The Egyptian Food Bank (EFB), in collaboration with Sawiris Foundation for Social Development (SFSD) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), convened the third session of the "Bridging Evidence and Policy " seminar series. This seminar is part of CGIAR’s National Policies and Strategies (NPS) Initiative.  

Entitled "Crises and Response: Development and Humanitarian Aid in Middle East and North Africa," the session featured prominent participants such as Sikandra Kurdi, Egypt Country Program Leader at IFPRI, Mohsen Sarhan, CEO of EFB, and Nora Selim, Executive Director at Sawiris Foundation for Social Development.

The session's discussions involved distinguished figures including Raffaele Bertini, Economic Affairs Officer at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Adeeb Qasem, Director of Economic Development Initiatives at Hayel Saeed, HSA Group in Yemen, Sebastian Herwing, Senior External Relations Officer UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, and Ayman Omar, Senior Program Officer and Delivery Manager of the Regional Initiative on Resilience Building, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO

The seminar series seeks to offer diverse methodologies and discussions on crisis response, whether immediate or prolonged, emphasizing the importance of crafting programs based on evidence. It also aims to share outcomes and critical lessons gleaned from evaluating social protection initiatives in Egypt, alongside examining best global and local practices in disseminating evidence-based programs within the private and civil sectors. This effort aims to stimulate public interest in designing impact-driven programs by presenting models for successful impact assessment in Egypt and underscoring their significance. Furthermore, it leverages the operational expertise of EFB in delivering emergency assistance since 2010.

Attended by eminent practitioners and scholars, the seminar shed light on the expansion of developmental efforts and unique practices in crisis response and recovery. It showcased the research proficiency of IFPRI in designing local and international relief programs to facilitate swift and adaptable responses, supporting humanitarian endeavors during crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and conflict-ridden contexts. Additionally, it highlighted EFB’s operational experience in providing emergency aid since 2010, including its role in managing relief program design to ensure food security for disaster-affected individuals and their inclusion in the food bank's assistance database. Moreover, it emphasized the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development's role in funding evidence-based relief programs to benefit the most deserving groups and optimize resource utilization to ensure food security.

"The BEP seminar seeks to enhance societal understanding regarding the significance of development initiatives founded on empirical evidence. This is accomplished by showcasing the Egyptian Food Bank's operational insights in executing relief endeavors on-site, Sawiris Foundation's financial contributions to these initiatives, and the practical know-how of the International Institute in their formulation," said Mohsen Sarhan, CEO of EFB, "These endeavors have a beneficial effect on the services rendered by civil society entities amid conflicts. It is underscored how these programs have enabled the Food Bank to swiftly respond to crises in the recent past while consistently ensuring food security."

Sikandra Kurdi, Research Fellow and the Country Program Leader for Egypt at IFPRI, remarked, "The overwhelming majority of humanitarian aid is gathered post-crisis, providing life-saving assistance but at a relatively high cost. It is imperative to enhance the efficiency of both collecting and distributing humanitarian aid."

"Recent humanitarian crises in our region have necessitated prompt responses and developmental aid. This gathering aims to explore the viability of leveraging scientific evidence and integrating it into developmental policies to achieve optimal responses to the crises we face," said Nora Selim, Executive Director at Sawiris Foundation for Social Development. "We serve as a donor to formulate a comprehensive approach for addressing temporary and emergency crises, each with its own nuances. This approach ensures a clear methodology is at the core of our operational plan for effective response and recovery. We are pleased to maintain ongoing collaboration with the operationally adept EFB in delivering emergency humanitarian assistance, as well as partnering with the IFPRI to leverage their extensive research experience in policy-related matters."

The panel discussion delved into the challenges confronting the most marginalized communities and households in the Arab world, the Middle East, and North Africa. These challenges include long-standing conflicts, resource scarcity, and severe inequality, all of which compound the impacts of crises. The discussion also explored the formulation of developmental policies within this context of escalating and often intricate crises. It underscored essential lessons for addressing emergencies, providing relief, and implementing recovery programs following the COVID-19 pandemic, the surge in food prices due to the Russo-Ukrainian war, severe natural disasters, and protracted conflicts in Yemen, Sudan, and Palestine. These crises threaten to impede the maintenance of viable developmental opportunities in the region and necessitate earnest deliberations for adaptable planning and proactive policy development. This requires strategic planning to mitigate risks associated with conflicts, environmental challenges, and developmental hazards through a set of practices aimed at enhancing resilience across the region.


Egyptian Food Bank

Founded in 2004 as a non-governmental organization dedicated to enhancing food security in Egypt, has remained committed to supporting the most vulnerable families in the country for two decades. These families encounter various obstacles in obtaining an adequate, safe, and nutritious food supply, making the EFB’s efforts instrumental in alleviating hunger on a national scale.

Sawiris Foundation

Stands as a pioneer among Egypt's donor development institutions, established in 2001 through the philanthropic contributions of the Sawiris family. It champions innovative solutions to foster comprehensive and sustainable development within Egypt. Over its 23-year history, the foundation has diligently tackled pressing issues confronting marginalized communities, including poverty, unemployment, and the limited availability of quality education. Through strategic collaborations with governmental entities, the private sector, civil society organizations, and international partners, the foundation has spearheaded numerous programs. These initiatives have not only created thousands of employment opportunities but also facilitated access to quality education and essential services. With a steadfast commitment to impacting lives, the foundation has reached nearly a million Egyptians across 24 governorates, with a particular emphasis on underserved rural areas. Its cumulative investments have surpassed 2.5 billion Egyptian pounds.

The International Food Policy Research Institute

Founded in 1975, IFPRI is a premier institution dedicated to offering research-driven policy recommendations aimed at achieving lasting poverty reduction and eradicating hunger and malnutrition in developing nations. IFPRI boasts a workforce of over 500 professionals operating across more than 70 countries. The institute's work is marked by extensive collaboration with a diverse array of partners, reflecting its commitment to fostering sustainable development on a global scale.