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MAAT calls for a national project to revive traditional industries in border governorates

In light of the first UPR convoy marched by MAAT for Peace, Development and Human Rights to the New Valley governorate last May, the Foundation documented an issue relative to the revival and marketing of traditional industries in the governorate, which carries the oases cultural legacies, including porcelain, pottery, arabesque, kilim rugs and carpet, and the traditional costume industries.

According to MAAT’s information, and based to discussions with a large number of the responsible parties for training centers on handicrafts, marketing fairs, professionals and officials in the governorate, the problem of the demise of handicrafts and traditional industries is summarized in the following points:

1.      Wicker is facing obstacles that might lead to the demise of the profession, represented in the fact that only the elderly are practicing the profession from their homes in a limited number of remote villages;

2. Porcelain and faience manufacturing, considered as one of the legacies and traditional professions in the oases and New Valley, utilizing local material represented in clay from the mountains, is endangered due to the lack of a national plan to support this industry in relation to production and marketing, in addition to the lack of financial material that inclines those working in the profession to abandon it;

3.      The uselessness of the training courses implemented by different training centers due to the lack of possibility to utilize the training in starting micro-projects nor to market the products guaranteeing a proper and sustainable financial return;

4.      The tourism crisis caused a recession in marketing traditional products in the New Valley, as the tourists are considered the number one consumer to these products, which resulted in a major decline in the industry;

5.      The absence of innovative and international marketing plans caused a decline in traditional industries production, and now is threatening its existence, despite the New Valley governorate has a unique collection of oases’ engravings and drawings adding a special character to the governorate’s traditional products, knowing that those products are in high demand during international fairs;

6.      Women and youth are the most working groups in these industries, meaning that the demise of these industries threatens one of the basic industries depended on by women especially with the possibility to work from home;

These issues combined lead to putting obstacles before preserving traditional industries and providing job opportunities to youth and women, which contradicts with a number of accepted recommendations by the Egyptian state during the UPR second session in March 2015, including recommendations number:

1) 166.255 “Strengthen professional training to promote the rapid integration of young graduates into the labour force” (Senegal);

2) 166.256 “Effectively implement the comprehensive national strategy to combat short- and long-term unemployment, including investment in skills development” (South Africa);

3) 166.259 “Take measures to reduce unemployment, especially among young people, and promote their integration into the social and political life of the country, with the goal of maintaining and enhancing its stability and security” (Tajikistan); 166.260 “Continue with its efforts to combat short- and long-term unemployment, in consultation with the private sector and the providers of education” (Bhutan); and 166.261 “Continue implementing its comprehensive national strategy aimed at combating short- and long-term unemployment” (Equatorial Guinea);

4) 166.79 “Continue to provide support to women in the economic sphere” (United Arab Emirates); 166.87 “Keep its attention towards the economic empowerment of women” (Cuba); and

166.88 “Continue programmes and policies for the economic empowerment of women” (India);

5) 166.53 “Expand social programmes for the promotion of youth employment” (Uzbekistan);

And 166.54 “Make more efforts to create job opportunities for youth by taking the necessary measures” (Oman);

In light of the above, MAAT appeals for the Prime Minister, Minister of Tourism, and Minister of Culture to develop a national plan to revive handcraft and traditional industries in border governorates, including the New Valley, North and South Sinai, and Aswan, conditioning that the plan should include main components including training, qualification, employment and marketing.

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