Preserving Egypt's protected areas starts with you

Collective work brings together volunteers to clean-up Wadi Degla protected area. UNDP/ Jose Sanchez
Collective work brings together volunteers to clean-up Wadi Degla protected area. UNDP/ Jose Sanchez

At 7:30 am on Saturday morning, people started to gather at three different locations in Cairo, determined to do one thing: take action and preserve Wadi Degla protected area.

Located a few minutes away from Cairo, Wadi Degla is one of the 30 protected areas in Egypt. With a total area of 60 km², the imposing valley of Degla is known as the gateway for Eastern desert, having a multitude of different fossils and unique geological formations dating back 50 million years.

Highlights:

  • Wadi Degla is one of the 30 protected areas in Egypt, with a total area of 60 km², the imposing valley of Degla is known as the gateway for Eastern desert.
  • More than 450 trash bags were filled by around 200 volunteers. Wadi Degla looks a bit better today, but the challenge is in maintaining it this way in the future.

By 9:00 am, volunteers, UN staff, civil society organizations, environment advocates, along with all organizers and partners: the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Egyptian adventurer Omar Samra and his team from Wild Guanabana, the Mansour Foundation for Development and the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) were all present with full force and ready for a long day of fun and work.

“We have gathered in Wadi Degla at the outskirts of Cairo to show that the environment is our most precious asset in the planet and we have to take action to preserve it, not only for our own enjoyment but for future generations”, said Ignacio Artaza, UNDP Country Director during the event.

Omar Samra led the crowds on a long hike while cleaning up tons of trash and garbage that damaged the beautiful scenery of the protected area, with its vast yellow cliffs and unique ecosystem. In a few minutes, no one walked empty-handed. Bags filled with trash were collected and placed at the collection point for the garbage truck to pick them up. Some of the collected bags were planned to be delivered to a recycling company instead of being dumped at the landfill.

“Today was about cleaning up. But most importantly, it was about people enjoying the day. Because I believe that only when people enjoy the natural beauty of protected areas, would they have an interest in actually preserving and keeping them safe”, said Omar Samra.

Despite the high temperature, participants endured the hot weather, walked miles and miles, enjoyed an adventurous hike and cleaned up almost 3kms inside the protectorate. More than 450 trash bags were filled by around 200 volunteers. Wadi Degla looks a bit better today, but the challenge is in maintaining it this way in the future.

“We should all comply with the rules of the protected area. If it doesn’t start from us, then the protected area will just be an area to dump waste and rubbish. We are today sparking concerns on the increased amount of rubbish in our natural environment”, commented one of the participants on the day.

The day ended some reflections and recommendations on how to preserve protected areas and keep the environment clean.  In addition, new water tanks were installed to enhance the protected area’s services for visitors.

The event is in line with UNDP’s efforts to preserve Egypt’ Protected Areas, promoting sustainable development that links environment conservation with sustainable use of natural resources.

More information on the campaign: https://www.facebook.com/events/618617721597290/

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