , and El-Minnya.

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)

+ Environmental Impact Assessment of the Maadi Rock Tunnel, DFID
An Environmental Impact Assessment was carried out by CDS, aiming at predicting the environmental consequences, both positive and negative, of the construction and operation of the Maadi Rock Tunnel.

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)