ICA MENA – from desert village to national network

ICA MENA (Middle East & North Africa) has gained much experience in institutional capacity building with governmental and non-governmental bodies in Egypt over the last 39 years.

Our work began with a Human Development Project in Bayad El Arab village, Beni Suef governorate, in 1976.  The aim was to demonstrate a self-help model applying community participation methods. During the first few years, ICA expanded its activities to all the villages of Bayad El Arab local Unit. After that, it began working in other areas in the governorate, capitalizing on the experience gained and broadening the impact of the methods and techniques developed over the early years. More recently, it opened three more offices in Aswan, Fayoum and Cairo governorates.

More than 500 communities in rural and urban areas have benefited from ICA’s programs and projects in the areas of NGOs Institutional Capacity Building, Education, Gender, Health, Environment, Voluntary Action , Micro-credit, Employment and Youth.

Based on all of this as well as our experience in community research, project monitoring and evaluation, we were selected, along with two other Egyptian organizations, to implement Monitoring and Verification projects in three governorates, Beni Suef, Minya and Assuit. They involve governmental projects supported  and funded  by the Social Fund For Development.

We recently prepared a strategic plan for the next five years, following dialogue and facilitation workshops using ICA’s Technology of Participation (ToP) methods.  ICA staff members in different levels and positions participated in the workshops.

Our mission as expressed in our plan is “to improve the quality of life of community groups through mobilizing their potentials in order to build a dynamic society that is aware of its assets and opportunities and capable of interacting with and affecting change”. Our vision is that ICA be “a distinguished organization and a leader in the development process”.

Martin with some of the new staff of ICA MENA Bayad June 2015
Martin Gilbraith with some of the new staff of ICA MENA in Bayad, June 2015

The main challenges that still face us are fundraising  and development of proposals. In response, we have prepared a set of financing strategies for fund raising.

We currently has more than 70 employees. Many of them are young and we hope they will continue their careers in implementing development activities.

We hosted Martin Gilbraith, president of ICA International, during June13-17. We discussed some top management issues with him and organized a one-day workshop during which he gave a presentation on ToP and its  applications such as the Focus Group Discussion method to our staff.

This post was first published in Winds and Waves, September 2015.