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Women’s dietary adequacy

Posted by Roxanna Samii Friday, July 25, 2014 0 comments

by Marian Amaka Odenigbo 

On 15 and 16 July 2014, FAO/USAID/FANTA organized a meeting on the global dietary diversity indicator for assessing the micronutrient adequacy of women’s diets in Washington DC, USA. IFAD was among the development agencies present at this meeting. Participants were challenged to reach a consensus on a global indicator for assessing women's dietary adequacy based on the Women’s Dietary Diversity Project (WDDP-II) draft report. The diets of resource-poor population are very monotonous, dominated by starchy staples which fail to meet micronutrients needs. Women of reproductive age are among the nutritionally vulnerable groups and their poor micronutrient intake  harm not only themselves, but also their children.

WDDP is designed to respond to the need for a simple global indicator of women’s diet quality with specific focus on micronutrient adequacy. WDDP uses existing datasets from women’s dietary intake in resource-poor settings. It analyses the relationship between dietary diversity and micronutrient adequacy and serves as a proxy for the micronutrient adequacy of women’s diets.

The first phase of WDDP-I resulted in  a candidate indicator of 9-food group which was adopted in several FAO-supported programmes. However, this 9-food group indicator was not adopted for use on a more global basis due to the preference to use a  dichotomous indicator. Dichotomous indicator relies on cut-offs for the choice of positive and negative options.  Based on this, FAO initiated the follow-on project (WDDP II) to address the need for a dichotomous women’s dietary diversity indicator. On completion of WDDPII, two candidate indicators were selected: (i) 9-food group (FGI-9R); and (ii) 10-food group (FGI-10R).
During the course of the two-day meeting,  participants engaged in extensive discussions on the uses, merits and limitations of each candidate indicator. As a result, the participants reach an agreement to adopt  dichotomous indicator with a cut off of ≥5 food groups. Finally, a consensus was reached with a unanimous vote for FGI-10R. In regards to operationalization and communication of the selected FGI-10R indicator, FAO will be issuing recommendations and guidelines.

IFAD is one of the potential future users of this indicator for tracking and assessing progress from agriculture interventions to dietary diversity. The FAO recommendations and guidelines on this indicator will support the operationalization of IFAD’s revised results and impact management system (RIMS) that is currently under development which includes measurement of dietary diversity. Assessing the progress in women's dietary adequacy is relevant in IFAD-supported operations for food and nutrition security because it  will enhance IFAD’s commitment to women's empowerment and particularly the nutrition contribution to smallholder female farmers in the resource-poor settings.

Read more: Interested in finding out more on this topic, please consult Dietary Diversity as a Measure of the Micronutrient Adequacy of Women’s Diets in Resource-Poor Areas


Hakizamungu shows off one of the completed water tanks. 
The Kirehe Community-based Watershed Management Project (KWAMP) supports community innovations and sharing of information through community competitions, called ‘Inteko y’Imihigo'. Different village committees come up with Natural Resources Management Plans and the cooperatives present business proposals that address their most pressing need for funding. The case study on these community competitions by IFADAfrica shows that they are a very good example of south-south and grass root knowledge exchange. In Kirehe District, there are amazing results of the practice.
Cyanika village won the Inteko y’Imihigo in 2013 with their proposal for improvised water storage tanks or ‘water baskets’, called agaseke in Kinyarwanda. The tanks are made by digging a ditch in the ground, laying it with a water retention plastic sheet, and then constructing a small ‘house-like’ structure over it above the ground using locally made bricks, mud and wattle. The structure is covered with iron sheets, through which a gutter pipe linked to the main house will feed water into the tank during the rainy season, where it is kept for use during the dry season.

A completed water tank, waiting to be filled when it rains.
The challenge facing Cyanika village is that for people living on the hillsides and hill tops, far from the small streams, rivers and marshlands in the valleys, the soils turn hard and crusty during the dry season. And during raining seasons, the heavy down pours destroy dwellings. This makes it difficult for families to have vegetables and fruits, causing most of the children to suffer from malnutrition and other related ailments. One of the village members, Hakizamungu  Etienne, had visited the village of Gatore and found that farmers used to harvest water during the rainy season and use it to maintain their kitchen gardens during the dry season.

Hakizamungu brought the idea to Cyanika and they put it in their ‘Inteko  y’Imihigo’. They proposed to make 30 tanks to cater for the 90 households in the village at the time, with at least 3 households sharing a tank. By May 2014, they had constructed 15 tanks.

We hope to finish the rest of the tanks before the rains come. As you can see, we already started doing the kitchen gardens to improve our diet. We need water to keep the vegetables growing and fresh," says Hakizamungu
During the dry season, the water will be fetched out and used to irrigate the kitchen gardens around the homestead, as well as for other domestic purposes. This is yet another ‘water for agriculture’ innovation in Kirehe, under KWAMP.  
Our future plan is that the households hosting the water tank will work with their neighbours and support them to put up other tanks. In the end, we hope that each household will have its own water tank, says Hakizamungu Edward, the leader of the Inteko y'imihigo in Cyanika

The main focus is to ensure that rural smallscale farmers have continuous access to proper nutrition as they are able to boost their diet with fruits and vegetables, as well as milk from the ‘one cow per household’ (Girinka) programme in Rwanda.

One of the cows from the Girinka project at a household in Cyanika.

Leveraging agriculture for nutrition

Posted by Roxanna Samii Sunday, July 20, 2014 0 comments

by Marian Amaka Odenigbo and Karima Cherif

Photo by Karima Cherif

On 11 June  to 5 July 2014  we participated in the supervision and implementation support mission for IFAD-funded projects and programmes in Malawi and Zambia.

Over the last years, IFAD is focusing more on nutrition sensitive interventions and as a nutrition specialist, my role is to make sure IFAD-funded programmes are nutrition-sensitive.

In reviewing IFAD-funded programmes and projects, we are retrofitting ongoing investment activities to make sure they are nutrition sensitive, while making sure that  newly designed and upcoming interventions are nutrition sensitive.

To this end, we’ve made sure that the project staff and supervision team are sensitized on nutrition-sensitive agriculture.

In the case of Rural Livelihoods and Economic Enhancement Programme (RLEEP) one of the on-going projects in Malawi, we identified activities supporting nutrition-sensitive interventions. The programme is commended for its preventive measure on aflatoxin control in groundnut. Aflatoxins are  toxic produced by fungi on crops like groundnut and maize.

Groundnut is one of the value chain commodities of this programme and the intervention activities included the distribution of an energy and time saving hand sheller to prevent aflatoxin. This technology is helping to reduce workload of women farmers, thus allowing them more time to provide care giving and to contribute to making sure the family benefits from a sound nutritious diet.

To further improve the nutrition of the target group, the supervision team recommendations included strengthening and extending the awareness building campaign of aflatoxin impact on markets, to health and nutrition. This recommendation helps preventing the adverse impact on beneficiaries considering that the chronic exposure and regular intake of aflatoxin contaminated food and livestock feeds bring about chronic malnutrition.

We’re pleased to hear from beneficiaries how the integrated nutrition value chain (INVC)  training supported by USAID in partnership with the farmers Union of Malawi had helped the Nkhunguyembe Cooperative in ,Mchinji district to improve their dietary intake. This training had informed the beneficiaries on diverse food preparation and nutritious recipe formulation.

The mission commended this complementary activity as an opportunity for RLEEP to support value added product development such as plumpy nut to address the critical state of undernutrition in project location.

Multi-sectoral collaboration

In view of adopting the multi-sectoral strategy in addressing the various determinant of malnutrition, IFAD’s country office in Zambia is harmonizing its operations with the government and other development partners to support the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) initiative.

In Zambia, UN agencies have identified nutrition as a ‘signature area’ for the UN delivering as one given the government of Republic of Zambia (GRZ) commitment to SUN and its pledge to strengthen efforts to fight the critical state of undernutrition.

IFAD is an active member of the UN Technical Working Group (TWG) on Nutrition established to improve the multi-sectoral governance and multi-stakeholder nutrition actions towards nutrition challenges.

The UN team on the ground - FAO, IFAD, ILO, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP, WHO, UNAIDS, IOM, UNESCO -  have developed a letter of understanding which serves as a guide on roles and responsibilities of the various agencies vis-a-vis  nutrition interventions.

IFAD commitment as an active player in this joint UN initiative includes:

  • support to nutrition sensitive agriculture with focus on gender equality and women empowerment in addressing under nutrition during the first 1000 most critical days of life. 
  • focusing on diverse food production to ensure sustainable and adequate food access and consumption while addressing nutrition challenges.

  • support to nutritional outcomes of the major global food producers by supporting smallholder farmers through irrigation development and integrated homestead food production (IHFP). The programs on irrigation development and IHFP facilitate diversified dietary intake and generate income for improved livelihood.
  • focus on rural poor people, indigenous and marginalized population to promote and explore the nutritional potentials of local and neglected food varieties.

In Malawi, IFAD has engaged with the UN nutrition team for possible collaboration in its operations at various districts. For example UNICEF has a structure system for training of trainers and sensitization on nutrition. This presents an opportunity to collaborate with UNICEF to strengthen nutrition capacity of extension workers/ development agents at district levels in facilitating nutrition-sensitive agriculture interventions.

Malawi IFAD country office brings IFAD’s comparative advantages for engagement in the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) as a participating UN Organizations supporting the implementation of the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) II.

by  Marian Amaka Odenigbo and  Wiseman Kanyika

Irrigated agriculture for food and nutrition security
The vast majority of smallholder farmers in Malawi are food insecure and dependent on rain-fed agriculture. To respond to this challenge, IFAD in partnership with the World Bank is supporting the government of Malawi to rehabilitate and construct irrigation schemes to address the challenges of low productivity and increase profitability of Malawi’s agriculture sector.

One of the SRI Fields at
Nkhate Irrigation
Scheme-ChikwawaIFAD/IRLADP
Malawi’s agriculture sector relies primarily on maize and relies on mono-cropping practices resulting in  underemployment during the dry season.  Low production and productivity and lack of diversification in farming systems has led to persistent food insecurity, poor dietary intake, poverty and undernutrition.

IFAD funded irrigation systems in Malawi have helped farmers to adopt improved technologies such as irrigation farming, crop diversification and use of improved seeds and fertilizers. This has led to an increase in household income and improved access to different food varieties leading to a diversified diet.

Irrigation, Rural Livelihoods and Agricultural Development Programme (IRLADP)
An independent impact assessment survey assessed that the IFAD-funded Rural Livelihoods and Agricultural Development Project (IRLADP) had positive impact on the lives of beneficiaries and reduced the proportion of poor households by 21%, increased agricultural productivity by 68% and improved household incomes by 50%.

The survey observed that 37% of the income was spent on food thus contributing to the wellbeing of previously food insecure and poor households.

System of Rice Intensification (SRI)  – Growing more with less
The Systems of Rice Intensification (SRI) is an innovative agricultural practice to improve food sufficiency at household level and respond to the growing demand for food and the ever increasing scarcity of natural resources such as land and water.

In Malawi, SRI is being championed by the IFAD-funded Irrigation Rural Livelihoods and Agricultural Development (IRLAD) Project. The IRLAD project trained over 5,000 farmers in irrigation schemes to adopt SRI technology as a way of ensuring optimum utilization of the irrigation schemes and improve yield using less farm inputs.

According to rice farmers who have adopted the SRI technology, there are six principles that the farmers must follow for SRI to be successful. The principles include:

Maggie Chisi (practicing use of conoweeder in India), a
farmer at Limphasa Irrigation Scheme in Nkhatabay is
one of the farmers who are implementing SRI at the
scheme.IFAD/IRLADP
  • transplanting rice seedlings at a much younger age
  • plant single seedling per hill instead of a handful of seedlings at each hill
  • space plants wide apart 
  • plant in a square pattern of (23x23) cm
  • use intermittent water application to create wet and dry soil conditions instead of the conventional continuous flood irrigation
  • use of conno-weeder -  an instrument used for weeding. Conno weeder promotes aeration in the soil as it cuts rice roots which in turn induces the development of new tillers around a particular hill. Farmers who used conoweeders during 2013/2014 rainy season counted 45 to 60 tillers from one seedling instead of 4 to 7 tillers.

“We did not believe that one seedling could produce over 45 to 60 seedlings from a single seedling planted, our friends thought we were going back  at night  to the fields and planting some seedlings”, explained Mr  G.Njala of Likangala Complex irrigation scheme in Zomba and Mr Alhaji Chale of Lifuwu irrigation scheme.

“My friends thought I was crazy when I planted one seedling per hill” says Mrs Chisi, “but when they saw an impressive crop a few days later, they insisted to know the secret behind all this” she explained with pride.
“This season, because of using SRI practices, I expect to harvest  nine bags of 50 kg each on a 0.1 ha plot (4,500 kgs /ha) where previously I used to harvest four bags of 50 kgs each ( 2,500 kgs /ha)”, she said. She further said that with the proceedings from rice sales, she hopes to buy a bicycle so that she can move around more easily and save some money to build a house next year after harvesting and selling her produce.
PRIDE: The way forward
Mr G.Njala of Likangala Complex irrigation
scheme in Zomba and Mr

Alhaji Chale of Lifuwu irrigation schemeIFAD/IRLADP
Considering that increase in income and access to food do not guarantee good nutrition, IRLADP’s  successes will be replicated in the IFAD-funded Programme for Rural Irrigation Development (PRIDE).

The main thrust of PRIDE is to upgrade irrigation schemes to enable smallholder farmers move from low value to high value crops. The implementation of PRIDE aims to improve the livelihood of beneficiaries, get them out of poverty and provide them good nutritional status.

In view of building and scaling-up the IRLADP’s positive impact, PRIDE is committed to address nutrition concerns from design through implementation and the project activities will focus on:

  • ensuring dietary diversity
  • addressing women workload
  • mounting nutrition awareness campaigns 
  • sensitizing on food processing, storage and utilisation
  • collaborating with other development partners for maximizing impact and generating synergies in agriculture for nutrition programs. 

As a nutrition expert, I am confident that a nutrition-sensitive PRIDE will show how sound investment in  agriculture and crop diversification leads to good nutrition.


The Tanzanian project team with beneficiaries in Ethiopia
The Government of Tanzania launched a knowledge sharing exchange for its rural finance team from 23rd – 27th June 2014, to view successes and lessons learned in Ethiopia’s rural financial services project. Tanzania and Ethiopia both have similar historical contexts; transitioning from a heavily socialist regime – the period of the Derg in Ethiopia and President Julius Nyerere’s African socialism based on Ujamma, a Swahili word and concept of development through the people or community – to a more open financial economy. 


In Tanzania, the Marketing Infrastructure, Value Addition and Rural Finance support programme (MIVARF) aims to enhance the incomes and food security of the rural poor by increasing access to financial services and markets with an investment of  USD 170 million, to benefit 500,000 households by 2018 – IFAD provides USD 90.6 million of this support. The Rural Financial Intermediation Programme (RUFIP) phase II, is an IFAD USD 248 million investment that aims to improve access of financial services of 6.9 million poor rural households in Ethiopia. The project is developing management information systems and undertaking the capacity building of 31 micro-finance institutions (MFIs), 5,500 rural savings and credit cooperatives (RUSACCOs) and 55 Unions. Both RUFIP and MIVARF work with a significant number of partners in the financial sector, and the Tanzanian project team was aiming to gain experiences from the successful implantation of a similar programme. 

 Shubida Masa Adha at her home in 2007
before she joined OCSSCO MFI
Of particular interest to the Tanzanian project team was RUFIP's coordination with the Central bank and other policy bodies. RUFIP has designed a unique mechanism to disburse the IFAD loan. The project has intentionally disbursed the USD209 million in loans through the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) in line with NBE’s mandate to develop financial services in rural areas, among other things. Engaging the NBE and having a monthly project steering committee meeting has created platforms for feedback and exchange between financial service providers and the NBE. Financial services and products that meet the rural poor’s demands have been developed; the NBE has deregulated lending & deposit rates and MFIs and RUSSACOs have relaxed single borrower limits and loan ceilings have been eased. 


Shubida Masa Adha talks with the MIVRAF team in front of her home 
which was rebuilt using a loan from OCSSCO MFI. 

Shubida Masa Adha has taken loans totaling
Birr700 (USD704) to invest in her petty-trade business,
rebuilding her home and two milking cows.
     The group from Tanzania traveled to Mojo to meet four women who have taken loans from the Oromia Credit and Savings Share Company  (OCSSCO) a MFI supported by the project. "At the community level, there were visible and progressive impacts; both women and men were able to demonstrate how project support has contributed towards increasing their incomes and  investments, moving them out of poverty. MFIs have totally engaged and taken ownership of the project objective because they are innovating financial products to meet rural peoples’ demands. In this case, OCSSCO is supporting individual borrowers, in the same area, to access group loans. It is a huge benefit that the rural poor are now able to access group loans with interest rates as low as 10-12percent with repayment periods up to 5-7 years. The project’s partnership with MFIs is commendable and the development of such affordable credit and loan services is something we can attempt to develop in Tanzania,” Bernard Ulaya, told us.


      Kaleh Saleh, Programme Coordinator for MIVARF in Zanzibar, was impressed at the NBE’s ownership of the programme and the strength of the Association of Ethiopian Microfinance Institutions (AEMFI), an umbrella organization of 31 MFIs formed to promote information exchange and build the capacity of MFIs. “In Tanzania we are operating in a context where policies for the cooperative sector are only just being developed and implemented, hence it is difficult to ensure that cooperatives are being adequately regulated. It has been helpful to see organizations such as AEMFI, that are well-structured and managed with a leadership with clear responsibilities, and the Federal Cooperative Union that has taken on the significant responsibility of transforming the cooperative sector to take on the provision of financial services, a role that is distinguished from producer cooperatives. We can definitely learn and adopt what has worked; particularly as we are currently supporting the Government of Tanzania to strengthen a newly formed commission that will regulate and strengthen cooperatives,” said Saleh. Since a new Cooperative Act was adopted in Tanzania in 2003, MIVRAF is training cooperative development officers and guiding the development of supervision and regulatory structures.

     The Tanzania team had the opportunity to interact with the, IFAD Representative and Country Director in Ethiopia, Robson Mutandi. The Tanzanian project team learned about the broader Country Programme framework and approach in Ethiopia that revolves around three pillars; rural finance, small holder irrigation development and pastoral community development. With these areas of focus, access to financial is key to the overall country programme and the financial inclusion agenda. 
    

The MIVARF team speaks with Melkamu Dame, Team leader of
operations of OSCCO at a branch office in Debrezeit
b  Overall, the Tanzania team was impressed and the team noted that the visit provided them some practical examples of how the financial sector can take a lead role in the implementation of project objectives. The Tanzanian team also noted that there is a future opportunity for RUFIP II to address its monitoring and evaluation, and data collection challenges by learning from the Tanzania MIVARF and a similar rural finance project in Zambia. It is hoped that such exchanges will be encouraged within ESA and between projects that have similar objectives as one of the avenues towards improved project performance. The team looks forward to incorporating such best practices and lessons learned especially using the opportunity to catalyze the financial sector with a project supported credit line and strengthen capacity building activities during the upcoming mid-term review due in August this year. 

Revolutionizing agricultural financing in ACP Countries

Posted by Betty Tole Friday, July 11, 2014 0 comments

A game changing conference attracting over 600 delegates including farmers, farmer organizations, traders, bankers, financial institutions, governments, and government agencies, from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries are meeting in Nairobi, Kenya from 14 to 18 July 2014 to discuss ways of developing a modern and high-performing agricultural financing system that will enable agriculture serve the increasing demands of the urban and global markets. The President of Kenya, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta is scheduled to officially open the conference.  Several African Agriculture and Finance Ministers, as well as Central Bank Governors are also expected to attend.

The meeting is organized by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA), the African Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (AFRACA), the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) and the Kenya School of Monetary Studies (KSMS). Other international organizations, including IFAD, are sponsoring the event.

The Fin4Ag conference will provide a platform for participants to learn about the various tools and initiatives that facilitate successful smallholder-inclusive agri-value chain finance. The conference will focus on the existing working models of agri-value chain finance that enhance food security as well as job, and wealth creation, along with the policy frameworks that support these initiatives.  Central Bank governors will share on what they can do to create an enabling environment for such agricultural financing.  

The conference will also showcase a range of new developments in ICT that aid access to secure financial transactions.  Sixteen digital platforms have confirmed participation on Plug and Play Day, or Day Zero of the conference on 14 July 2014. The event will demonstrate technologies supporting access to credit, payments, savings, and insurance and risk management for value chain actors.  For ICT innovators, this will be a unique opportunity to gain a broader perspective of finance ICTs, while users will have a chance to discover the latest ICT platforms for value chain finance available in the market.

The Plug and Play Day is organized as a precursor to the main conference. The opening ceremony will take place on 15 July 2014.  Various sessions have been organized from the 15 – 17 July 2014, with field trips planned on the last day of the conference to different areas where examples of transformation in agricultural finance will be showcased.

AFRACA, a grant recipient of several IFAD grants, and co-organizer of the conference, will host two sessions: one discussing the issues, and ways of enhancing financing of intra-African food trade, and the second one on strategies for financing agricultural mechanization. The Nairobi-based IFAD Regional Grant, Rural Finance Knowledge Management Partnership (KMP), that has also been extensively involved in the organization of the conference, will also host two sessions: Capacity building: what is missing in agri-value chain finance training and how to fill the gaps; and Information, communication and knowledge management in value chain financing: lessons learnt. In addition KMP organized the documentation of all the field visits that complement the plenary discussions for the delegates attending the conference.

Also participating in the conference is a vibrant group of on-site social reporters drawn from across Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific regions who will be updating social sites on the happenings in the conference. To follow conference proceedings, the website is http://fin4ag.org. For Twitter users, use #Fin4Ag14.

by Abdelhaq Hanafi

Some 33 million people are estimated to be poor in Egypt, more than half of whom reside in rural areas whose main source of income and employment is derived from agriculture. A key sector in the Egyptian economy, agriculture provides livelihoods to 55% of the population, and directly employs about 30% of the labour force.



© IFAD/Marco Salustro
Sabah Hassan Aldin joins in the wheat
threshing activities in Soliman village,
West Noubaria
Against this background, the current laws are crucial in enhancing the potential of the agricultural sector, like the law regulating cooperative systems. In a recent meeting with the Minister for Agriculture and Land Reclamation (MALR) of Egypt, IFAD learned that MALR made a proposal for changes in the law and reforms within Agricultural Cooperatives. The proposed changes to the current cooperative system seek to strengthen the institutional structures, enhance the governance of the cooperatives, and establish a special subsidiary body including an election board charged with overseeing board elections.

During this meeting, Dr Adel El-Biltagy, the newly-appointed Minister of MALR recognized IFAD’s significant role in contributing to the reduction of rural poverty and enhancement of national food security in Egypt. Special mention was made with regards to state-of-the art technologies suited to Egypt’s context as well as research-related support providing right access to information. IFAD’s comparative advantage lies in continuing to work closely for and with smallholder farmers and rural entrepreneurs and their organizations in rural areas.




©IFAD/Taysir Al Ghanem
In West Noubaria, Heinz provides
farmers with seed and buys
their tomatoes at an agreed price
The Country Programme Manager for Egypt presented the findings of the design mission for the new IFAD-funded project in Egypt, entitled Sustainable Agriculture Investments and Livelihoods (SAIL).  The SAIL project is building on successes of the ongoing West Noubaria Rural Development Project, which has promoted settlement in lands reclaimed from the desert as well as the establishment of farmer marketing associations, and thus, for the first time made small farmers an attractive proposition for large exporters and processors in Europe and the Middle East. The new SAIL project is expected to reach some 280,000 people in the new settlements (in Lower, Middle and Upper Egypt) as well as provide support to the adjoining secondary areas related to the provision of social and economic services, especially for young people. The total project cost is estimated at approximately USD 90 million, of which USD 69.6 million will be financed by IFAD.


© IFAD/Marco Salustro
West Noubaria, sprinkler irrigation
on a forage field.
From 1980, IFAD has invested in eleven projects in Egypt valued at US$659.4 million (including 337 million in IFAD financing). Of these, seven have closed and four are ongoing. IFAD’s programme in Egypt has comprised two main themes and groups of activities: support for settlement in the new lands in Lower (northern) Egypt and support for productivity improvement in the old lands in the Nile valley and Upper Egypt.





Funding through the Global Environment Facility is being explored with the Ministry of Environment of Egypt for an estimated value of US$ 7.5 million. In addition,  the Saudi Fund for Development has expressed an interest in granting an estimated US$ 20 million for the projects that focus on the use of small-scale renewable, solar energy.