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Environment and Global Climate Change


Image of coral reef in the Red Sea, Egypt
Environmental programs in Egypt have worked to protect coral reefs and encourage environmentally sound tourism.

Safeguarding Egypt’s environment and natural resources contributes to economic and social development and improves the quality of life for citizens. Since the mid-1990s, USAID has cooperated with Egypt’s environment sector to formulate and implement environmental policies and promote the adoption of best practices. USAID’s partnership with Egypt has resulted in improved solid waste management, cleaner air, energy efficiency, protection of the Red Sea and Sinai, improved coastal resources management, sustainable tourism management and stronger environmental non-governmental organizations.


USAID’s response to environment and natural resource challenges has historically included:

  • Providing economic opportunities, improved housing, utilities, public transportation systems, access roads and educational and vocational training facilities for people living along the southern Red Sea coast and on the Sinai Peninsula; 
  • Promoting conservation and protecting biodiversity, improving environmental and land-use management, developing sustainable tourism and improving the quality of life and income-generating opportunities of local Bedouin communities;
  • Environmental cleanup of industrial air-pollutant sites;
  • Environmental education and increasing public awareness of the adverse health effects of pollution and preventative measures, specifically focusing on women and children; and
  • Strengthening conservation management and promoting environmentally friendly, sustainable tourism while including local and indigenous communities in the industry.  

Project Areas

Livelihood and Income from the Environment Program in the Sinai: USAID improved the livelihoods of low-income Bedouins in the Central Sinai region by promoting environmentally sustainable development. The program focused on addressing basic needs through the provision of small infrastructure, public transportation systems and access roads, water desalination plants and vocational training resulting in improved job and business opportunities.

Air Improvement:  Environmental degradation impacts health, public welfare and economic development.

In greater Cairo USAID supported:

  • The reduction of lead levels in the air by more than 65 percent;
  • The installation of a comprehensive air monitoring system and successfully transferred it to the Egyptian government; and
  • The launch of a national vehicle emissions testing program requiring testing for 1.5 million vehicles. Egypt’s first compressed natural gas transit fleet of fifty buses demonstrated the environmental, technical, and financial benefits of using this cleaner fuel.

Lead Remediation: USAID successfully moved lead smelters from the highly populated and polluted urban area of Shoubra El Khaima. We conducted lead remediation of seven lead smelters, two schools, and a medical center in the same neighborhood.

These projects empowered local residents specifically women and children, to improve their living conditions through emphasis on prevention of adverse health effects caused by industrial pollution. USAID’s work lowered blood-lead levels in the community.

Environmental Policy:  USAID supported Egypt’s privatization of solid waste management services for 15 million Egyptians, which improved services and created 16,000 new jobs. The largest protective mooring buoy system in the world was established to allow diving boats to connect with buoys rather than destroying coral reefs along the Red Sea with dragging anchors.

We worked with Egyptians to develop a land use management plan for tourism development in the new Wadi El Gemal National Park in the southern Red Sea. When this area was declared an ecotourism zone, we trained, equipped and stationed 40 park rangers.

Sustainable Tourism and Economic Growth in Red Sea:  After supporting the development of the Wadi El Gemal National Park, USAID provided about 16,000 local residents with income-generation opportunities, educational and vocational training facilities and low-cost solid waste management systems. 

We supported the training of community members to enter the tourism workforce and worked with the government to create an environmentally and financially sustainable approach to tourism development. This project increased the ability of local institutions to effectively monitor, and therefore protect, the natural environment.

Environmental Education:  USAID worked in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Education and the Environmental Affairs Agency to institutionalize environmental education in 81 primary and preparatory schools and communities throughout Egypt in ways that actively engaged students in their neighborhoods and local environments.  

Last updated: October 22, 2015

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