Economic prospects for young people in rural areas

Project completed
Farmers are being trained on the vertical tomatoes planting techniques which double their production. ©DDC
Farmers are being trained on the vertical tomatoes planting techniques which double their production. © SDC ©DDC

The SDC project in rural Aswan Governorate in Egypt aims to improve the economic prospects of local young men and women. The SDC promotes enterprises in the agricultural, livestock breeding and fisheries sectors to create new jobs and provide young people with an alternative to migrating to urban centres.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Agriculture & food security
Employment & economic development
Vocational training
Agricultural services & market
Employment creation
Agricultural development
Agriculture value-chain development (til 2016)
Vocational training
01.01.2013 - 31.05.2019
CHF  5’020’000

Egypt has been in a process of transition since the uprising in February 2011. Economic stagnation and unemployment are among the factors that sparked the popular uprising in spring 2011. The period that followed has been characterised by an economic downturn and rising unemployment, and regional disparities and poverty have increased. Currently 40% of the Egyptian population and more than half of all young people are living below the poverty line.

Exploiting the growth potential of the economy

The aim of the project is to provide young women and men under 40 living in rural Aswan Governorate with jobs, a higher and long-term income, and to motivate young people to stay in the region and not move to urban centres. The SDC is promoting a sustainable economic upswing to benefit all and working to expand the local job market. According to an analysis carried out as part of the project, the agricultural sector has large growth potential. 

The project officers estimate that 2,500 young people will achieve a higher income and 4,000 new jobs will be created. As the families of these young people will also benefit from this upswing indirectly, approximately 30,000 people will be able to improve their livelihoods. 

The project focuses on processing chains in small industry. Producing vegetable oils, drying tomatoes and fish salting will be professionalised and production costs will be reduced where possible. Thanks to the project's innovation fund, pilot projects can be carried out, such as converting diesel-powered water pumps to environmentally friendly solar energy pumps.

In addition, the project will help to improve conditions for farmers, livestock breeders, and people working in the fisheries sector.

Many people out of work

Aswan Governorate in southern Egypt has a population of 1.2 million, of which 57% are living in the countryside. There is a high poverty rate and illiteracy is very widespread. The largest economic sector in Aswan is agriculture, followed by tourism. The industrial sector is very weak. The remoteness of the governorate and its inadequate infrastructure make access to markets difficult.                                                                     

In 2010, the unemployment rate was approximately 19%, with women and young people especially affected.  Women account for 75% of the total workforce. They work in particular in family-owned farms without pay or as paid workers for other agricultural operations. 

In 2010, the Egyptian government initiated a national employment plan for young people that was intended to promote private enterprise and education and training for young people. As a result of the 2011 uprising, implementation of the project was interrupted and since then unemployment has further increased.

Strong Swiss involvement

The SDC works with cooperatives and NGOs as well as with microfinance institutions. The SDC's contract partner in this project is the organisation CARE International Egypt that works under contract with WorldFish. WorldFish is already a partner of Switzerland. Local people are closely involved in the project activities, while political structures are taken into account.

Switzerland is very active in the remote and disadvantaged Aswan Governorate. In addition to the economy and youth employment, Switzerland is active in improving the quality of drinking water and reducing water consumption.