Infotmation and stories on Egypt

soccer players practicing philanthropy
Soccer, or football players to most of the world, are most often recognized for their impressive work on the field. However, professional soccer players have a lot of potential for impactful good off the field. This, due to their status, influence and financial capabilities. Listed here are five soccer players (part of FIFA) who have a powerful impact on the lives of impoverished peoples. Importantly, their reach extends throughout the world. These are great examples of professional soccer players practicing philanthropy.

5 FIFA Soccer Players Practicing Philanthropy

  1. Lionel Messi is an Argentine footballer who plays forward and captains La Liga club, Barcelona and the Argentinian national team. In response to COVID-19, Messi has made a wide variety of contributions through his organization, The Leo Messi Foundation. He began his foundation in 2007. Its mission focuses on helping kids and teenagers using health, education and sports initiatives. Messi has donated €1 million, split between Hospital Clinic in Catalunya and a health center in Argentina. Additionally, he gave €200,000 to UNICEF projects in Kenya. As a result, more than 2,000 citizens gained access to clean water.
  2. Mohammed Salah is a winger for the English Premier League club, Liverpool and the Egyptian national team. Salah has donated thousands of tons of food and fresh meat to his hometown in Egypt, to help families who have been impacted by COVID-19. Also, Salah donated to the Bassioun General Hospital. Moreover, he (along with his father) gave land to establish a sewage treatment plant in his hometown. With this effort, he hopes to provide a stable source of clean water to the region. Furthermore, Salah has been selected as the first ambassador for the U.N. Instant Network Schools, which connects refugees and host countries’ students with online education opportunities.
  3. Sadio Mane is a forward for the English Premier League club, Liverpool. Mane is funding the construction of a hospital for the village of Bambali, Senegal, where he was born. He took inspiration to do so after losing his father to a stomach illness, with no hospital in the village available to help him. Considering Senegal’s inhabitants, 33% are below the poverty line and Mane’s contributions to schools, hospitals and mosques in his home village are helping improve the quality of life for individuals living there.
  4. Mesut Ozil is a German footballer who plays as a midfielder for the English Premier League club, Arsenal. It is reported that he has paid for more than 1,000 operations for children across the world, food for 100,000 refugees in Turkey and Syria and is an ambassador for the children’s charity — Rays of Sunshine, in England.
  5. Jermain Defoe is currently a striker for the Scottish Premiership club, Rangers. He created the Jermain Defoe Foundation in 2013 to support at-risk youth in his family’s hometown, Caribbean, St. Lucia. His foundation’s mission is to help kids who are vulnerable and in need in the U.K., the Caribbean Islands and Northern Island. His grandparents grew up in St. Lucia and his foundation has worked on several projects in St. Lucia. The foundation’s work includes the refurbishment of the Soufriere Primary School after a hurricane,  donation of shoes to the Daigen School and the financial backing of The Rainbow Children’s Home.

Good Work: On and Off the Pitch

In addition to their work on the football pitch, these soccer players practicing philanthropy are doing excellent work for humanitarian missions and initiatives.  The contributions of these soccer players in healthcare, education and nutrition are improving the lives of the individuals affected by their initiatives worldwide.

Hannah Bratton
Photo: Flickr

Economic Gender Parity in EgyptIn July 2020, the IFC launched a new program called “Closing The Gender Gap Accelerator” to help boost women’s employment in Egypt. In 2019, only 24% of women who were of age to work participated in Egypt’s labor economy, versus 75% of working-age men. It is critical that women are included in the workforce, as the inclusion of women in a country’s workforce greatly boosts a country’s GDP. Private sector companies must realize the potential of women to spur economic growth, especially in the time of recession caused by the ongoing pandemic.

Private Sector Partnership

Therefore, one of the main goals of this program is to bridge the gap between the private and public sectors. The diversity of businesses brought in will provide the necessary local insight and planning to make this project successful. The IFC will be partnering with an Egyptian business association to create this platform for working women and their peers that raises awareness and shares knowledge, as well as improves women’s access to jobs.

From the private sector, four CEOs that have influence over a large spectrum of businesses will lead the Accelerator. Representatives from the private sector include the Commercial International Bank (CIB), Qala’a Holdings, Travco Group International and Delta Investment Holdings. From the public sphere, the program will be led by the Ministry of International Cooperation and the National Commission for Women (NCW).

Egypt is the first country in the African and Middle Eastern region to launch a program that collaborates between the public and private sectors to take action on economic gender parity. As the title “Closing The Gender Gap Accelerator” suggests, the program focuses on four objectives to accelerate gender parity in the workforce in Egypt.

Targeting Obstacles

These objectives are: preparing women for the working world post-COVID-19 pandemic, closing gender gaps in salary, getting more women to participate in Egypt’s workforce and advancing women in the workforce to take part in more leadership and management positions. This program is a three-year initiative that came about as a solution to the serious threats posed to women’s engagement in Egypt’s economy during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The program plans to help make businesses more resilient and inclusive, especially during a crisis.

According to the Ministry of International Cooperation, “The Accelerator is designed to identify key economic gender gaps, develop public and private-sector interventions for narrowing these gaps and commit relevant stakeholders from both sectors to a three-year action plan.”

A recent study showed that Egypt’s gross domestic product (GDP) could jump 32% if the gender gap in the labor market narrowed. Currently, the gender wage gap stands at 22% with women being paid less for the same work as men. With this commitment from both sectors of the country’s economy, it is hopeful that not only will Egypt’s GDP be raised, but there will be great strides taken towards economic gender parity in African and Middle Eastern regions.

– Giulia Silver
Photo: Flickr

Sudanese RefugeesMany refugees in Sudan fled on foot to Egypt to escape violent and impoverished conditions in Sudan. About 3.8 million Sudanese refugees currently live in neighboring Egypt, which is a popular destination for Sudanese refugees because the country is accessible on foot and the refugees are still able to receive help from relatives. Egypt is a close destination and for some, it is a stopping point before they attempt to flee to Europe, which is an even more dangerous route. Although they may flee to Egypt, however, many face adversities of discrimination and poverty once there.

Sudanese Refugees

Many Sudanese flee their home country to other regions of Africa due to political conflict and economic turmoil. Refugees in Sudan escape their country on foot to neighboring countries. When the first civil war started about 60 years ago in southern Sudan, Sudanese refugees began to flee to Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Many individuals have fled for different reasons; some flee to obtain better rights, but in particular, many flee to escape religious persecutions. One Sudanese man was targeted due to his Christian faith and the police told him to renounce his faith. The Muslim faith is prominent and individuals who practice the Christian faith have suffered persecution. Since he continued to believe in his religion, the man went to jail where he faced beatings and torture. After spending weeks in jail, the Sudanese man fled to Cairo, Egypt.

Sudanese Refugees Face Discrimination in Egypt

Many refugees in Sudan flee to Egypt resulting in a burden on resources. Overall, Egypt hosts millions of refugees who flee their country’s terrible conditions, only to face racism in Egypt. Some Egyptians will call Sudanese refugees slaves and other ethnic slurs. Some have faced harassment that brings up traumatic memories and flashbacks of violent conditions they experienced in Sudan, including torture and rape. Sudanese children are sometimes bullied in school. Egyptians and even refugees from other countries exhibit this behavior.

Some individuals in Egypt recognize there is a problem and acknowledge that Sudanese refugees are negatively treated. The president of Egypt, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi calls for his citizens to take action and to not mistreat Sudanese refugees. In 2018, an Egyptian court sentenced a man to seven years in prison for harassing, beating and killing a South Sudanese teacher who worked with refugees in Cairo.

Sudanese Refugees Face Poverty in Egypt

More than 5 million refugees in Sudan left their country to escape poverty but have subsequently faced financial hardships in Egypt. Sudanese refugees in Egypt are provided with 1,500 Egyptian pounds (LE) for every child from the United Nations through the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), with no additional assistance from the state. Thus, it is difficult for the refugees to pay for schools and other expenses. At the same time, it is difficult for a Sudanese refugee to find work in Egypt, even for those with higher education, since the residence permit does not allow work. Many who do find jobs work by cleaning houses and shops.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many refugees in Sudan have faced an increased level of previous hardships. A fifth of foreigners were vulnerable and lost their jobs from the COVID-19 lockdowns in Egypt. In addition, many Egyptians have lost their jobs and in return have been forced to let go of migrant workers from Africa and Asia.

A Sudanese charity has financially helped more than 500 struggling families whose breadwinners have lost their jobs. Eviction has been a major problem for Sudanese refugees in Egypt, some of whom are attempting to return home.

Many Sudanese refugees escape their home country, only to face similar problems. Impoverished conditions continue to follow them within Egypt, although many strive to work harder in the new country. Organizations within Egypt need to help to eliminate discrimination against Sudanese refugees to alleviate their added struggles.

Ann Ciancia
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Egypt
With more than 98 million people, Egypt remains the most populated country in North Africa. More than 32.5% of citizens live below the poverty line, making malnutrition and hunger in Egypt pressing issues. The current influx of poverty leaves children and adults without proper education, left to partake in dangerous and under-compensated work such as mining, quarrying and cement production.

The Situation

Although marketplaces are bustling and full, Egypt relies on imported foods. As the world’s largest wheat producer, Egypt is at risk of any drastic changes in commodity pricing and economies. While markets have more than enough fruits, vegetables and bread, most of the population cannot purchase essential grocery items. Without the capacity to control possible economic fluctuations, Egypt’s vulnerability leaves its hungriest citizens without a safety net from their government, let alone their savings.

Egypt’s hunger crisis is an accumulation of many setbacks, including global financial crises, food shortages and disease. Yet another economic or social misfortune has followed each attempted effort towards success. As a result, more than 1.3% of Egypt’s population was living with less than $1.90 to spend per day in 2015; the average American spends $164.55 per day.

How Did This Happen?

Since the early 2000s, Egypt has faced a series of difficulties including the 2006 avian influenza, food and fuel crisis of 2007, economic despair through 2009 and most recently, COVID-19. As a country treading between minor stability and complete poverty, each challenge, both global and local, has severe implications for Egypt and its people.

Hunger in Egypt has roots in food costs; a majority of the Egyptian population can only afford minimally nutritious meals. A 2011 UN World Health Organization study found that 31% of Egyptian children less than 5 years old suffer from stunted growth in comparison to 23% in 2005. Malnutrition not only affects brain development but also contributes to a cycle that perpetuates and exacerbates Egypt’s weaknesses.

Malnourished children cannot perform well in school; malnourished workers are incapable of providing for themselves and their families, making financial and cultural growth seemingly impossible.

Solutions

The prominent changes in Egypt’s condition are a result of the Egypt Vision 2030. As a roadmap to Egypt’s eventual security, Egypt Vision 2030 emerged to increase employment rates, begin food security initiatives, increase clean water access and generate accessible screening and treatment for malnourished individuals.

The mission is that by 2030, Egypt will rank within the top 30 countries for economy size, market competitiveness, human development, life quality and anti-corruption. With such improvements, eradicating hunger in Egypt becomes possible.

Within the economic and social dimensions of the plan, the sixth pillar outlines that by 2030, improvements in health conditions will occur through “early intervention, preventative coverage,” guaranteed protection for the vulnerable and prioritizing the satisfaction of health sector employees.

These extensive efforts have led to program and policy implementation, propelling Egypt to meet its targets. For instance, at the onset of the plan in 2015, the malnourishment rate was 4.5%. By 2030, Egypt hoped the rate would be below 3%. With 10 years until the 2030 deadline, 3.2% of the Egyptian population is malnourished. It is evident that the strategy behind Vision 2030 is effective.

Feeding Children Through Education

A vital pillar of the Egypt Vision 2030 is the National Strategic Plan for Pre-University Education. The World Food Programme (WFP) is spearheading the plan to increase school meals’ nutritional value. Though it helps enrolled students, the plan does not benefit children not attending school. The school meals incentivize students to attend, serving as an aspect Egypt tactfully uses to increase pre-university enrollment rates.

The Pre-University Education Plan resulted from new investment and financing strategies to develop curriculum, financial aid, illiteracy and dropout elimination programs, technical teacher training and recurring student assessments to ensure the meeting of international standards. To execute these programs, The National Strategic Plan for Pre-University Education set a goal to spend 8% of GDP shares on pre-university education by 2030. Currently, that number is at 6%, double the initial percentage that Egypt spent in 2014. Additionally, Egypt’s Ministry of Finance reported an 82% spending increase in education and health. With increased pre-university education attendance, children receive nutritionally balanced meals every day. Health and education funding creates a domino effect, which will eventually lead to the elimination of hunger in Egypt.

The budget increase, in addition to malnourishment, serves Egypt’s education system. Classroom sizes decreased from an average of 42 students in 2015 to between 23 and 16 in 2019. The National Strategic Plan for Pre-University Education 2030 target was to have an average of 35 students per classroom. Egypt’s strategies prove to be highly successful, as its school attendance numbers are higher than its once-projected targets.

Higher enrollment, smaller classroom sizes and well-trained teachers have replaced Egypt’s dated culture of memorization. This new approach emphasizes individual learning, life principles, and modern technology. Repairing the education systems tears has an undeniable correlation to employment and hunger rates.  In changing the fundamentals of the educational experience, Egyptian students now have proper nourishment. As a result, they can have the brainpower to master skill sets that will earn them stable jobs with livable incomes, thus ending the cycle of poverty.

Aid from organizations like the UN and World Food Programme, in collaboration with the Egypt Vision 2030, can eradicate hunger in Egypt. In breaking the cycle of malnourishment and lack of education, Egypt will continue on its path towards growth, prosperity and stability.

– Maya Sulkin
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Eradication in Egypt
Innovations in poverty eradication in Egypt have taken a sustainable and decentralized form in the last four years. Through local initiatives and collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Egypt has incorporated social welfare and development programs aimed at improving the standard of living in its poorest governorates and providing a permanent path out of poverty for future generations.

With Egypt’s poverty rate rising to 5% in 2019, how exactly does Egypt plan to have a “competitive, balanced, diversified, and knowledge based economy” that would eliminate poverty by 2030?

UNDP Sustainable Development Strategies

One significant innovation in poverty eradication in Egypt is the UNDP’s adoption of a social entrepreneurial and minority centralized model. Through partnerships with Egypt’s public sector, private companies and civil society, the UNDP not only helped prioritize economic development but also made women, children and disabled people a focal point.

  1. The GSER Program: The GSER program under the Misr El-Kheir Foundation, a nonprofit development institution in Egypt, organizes social innovation camps with UNDP’s support. Youth from all parts of Egypt co-scheme solutions to improve the livelihoods in Fayoum’s fishing community, one of Egypt’s poorest governorates. Accomplishments include a redesigned shrimp peeling table for fishermen’s wives, which advanced hygiene and shell quality in Fayoum.
  2. The IBM Academic Initiative: The IBM Academic Initiative invested $70 million with the objective of providing over 25 million Africans free digital skills training and launching one of its regional offices in Egypt. UNDP’s contributions will help Egypt cultivate a STEM-oriented workforce through access to IBM’s cutting edge tools and course material.
  3. The Game Changer Fellowship: The Game Changer Fellowship is a one-year program that provides incubation support to aspiring Egyptian game designers through a partnership between UNDP Egypt and the Engagement Lab at Emerson College in Boston, U.S.A. This has enabled Egypt’s youth to uniquely approach development challenges by stimulating behavior change. Given that 84% of Egypt’s unemployment rate comprises young men and women, such initiatives are imperative in enhancing human capital in order to prevent an underdeveloped workforce.
  4. The Mobile Ramp App: The Mobile Ramp App helps Egypt’s disabled community lead easier, more integrated lives. UNDP partnered with Fab Lab Egypt and the Misr El-Kheir Foundation to launch a media campaign that promotes and teaches sign language as well as maps out locations with available ramps.

J-PAL’s (Abdul Latif Jamil Poverty Action Lab) Innovative Research

Despite these innovations in poverty eradication in Egypt, reports determined that there were 32.5% of Egyptian citizens living below the poverty line in 2019. According to J-PAL, a global research center aiming to reduce poverty, this extreme poverty figure of 32.5% indicates that the policies and programs designed to alleviate Egypt’s poverty are not as effective as they could be.

In order to achieve successful innovations in poverty eradication in Egypt, J-PAL’s MIT branch is launching a research center at the American University in Cairo. Through research and professional training to inform evidence-based policies and engage governments and relevant NGOs, Egypt will establish a culture of empirical policy making so that it can adequately evaluate the efficacy of its plans. 

Institutionalizing Social Innovation and Sustainable Development

While international efforts facilitate innovations in poverty eradication in Egypt, government and grassroots organizations in Egypt have adopted technological and sustainable based solutions to economic problems through their own localized projects and findings.

  1. The Egyptian Government: The Egyptian government is investing EGP 47bn ($3 billion) to Upper Egypt governorates in its 2020-2021 fiscal year. This is a 50% increase from 2019, representing 25% of total government investments.
  2. The Takaful and Karama Program: The Takaful and Karama program provides income support to the poor through a conditional and unconditional cash transfer program that aims to increase food consumption and necessary healthcare. Nevin al Qabbaj, the Social Solidarity Minister, reported that by 2020 around 2.5 million Egyptian families have benefited from the program.
  3. SEKEM: SEKEM, an Egyptian sustainable development organization, is working with the Egyptian government to implement Egypt Vision 2030. The plan includes 12 “pillars” targeting economic development, social justice, innovative research, education, health and the environment. Additionally, along with local NGOs, SEKEM has revitalized Egypt’s desert land and developed its agricultural businesses using biodynamic methods.

Egypt’s ability to mitigate poverty across all demographics using sustainable, innovative and ethical practices is testimony to its economic and cultural prosperity. Egypt’s innovations in poverty eradication are unique in that they exemplify the duality of individual, entrepreneurial growth in the private sphere and collective, righteous leadership in the public sphere.

– Joy Arkeh
Photo: Flickr

Hepatitis C in Egypt
In Egypt, the country with the highest prevalence of hepatitis C in the world, the virus affects an estimated 6.3% of the population. Since 2014, Egypt has made great leaps in combatting hepatitis C. With support from the World Bank, the Transforming Egypt’s Healthcare System Project has worked to improve the quality of healthcare offered across medical facilities, as well as tested and treated patients infected with hepatitis C. Between 2018 and 2019, almost 50 million citizens were tested and 2 million patients received free treatment.

What is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C, or HCV, is a viral infection transmitted through unscreened blood transfusions and the use of contaminated or unsterilized needles, as well as instruments used for tattooing or body piercing. While it can remain asymptomatic — in most cases, if untreated, hepatitis C can eventually cause chronic infections, liver inflammation (or failure) and death. Hepatitis C is a serious public health issue, which causes financial and social stress for patients and Egypt as a whole.

The hepatitis C epidemic began in Egypt during the 1950s–1980s, with the use of poorly sterilized needles in the treatment of schistosomiasis, a disease caused by parasitic worms. The anti-schistosomiasis treatment campaign terminated in the 1980s. However, HCV incidence rates remained high, despite regular screening of blood at blood banks and attempts to improve public health standards.

Mass Screening & Awareness Programs

In 2014, the Egyptian Ministry of Health, with support from the WHO, proposed with a program to educate, test and treat patients infected with hepatitis C, particularly in rural areas where the condition was more prevalent. Most of the treated citizens already had a positive diagnosis for the virus. Later, as the number of patients began to stagnate and dwindle. Efforts then shifted to testing and treating those who had possible infections but remained asymptomatic.

In 2018, a national population-based screening program was launched to test 62 million adults and 15 million adolescents. Additionally, the free screening program also included tests for diabetes, obesity and blood pressure. The program, offered at screening centers and mobile units set up at community spaces such as mosques, youth centers and factories — also provides HCV treatments.

Low-Cost Drugs & Free Treatment

The Egyptian government successfully negotiated significant price reductions for direct-acting antiviral (DAA) drugs with the drug manufacturer. Egypt achieved a further reduction in prices by permitting local, generic competition. This reduced the price for one DAA drug from $28,000 to $23 (for a one-month supply) and a second drug from $21,000 to $3.30. This allowed the Egyptian government to combat the epidemic on a scale that would have otherwise been impossible.

Furthermore, the Egyptian government offered a 12-week treatment program and follow-up care, free of cost for citizens. Between 2014 and 2019, the Egyptian government offered free care to 88% of patients.

A Healthcare Model for the World

The Egyptian government, with support from the World Bank and in alignment with the WHO, has made continued efforts to tackle hepatitis C through mass programs that spread awareness among citizens. These same programs provide free, accessible testing, vaccination, infection control, treatment and follow-up. While Egypt is still working to rescue its population from this epidemic, the country offers a model of admirable success for the rest world.

Amy Olassa
Photo: Flickr

#metoo movement in EgyptEgypt has consistently struggled with sexual assault, an issue that goes hand-in-hand with poverty. A United Nations study showed that 99% of all Egyptian women have experienced some form of sexual assault. Additionally, another study in 2017 declared Cairo the most dangerous city in the world for women. Learn about the history and reasoning behind the #MeToo movement in Egypt.

Egypt’s History of Sexual Violence

The #MeToo movement in Egypt may be contemporary, but Egypt’s sexual assault problem has been around for many years. In an attempt to replace the president of Egypt with a more democratic figure, people took to the streets in early 2011 in what is known as the Arab Spring. Although the protests succeeded in orchestrating the resignation of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, any dreams of a democratic ruler failed to come true, and women faced worsening sexual violence.

Under Mubarak’s rule, sexual assault was covered up by the president’s own police force. After these aggressive authorities were removed, Egypt’s sexual assault issue was thrust into the world spotlight when stories emerged of several women being sexually assaulted in a public square in Cairo. The perpetrators faced no consequences, and the women were blamed for their own assaults. This paved the way for future sexual assaults to go unpunished in Egypt.

The Allegation that Reignited the Movement

Despite protests and performative legislative changes, the sexual assault of lower-class citizens in Egypt continues to occur at alarming rates. Ahmed Bassam Zaki, a 22-year-old former student at the American International School and the American University in Cairo, was accused of sexual assault by over 100 women in June 2020. The schools Zaki attended are regarded as some of Egypt’s most elite universities for wealthy families, which is what makes his case so unique. For the first time, an upper-class male was held responsible for sexual violence.

Zaki has been officially accused of blackmail and rape, with one of his victims being just 14 years old. Combined with several other stories of sexual assault that emerged in the last decade, this story contributed to the resurgence of the #MeToo movement in Egypt. The country’s campaign is supported by an Instagram account called Assault Police, where Egyptian women have shared their stories of assault. Zaki’s story clearly demonstrates that, regardless of age or social standing, sexual harassment is a rampant issue throughout Egypt. Although this concept applies to countries worldwide, the Egyptian government’s choice to ignore this problem has earned Cairo its reputation as an unsafe space.

Change Is on the Horizon

The Egyptian government has prioritized its presently unstable economy over many of its other problems, including sexual violence. Although Egyptian women have protested this issue in the past, their protests have failed to gain traction due to the dangers they face in public places. Furthermore, the default response to a woman’s sexual assault story in Egypt is to place the blame on her for dressing or behaving a certain way. Both of these considerations have essentially barred women from coming forward to share their stories, until now.

Women have embraced the opportunity to finally share their stories, and the prosecution of wealthy men like Zaki is a powerful step in the right direction. In response to Egypt’s #MeToo movement and the Assault Police Instagram page, current president Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has enacted a law that increases protections for sexual assault victims. Although the country still has much work to do, the #MeToo movement in Egypt has made one thing clear: the country’s women refuse to be silenced any longer.

– Natalie Tarbox

Photo: Flickr

Fast Track COVID-19 FacilityAs of July, the World Bank committed $7.9 million in COVID-19 treatment and prevention aid to Egypt with the Fast Track Covid-19 Facility project. To find out more about this aid, The Borgen Project has interviewed the World Bank’s team of Egypt correspondents.

Interview With the World Bank’s Team of Correspondents

1. Could you speak more about why Egypt qualifies for the World Bank’s new Fast Track COVID-19 Facility and why the World Bank spurred this initiative?

“In March, the World Bank’s Board of Directors approved a package of fast-track financing to assist countries in their efforts to prevent, detect and respond to the rapid spread of COVID-19. The Bank organized and approved the fast track facility to quickly get resources to countries dealing with a fast-moving, global public health crisis.

As an IBRD* member, Egypt qualified for $50 million funding, the maximum amount available under the Facility based on the criteria of population size.

More information on the World Bank Group’s COVID-19 operational response is available on our website.”

*IBRD, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, consists of countries that are pre-approved for World Bank lending.

2. What organizations in Egypt will receive this funding? Why are these organizations chosen?

“The World Bank’s Egypt office worked closely with our counterparts in the Ministry of Health and Population to design the project, with funds that continue to support:

  1. procuring and distributing medical equipment and supplies necessary for the COVID-19 response
  2. health worker training
  3. operations of specifically designated quarantine, isolation and treatment centers
  4. mobilization of rapid response teams in contact tracing of COVID-19 cases
  5. development of contextualized messaging platforms and tools to improve public awareness of COVID prevention
  6. innovative monitoring and evaluation of social distancing strategies including community mobilization.

After receiving the funds, the Government of Egypt decides which organizations are chosen to execute specific parts of the project, such as the procurement of equipment. As part of the project, the World Bank’s technical experts continue to advise the Government of Egypt on technical issues related to the execution and evaluation of the project.”

3. What strategies does the World Bank use to ensure its funding avoids corrupt hands?

“With all of its operations, the World Bank has zero tolerance for fraud and corruption, and we take very seriously our obligation to ensure that the Bank’s funds are used for clearly defined activities and reach affected communities.

Emergency financing provided by the World Bank is subject to the same high level of safeguards as regular financing, including reporting requirements and oversight requirements. With the COVID-19 Facility, as in all World Bank operations, we have put checks and balances into place to help address fiduciary risks.

Additionally, the World Bank Group’s sanctions system ensures that fraud and corruption impacting WBG-financed activities are addressed efficiently and fairly, and that a strong deterrence message is complemented with a focus on prevention and integrity compliance programs.

More information on the World Bank’s procurement framework can be found on our website.”

Rory Davis
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in Egypt
In early 2020, the population of Egypt increased to more than 100 million. Overcrowding in urban spaces, with an estimated 95% of the population living on about 4% of the land, has aggravated pollution and traffic while placing a strain on resources, such as clean drinking water. The poverty rate was at 32.5% in 2019, and unemployment, especially among youths, has elevated the need for affordable, accessible and quality healthcare. In recent years, these concerns have led to the implementation of measures to reform Egypt’s underfunded public healthcare system. Here are seven facts about healthcare in Egypt and measures to reform the system.

7 Facts About Healthcare in Egypt

  1. In Egypt, the Ministry of Health and Population governs the healthcare system comprised of the government, public/parastatal and private healthcare sectors. In 2016, reports determined that there were 1.5 beds per 1,000 people This is low in comparison to the world average of 2.7 beds per 1,000 people.
  2. The public/parastatal sector consists of quasi-governmental organizations such as the Health Insurance Organization and the Curative Care Organization. Citizens can obtain insurance coverage via private insurers who have government support. However, many consider services that public healthcare facilities to be low in quality due to years of underfunding. The lack of medical equipment and qualified personnel in combination with low sanitation and compromised safety measures, especially in facilities located in rural areas, compel citizens to turn to private facilities.
  3. Private healthcare facilities consist of nonprofit organizations and for-profit hospitals, clinics and pharmacies. With increased privatization and better quality healthcare, these facilities account for the dominant portion of services that Egypt provides. People largely have to pay expenses out-of-pocket (60% of health spending, as recorded in 2007-2008) and accessible only to people who can afford care. The private healthcare sector is highly fragmented, with the fewest number of beds in comparison to government and public/parastatal facilities.
  4. In 2017, reports determined that the maternal mortality ratio was 37 per 100,000 live births. The ratio has decreased substantially since 2000 when records stated it was at 64 per 100,000 live births. In the past few years, the WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA have worked with the Ministry of Health and Population to improve the quality of obstetric and emergency care, access to family planning as well as midwifery and nursing care.
  5. In 2018, the Universal Health Insurance Law emerged to restructure the healthcare system by providing universal health coverage and making healthcare services affordable to all citizens. In June 2020, The World Bank announced $400 million in support of the implementation of the Universal Health Insurance System. The phased implementation of this law should be complete by 2032. It requires compulsory enrollment by all citizens residing in the country, with vulnerable groups receiving subsidization from the government. This law is also in alignment with the nation’s focus on preserving human capital through better prenatal and early childhood care.
  6. In Egypt, hepatitis C, an epidemic that has stretched across three decades, affected an estimated 6.3% of the population. In 2018, The Transforming Egypt’s Healthcare System Project emerged in alignment with the WHO’s Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis and with active support from The World Bank. The project accomplished mass-screening that tested more than 50 million residents and offered free treatment to more than 2 million patients.
  7. As of July 2020, Egypt has reported more than 4,000 deaths and over 85,000 cases of COVID-19. However, since testing is limited, the actual numbers could be higher. The pandemic has uncovered a lack of sufficient PPE supply and exposed a strained public healthcare system. In May, 2020, The World Bank provided $50 million in funding to Egypt’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Project.

Egypt still requires work to reform its healthcare system. However, the implementation of the Universal Health Insurance Law and continued support from international organizations, such as The World Bank, is helping make a change. These combined efforts are working to make quality healthcare accessible to all citizens of Egypt.

Amy Olassa
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Women in EgyptRecently, five young Egyptian women were sentenced to two years in jail each for violating public morals through videos they uploaded to TikTok. These women in Egypt are influencers on TikTok and Instagram and have over two million followers. Haneen Hossam, a 20-year-old student at Cairo University, uploaded the video. In the video, she encouraged other young women to meet and cultivate friendships with men. Men are able to do this through a sponsored video chat app.

More Inequality Toward Women in Egypt

This repressive verdict is only the most recent in a series of laws and court decisions. Similar to others, it squashes young women’s freedom of expression in Egypt. This is especially done on the internet. More than 40% of Egyptian youths are regular internet users, which opens many doors for communication, education and entertainment. However, the certain punishments of young women for their behavior on the internet do not apply to young men in the same way. For instance, a belly dancer who posted videos on the internet was sentenced to three years of imprisonment for debauchery, and other female singers, artists and dancers have received similar treatment.

Given that gender equality and women’s empowerment are crucial to eradicating global poverty, attacks on women like these by the Egyptian government are especially troubling. In light of these disturbing outcomes for young women in Egypt, it is important to highlight nongovernmental organizations. These are the NGOs that do the important work of fighting for gender equality and empowerment in Egypt. The below organizations work to elevate women’s status in Egyptian society by providing opportunities for economic participation. They also work to address sexual violence and improve access to education.

What is Being Done

Only 26% of Egyptian women participate in the labor force, compared with 79% of men. Women in developing economies that include the economy of Egypt will forge progress in gender equality, economic growth, and poverty eradication.

The Center of Egyptian Family Development operates in Upper Egypt, providing women with economic opportunities. The NGO provides technical training and marketing support for handicraft production offered exclusively to women in this area. The NGO has reached nearly 340 women with its economic initiatives and has seen numerous positive outcomes. Communities are more aware of gender equality issues, women have improved negotiation power, and many women have since become interested in running for local elections.

Women also suffer from lower literacy rates in Egypt at 65% compared to 82% for males. Access to education for women and girls is critical to ensuring their active participation in the workforce and the reduction of poverty. One NGO working to protect access to education is the Association of the Advancement of Education. This organization prioritizes reducing dropout rates for Egyptian girls through researching and influencing education policy.

Based in Cairo, the NGO works with the United Nations as well as the Egyptian Ministry of Education to achieve its goals.

More Help from Organizations

Another enormous obstacle that women in Egypt face is the prevalence of sexual harassment and violence. Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment/Assault in Cairo provides a hotline for victims of sexual assault, and also works to combat sexual harassment in public places. This organization steps in to evacuate women from violent situations. It also provides them with legal and medical assistance and operates safe houses as well. The group also believes in the importance of female participation in its cause. It erodes the narrative that women need to be rescued by men. Activist Reem Labib said, “The solution is not just for men to defend us. We, too, have to participate.” Where the Egyptian government and courts fail the women of the country, groups such as OpAntiSH step in.

 

The NGOs highlighted above are only a few of the myriad organizations working tirelessly toward women’s equality and empowerment in Egypt. They face many barriers like the recent women’s censorship online and the harsh punishments that followed. However, one thing is clear: Egyptian women have demonstrated their refusal to be silent and complicit. As a result, a new generation of young activists yields hope.

 

Addison Collins
Photo: Care