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Cablegate: Egypt Mepi Update: Small Grants, Rural Outreach, And

VZCZCXRO2819
RR RUEHTRO
DE RUEHEG #1268/01 1710424
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 190424Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9601
INFO RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT 0626
RUEHCL/AMCONSUL CASABLANCA 0285
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS 0368
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 0680
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 0225
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 1723
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 1032
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 1184

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 001268

SIPDIS

FOR NEA/ELA AND NEA/PI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PGOV ECON KMPI KDEM EG
SUBJECT: EGYPT MEPI UPDATE: SMALL GRANTS, RURAL OUTREACH, AND
SCHOLARSHIPS

1. Summary: Highlights of MEPI activities in Egypt during the first
half of 2008
include six new small grants for projects with aims including
democracy
promotion in schools and strengthening workers' associations; a USDA
regional
Food Defense workshop; outreach to Upper Egypt and the Nile Delta;
interviews
for Tomorrow's Leaders scholarships and Middle East Entrepreneur
Training;
consultations on university partnerships; and a web chat with
enthusiastic if
puzzled young Egyptians. End summary.

------------
Small Grants
------------

2. During the first half of 2008, we received 23 small-grant
applications from
NGOs throughout Egypt addressing all MEPI pillars: democracy,
economic reform,
education, and women's empowerment. After local vetting and vetting
by MEPI
Tunis, six of the projects are proceeding, in addition to five still
under
consideration and three continuing from last year. Our new projects
include
training for labor activists in organizational skills and conflict
resolution,
promotion of women's political participation in Upper Egypt,
production of a
play on freedom and democratic values to be staged in youth centers
throughout
Egypt, and reporting on the conduct of the April local elections
through
interviews with voters. As we integrate MEPI activities with the
overall work
of the economic and political section, six reporting officers have
volunteered
to serve as project officers for the new grants. In addition, we
intend to work
with some of the unsuccessful but promising applicants such as
Businesswomen's
Association in Dakahlia and the Port Said Small and Medium
Enterprise
Association to help them develop projects that meet MEPI objectives.


-----------------------------------
Outreach to Upper Egypt, Nile Delta
-----------------------------------

3. In February, we traveled to rural areas of Aswan governorate to
meet the
small-grant applicant Association of the Development of Women in
Naga'a Helal
and discuss potential collaboration with the Community Development
Association.
In the city of Aswan, we met with the Women's Renaissance
Association, Egyptians
without Borders, and the Future Association for Development to
discuss their
work, MEPI programs, and overall political and economic conditions
in Upper
Egypt. We made a similar trip to Damietta, Port Said and rural
areas in the
Nile Delta region June 16-17 as part of our efforts to increase MEPI

participation outside of Cairo.

---------------------
Food Defense Workshop
---------------------

4. The U.S. Department of Agriculture organized a MEPI-funded
workshop
"Protecting the Middle East Food Supply from Intentional
Contamination" in Cairo
in January. The workshop included presentations by experts from the
United
States, Europe, and Egypt to government and private-sector

CAIRO 00001268 002 OF 002


participants from
throughout the region, focusing on the prevention of malicious
tampering in the
food storage and distribution chains nationally, regionally, and
worldwide.

------------------------------------
Scholarships and Leadership Training
------------------------------------

5. We interviewed 43 students who applied to the Summer Leadership
Institute, a
six-week intensive leadership training program for college
undergraduates. Six
- four women and two men from across Egypt - are now scheduled to
attend the
program, which will start June 30 with a two-day orientation in
Washington D.C.,
followed by a four-week academic residency program at a U.S.
university and a
two-week educational study tour.

6. We also interviewed 11 students in February for four-year
scholarships for
Egyptian applicants to study abroad at the American University in
Beirut (AUB)
and the Lebanese American University (LAU) in Beirut. (Lebanese
students were
eligible to apply for scholarships to the American University in
Cairo but were
not part of this selection panel.) Four Egyptians were selected to
attend either
AUB on LAU beginning the fall of 2008.

--------------------------------------------
Middle East Entrepreneurship Training (MEET)
--------------------------------------------

7. The Beyster Institute of the University of California-San Diego
hosted a
two-week workshop in Alexandria in March for 20 leaders of civil
society
organizations from throughout the region. The workshop offered
training on
developing a business plan, strategic and tactical planning, and
other guidance
related to starting up or streamlining civil society organizations.
Three
Egyptians were among the 20 participants.

8. We participated in interviews of 22 Egyptian candidates for the
MEET Senior
Executive, Civil Society Organization, and Industry Specific
programs. The
Beyster Institute ultimately approved five candidates from Egypt for
the
programs.

--------
Web Chat
--------

9. In February, Public Affairs and MEPI fielded on-line questions
from young
Egyptians interested in study in the United States, concerned about
the equity
of the selection process for scholarships, and puzzled by a range of
topics
relating to MEPI programs and grants, exchange programs,
fellowships,
scholarships, and internships. We explained the programs and did
what we could
to alleviate their anxieties. Despite their uncertainty, the young
Egyptians
needed no encouragement to pursue these opportunities, demonstrating
a high
degree of interest in studying in the United States and enthusiasm
about MEPI
programs.

10. MINIMIZE CONSIDERED.
SCOBEY

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