Saadya El Wafy

Ashoka Fellow
Saudi Arabia
Fellow Since 2007


This profile was prepared when Saadya El Wafy was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2007.
The New Idea
Saadya has developed a comprehensive and sustainable model for poverty alleviation in Saudi Arabia, which empowers the poor and has a special focus on women. Using a multi-fold strategy, Saadya works directly with the community; gains their trust and assesses their needs to advocate on their behalf. She trains local facilitators and leaders to implement and follow up on various projects and at the same time, mobilizes local officials and other stakeholders to participate in civil district councils; a structure she developed. The civil district council ensures comprehensive sustainable development in squatter areas, rather than the charitable donations and unsustainable development interventions currently received.
Representing the perspective of the people, community leaders are the most important members on the council. They set the development priorities, express cultural distinctions, and relay how social contexts differ among communities. Donors (sheikhs and agencies) are invited to join and provide the resources for development interventions, while government officials facilitate the implementation of projects and act as indirect advocates; allowing civil society activities to expand in the KSA. Volunteers are also members of the civil district council and often play a key role in completing the projects.
Since citizen organizations (COs) are not permitted to work with the exception of charitable organizations, this level of community mobilization has never existed in the KSA.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

More For You