Salah Arafa

Ashoka Fellow
Egypt,
Fellow Since 2004
The American University in Cairo

Citation

This profile was prepared when Salah Arafa was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
Salah’s idea involves using natural local resources with active citizen participation to meet the human needs of small rural villages. By seeing the potential in poor, marginalized villages, Salah created a sustainable community-based model for development founded on the notion that development and modernization do not necessarily entail urbanization or a move to the cities. Salah believes that the community development process is largely an educational process, and that the prerequisite for Egypt’s sustainable development is citizens who are free, well educated, well-informed, and technically skilled, who can actively participate in their own development process.
Salah selected one marginalized village, Basaysa in Al-Sharqiya governorate, and introduced a completely new concept to the field of development. He used an active participatory method to mobilize the community members to transform this village into an educational center and diffuse its methods to other communities facing similar problems as far away as Sinai. By using locally available resources and by including all villagers to discuss their needs, Salah created an integrated approach to development—one that sought to address the social, economic, and political problems faced by the inhabitants. His program included providing inhabitants with training in agriculture and the efficient use of natural resources, literacy, and perhaps most importantly, group collaboration and community building. With no limitations on which citizens participate, the Basaysa model has turned a poor and marginalized area into an amazing example of how a flexible well thought-out plan can result in sustainable development—and today its impacts have reached well beyond Egypt.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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