Nadia Abdo: First Female Governor in Egypt

By Rehab Saad

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Engineer Nadia Abdo is the first woman to hold the position of governor in Egypt.  She was appointed in February 2017, previously holding the title of deputy governor of El Beheira governerate.  Abdo succeeded in resolving many critical problems, like reducing rates of virus C infections, increasing drinking water stations and confronting flooding issues.

In addition to her experience in tackling critical issues, she was the first woman in the Arab World to head the management of the drinking water and sanitation company in Alexandria. She remained in this post for 12 years, before being awarded by the Muslim and African Women’s Fund as the best humanitarian achiever for her work in Alexandria.

At the beginning, Abdo received resistance from protestors when she became deputy governor in 2013 due to the fact that she was a member of the National Party, but their concerns were put to rest after seeing the improvements she had made in the governerate.

Challenges and Achievements

Security

In light of the recent bombings in Tanta and Alexandria, which claimed the lives of dozens and injured more than 100, we asked the governor about the actions she has taken towards the victims and their families, as well as the security measures enforced after the recent events. She said, “The governorate took care of the funeral services of many of the victims including Major Emad Lotfy and First Lieutenant Asmaa Al-Kharadli. We have also taken all the necessary security measures to fortify churches and vital facilities after the bombings and have ensured round the clock shifts in the governerate’s hospitals.” She added, “Moreover, we have inspected hospitals to guarantee the readiness of intensive care units, blood banks, pharmacies and civil protection departments, in addition to the quality of medical equipment and availability of doctors and nurses in case of emergencies.”

Climate and Coastal Areas

El Beheira has been facing many challenges, including climate change and the rise of sea level, in which a study was conducted for the management of coastal areas to create a geographical, social and economic database. In this regard, Abdo explained that complete maps were done for the surrounding lands as well as for cultivated and uncultivated areas within the urban boundaries or outside the governorate areas. “It should be noted that we did not need any consultants to do this,” Abdo remarked.

When Abdo was the deputy governor of El Beheira, she put forth many ideas, which included transferring Rasheed into a touristic area, establishing an industrial city and creating residential areas for the youth.

Upcoming and Already Established Projects

“Many projects were established, like creating the customs building, a police station, a fish market, a vegetables market, the development of the corniche and the three Nile marinas, a parking complex, the completion of the fishing port on an area of ​​12 feddans, the establishment of three factories and 18 service and commercial buildings, among other projects,” Abdo mentioned.

“Currently, we are coordinating with the authorities to provide us with the necessary aid to transfer fish cages, install navigation passages, develop the Tal area and the Abo Mandour mosque, establish three floating marinas and to complete the road expansion from el Haq mosque to the port entrance, and finally, develop heritage streets like Dahliz el Malak, El Souq and El Sheikh Kandil,” she proceeded.

“Moreover, we are waiting for the licenses to develop El Horreya, Orabi, Sahet el Amseeli and the citadel area, as well as installing railway pavements and developing a link between Rosetta Canal and the industrial city station in new Rosetta, in addition to the installation of a service station and transferring the bricks workshop to an uninhabited area,” added Abdo.

“As for developing the industrial and housing area in New Rosettta, we have divided the 700 acres located beside the petroleum companies into five areas: 247 acres for housing, 190 for investments, 65 for administration, entertainment and services, 128 acres as an industrial area and finally, 47 acres for craftsmanship and small industries,” she said.

“Many of my plans have already been achieved, and we have received the Cabinet’s approval to allocate 35 acres to establish a private university, as well as 128 acres for a complex that manufactures paper from straw rice in cooperation with Al Ahram Establishment and a Chinese investor, which was approved by the Ministry of Investment. The installation of utilities, drinking and sewage water as well as electricity and natural gas networks in this area is essential, and will cost around EGP300 million.”

“We are also suffering from construction violations, whether people are building without a license or are building outside the urban area, where the number of infringement cases has reached 5,096,” Abdo claimed.

Health Services

“One of the main challenges that El Beheira suffers from would be the availability and quality of health services. In order to address such issues, we have already established six hospitals, renovated 57 health units and are currently working on nine other projects which are nearly finished,” claimed Abdo.

Transportation and Irrigation

“We also used to suffer from tragic accidents on highways, so we are currently working on completing a bridge on the agricultural road. In order to facilitate traffic near the Mahmoudeya Canal, we have completed the construction of the Kafr el Dawar bridge. Moreover, we have established seven main roads, including the construction of a third lane on the Cairo-Alexandria Agricultural Road, and are upgrading several roads like Delengat, Wadi el Natroun up to kilometer 45, the international coastal road 7a and 7b, as well as creating entrances and exits from and to Kom Hamada,” she added.

“Maintenance of the railway system was also one of the priorities, and we are currently renovating 75 barriers,” mentioned Abdo.

“Furthermore, to solve many of our irrigation issues, we have already finished 95 projects and are currently working on 73 more,” she concluded.

Food, Factories and Agriculture

“We are supporting the efforts exerted by the governorate to confront all attempts to manipulate prices, force monopolies on food commodities and exploit citizens by establishing 113 fixed ports and nine mobile ports. Based on the social responsibility of private company owners, businessmen and investors, we are currently coordinating with companies, factories and farm owners to sign protocols for the supply of goods, vegetables and fruits to ensure the continuation of this initiative,” said Abdo.

We also have 33,078 cases of contraventions on agricultural land, in addition to 51 cases of encroachment on state properties after the removal of 548 cases,” she continued.

Administration and Prosecution

 The governor’s top priority is to limit corruption, and there are already 750 employees in local units and service departments under investigation for their inefficient performance and alleged bribery. When asked how she penalizes negligence and how she chooses unit deputies carefully to avoid corruption, she said, “Since 2010, we have handed over 61 cases to the administrative prosecution and nine cases to the general prosecution, and have applied administrative penalties on 71 cases for 1,300 employees, which included deducting from their salaries due to negligence.”

“The criteria for choosing deputies and city councilors is based on good reputation, the approval of the security authorities, their compatibility with the job description, their efficiency and other leadership characteristics,” she added.

Youth and Women Projects

“We have succeeded in establishing 7,000 projects for youth in two years through loans from the national initiative for community, human and local development called “Your Project”, in which loans reached EGP250 million. Financial support was also provided by the social fund to the youth and vulnerable women in order to allow them to start small projects and micro enterprises,” explained Abdo.

Women empowerment is a major topic in the governor’s agenda, and she supports projects that play a significant role in the empowerment of women that provide them with decent jobs for a stable source of income. “We have a project for vulnerable women to raise their standard of living. In phase one, we established poultry projects, trading and grocery projects as well as sewing machines and plastic trading projects, all of which were distributed to 50 widows and disability cases in Abo Kir,” explained Abdo. “We have already handed over phase three, which consists of 57 projects to aid vulnerable women in Kafr el Dawar with the aim of providing them and their families with a fixed income,” added Abdo.

“We have also distributed 34 cheques to vulnerable women, with a total amount of EGP 333,000 as loans provided by the Social Development Fund, in order to enable them to establish their own projects and become financially independent. Examples of these projects include dairy products, sewing machines, food packing, printing cards and making mattress,” she explained.

Future Plans 

“I am looking forward to establishing the Badko logistics port, more industrial areas, a new hub factory in Hosh Issa, a paper pulp factory in Rosetta, a solar energy project, the Rosetta university, a logistic area in Damanhour and recycling factories, as well as developing haphazard areas and restoring state lands,” Abdo concluded.

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