As the benefits of urban green spaces become apparent, passionate activists across the Middle East & North Africa are changing their cities through urban agriculture, rooftop gardens, innovative waste management solutions, and community engagement.

In January 2020, the U.S. Forest Service brought together a group of individuals from Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia, and the Palestinian Territories to learn about urban environmental initiatives in Cairo, Egypt, as a case, and to generate ideas and inspiration for how to expand and enhance urban programs in their home countries.

In July 2018, the Ethiopian government led a 38-agency coordinated response to a humanitarian emergency between two regions in southern Ethiopia. The response, coordinated by an Emergency Operations Center, identified and prioritized humanitarian needs and allowed for the quick deployment of resources to a million Ethiopians displaced by conflict. The coordinated response was 11 years in the making.

“It showed all partners, government and non-government, that the system works,” said Rahel Asfaw, retired Director, Response and Recovery for the Ethiopian National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC), Ethiopia’s version of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA.

Rahel has been at the forefront of Ethiopia’s journey to effective emergency response.

In 2008, the…

Participants in the Ethiopia Industrial Park Development Corporation women’s leadership retreat.

The faces of the women I’m speaking with light up when they tell me about the leadership retreat they attended. They recount stories of morning yoga and team building exercises where they had to hold each other tight to succeed in the challenge. The retreat was a first for them — two days of yoga, team building, problem solving and learning leadership skills on the shores of Lake Bishoftu, 50 kilometers outside of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

U.S. Forest Service International Programs

Stories from Africa and the Middle East

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