UNDERNOURISHED children are usually more likely than others to contract infectious diseases. Their mental development is also usually slower, impeding their academic achievement and reducing their chances of getting jobs and earning an income.
With the aim of promoting healthy nutrition in Egypt, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) recently signed a framework agreement with food manufacturer Bel Egypt to increase nutritional awareness among children, Nesmahar Sayed reports.
The agreement comes as part of the FAO’s new strategy to cooperate with the private sector to achieve sustainable development goals, according to Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative in the Near East and North Africa Abdel-Hakim Elwaer. The agreement calls for the creation of a digital educational campaign on healthy and responsible nutrition and eating habits among children. It entails publishing books and producing animations to teach children about healthy eating.
“Young children are the most vulnerable to malnutrition. Malnutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, and obesity are problems that exist in all countries and social and economic classes. Everyone has the right to adequate food and proper nutrition,” Elwaer said during a press conference announcing the agreement.
A press release on the agreement warned the conflict in Ukraine threatened to disrupt global supplies of wheat, maize and other commodities, including fertilisers, placing additional pressure on prices and posing new challenges to food security in many countries.
Nasreddin Haj Al-Amin, FAO representative in Egypt, said that while Egypt succeeded in securing food imports enough to cover six months, its large population represents “a great problem” that makes putting a strategy for agriculture and diversifying sources of food imports a priority.
New emerging challenges such as climate change, environmental sustainability and rapid technological shifts are changing diets and raising questions about how to feed a growing global population in sustainable ways, according to Elwaer.
Moreover, uneven economic growth, socio-economic transformations, and other factors are shaping food and nutrition systems, leading to the prevalence of increasing obesity and related diseases while at the same time malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies persist, Elwaer added.
Celebrating Egyptian female diplomats
THE FOREIGN Ministry participated this week in celebrating the first International Women’s Day in Diplomacy. This comes after Egypt supported a resolution issued by the UN General Assembly to launch the annual celebration of this event on 24 June in recognition of the active contributions of women in diplomatic work.
The resolution invites all UN member states, UN organisations, other international and regional organisations, civil society, academic institutions, associations of female diplomats, and other relevant entities to celebrate the occasion annually in order to promote the full and equal participation of women at all levels.
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry congratulated Egypt’s female diplomats on their “valuable participation” within the framework of Egyptian foreign policy and on defending Egyptian interests abroad and in all international forums, as well as presenting an honourable model for Egyptian women.
Interest rates fixed
THE MONETARY Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) decided to maintain its basic interest rates at 11.25 per cent for deposits, 12.25 per cent for lending and 11.75 per cent for the credit, and discount rate and the price of the main operation of CBE.
The committee said on Thursday last week that global economic activity had decelerated due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. The committee confirmed that it will continue to assess the impact of its decisions on inflation expectations and macroeconomic developments in the medium term, taking into account the decisions made during the previous two meetings to raise basic interest rates.
It noted that achieving low and stable inflation rates in the medium term was a prerequisite to support the purchasing power of the Egyptian citizen and realise high and sustainable growth rates. The committee also emphasised that current interest rates depended mainly on expected inflation rates and not the prevailing rates and that the committee will closely follow all economic developments and “will not hesitate” to adjust its policy to achieve the goal of price stability in the medium term.
The committee’s decision to fix interest rates comes after two consecutive rate increases in March of one per cent and two per cent in May.
Opening NBE branch in Sudan
THE NATIONAL Bank of Egypt (NBE) announced the opening of a branch in Juba, South Sudan, this week. According to senior NBE officials, the bank’s presence in Juba helps realise more cooperation and development in Africa. Egyptian companies willing to invest in the African market will enjoy various banking and advisory services.
The NBE owns a network of branches and foreign offices, represented in two branches in China and the US and three offices in Ethiopia, South Africa and the UAE. This is in addition to two affiliated institutions in the UK and Sudan and a network of correspondents in more than 80 countries around the world.
In October 2021, the Saudi Council of Ministers agreed to grant the NBE a license to open a branch in the Kingdom after the NBE obtained a permit from the Central Bank of Egypt. “The external expansion of the bank’s network of branches reflects the confidence and credibility that various institutions have in the bank,” NBE Vice Chairperson Yehia Abul-Fetouh said, adding that the NBE aims to gain a new base of customers and meet the needs of thousands of Egyptians working in Africa and the Arab region.
A version of this article appears in print in the 30 June, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.