Video: Egypt's 'widows' village'

al-monitor Zahira Hassan, a longtime resident of Samaha.  Photo by Al-Monitor/Mostafa Darwish.

Jan 10, 2019

Located some 100 miles from the city of Aswan in southern Egypt, Samaha village is billed as a place where divorced and widowed women can begin a new life — with some help from the government.

“Everything was available, electricity, water, anything that we asked for: transportation, health care,” said Mohamed El-Badry, a teacher who moved to Samaha with his mother while in college. He added, “Gradually, things started to fade away, one thing following another."

When some 300 women initially moved to the village beginning in the late 1990s, the government provided each with a home and a plot of land to farm. 

While Samaha means tolerance in Arabic, residents express another sentiment: resilience in the face of government negligence.

What began as a joint project between Egypt’s Ministry of Agriculture and the UN World Food Program to bolster Egypt's agricultural industry has only created greater challenges for residents.

They complain about a lack of desperately needed services, including education, transportation and health care.

“Agricultural lands have become arid because of water scarcity,” said Zahira Hassan, a longtime resident. 

“No water reaches us."

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