The Minister of International Cooperation, Rania Al-Mashat met with Egypt’s new World Food Programme (WFP) Country Director, Praveen Agrawal who began his official responsibilities this month in August 2021.
The two discussed areas of joint cooperation and Al-Mashat explained the Ministry’s framework that aims to strengthen multilateral and bilateral relations in support of the country’s development agenda and to ensure progress in the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Al-Mashat first congratulated Agrawal on assuming the new position, wishing him success in building on the achievements of all the effective development projects and partnerships established during the previous country director’s leadership, Menghestab Haile.
Al-Mashat also reviewed the Ministry’s mandate issued by the Decree of the President of the Republic of Egypt No. 303 of 2004, committing the Ministry to develop and strengthen the economic cooperation between the Arab Republic of Egypt and other countries as well as international and regional organizations; propose the criteria for obtaining external financing, both funds and grants; follow-up and monitor ministries and national agencies that benefit from foreign financing within the framework of the general economic policy of the country to ensure achieving the economic development goals; and manage Egypt’s economic relations with international organizations of economic cooperation, the international financial institutions and specialized agencies of the United Nations.
The Ministry of International Cooperation has been working to strengthen Egypt’s Economic Diplomacy through three main principles: the regular organization of Multi-Stakeholder Platforms to ensure that all projects between development partners are streamlined and effectively aligned with the national agenda and the SDGs; the mapping of the ODA financing to the SDGs for all projects with multilateral and bilateral development partners; and the adoption of a consistent Global Partnerships Narrative that puts People at the Core through Projects in Action, with Purpose as the Driver.
Al-Mashat elaborated on the Ministry’s aspirations in expanding partnerships with the WFP, particularly in the field of developing both rural and low-income communities in Upper Egypt. The Minister also expressed the importance of strengthening relations within the scope of the new 2023-2027 WFP Country Strategy in Egypt that falls within the current Partnership Development Framework (UNPDF); supporting the participation of relevant entities from the government, private sector, and civil society in achieving the country’s development vision.
The Minister discussed the possibility of transforming the Luxor Center for Innovation and Knowledge Sharing into a center of excellence, being the first of its kind in Africa and becoming part of the WFP Centers of Excellence, which are platforms that achieve food security by tackling malnutrition in developing countries through the exchange of knowledge and experiences.
From his part, Agrawal said that the WFP seeks to focus on joint cooperation with Egypt within the new 2023-2027 framework in specific pillars; food security and nutrition, building community resilience, social protection, private sector participation, and refugee support, all in coordination with the Ministry of International Cooperation and relevant national authorities.
Agrawal also applauded the development efforts undertaken by the Government of Egypt on the economic and social levels.
The WFP, part of the UN, began its work in Egypt in 1968. Implementing projects in coordination with the Ministry of International Cooperation, the 2023-2027 program aims to achieve food security and improve food practices within the current strategic framework.
The current portfolio amounts to $586 million and encompasses a variety of projects addressing agricultural and rural development in Upper Egypt. In the first phase of project implementation, 63 villages across 5 governorates have benefited from the development interventions.
Agrawal was appointed as Egypt’s Country Director of WFP in August, and he previously worked as the WFP Country of Philippines from 2013 to 2017, and Colombia from 2007 to 2013. He also held positions in the WFP in Italy, Cambodia, Colombia and Bolivia, and he worked in the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Rome.