Infotmation and stories on Egypt

Tekeya
In Egypt, the impoverished population makes up 30.6 million of the total population of 102 million people. The issue of food insecurity in Egypt is juxtaposed with the country’s food waste problem. Food waste is a prevalent issue in Egypt, with the average Egyptian throwing out more than 150 pounds of food annually. The Tekeya food app aims to address both food waste and food insecurity simultaneously, transforming food waste into meals in Egypt.

Food Insecurity and Food Waste

Research projects that Egypt’s exponentially growing population will increase to 150 million people by 2050. This rapid population growth will add pressure to the food insecurity issue Egypt has tried to manage over the last decade. The reality is that 23% of all Egyptian households “struggle to meet their basic food needs.” The consequences of changing weather coupled with rising food costs are likely to push more families into food insecurity, extending the almost 5% rate of Egyptians who live with the reality of food insecurity.

Fruit and vegetables, milk, wheat and fish are some of Egypt’s most popular yet most wasted foods. On the production end, annually, up to 55% of produce spoils even before reaching a supermarket. In a 2015 study on household food waste, 86.2% of respondents admitted to discarding food. In addition to households, restaurants, hotels and grocery stores regularly throw out perfectly edible and delicious meals. While this is highly problematic all year, during Ramadan, a minimum of 60% of all food goes in the trash, largely due to excess shopping for holiday entertainment purposes.

Tekeya’s Work

Egypt’s high poverty rate coupled with its high food waste rate presents an ideal opportunity for the entrepreneurs behind the Tekeya app, Menna Shahin and Maxim Haartsen. In 2019, the co-founders launched Tekeya to reduce food waste and combat hunger in Egypt. The app only accepts high-quality foods donated from restaurants, bakeries and supermarkets. Businesses either sell or donate meals to Tekeya with the goal of decreasing their surplus of food at the end of the day. Every meal on the app offers healthy, fresh and sustaining options at a discounted rate, making quality food more readily available to low-income communities.

Through hard work, the co-founders created deals and programs with various NGOs, charities and orphanages as soon as six months after releasing the app. The phenomenal success of the app demonstrates peoples’ desire to live sustainably and help others in need. In addition to fighting food waste and insecurity, Tekeya’s work helps decrease the carbon footprint caused by food waste. To date, Tekeya has stopped more than 88,000 pounds of CO2 from entering the environment.

Today, Tekeya has prevented the wastage of 8,000 meals in Egypt, donating around 3,500 of these meals through the participation of 90 local business owners. With both delivery and pickup options at eight locations throughout Cairo, this app makes food much more accessible for many Egyptians. Tekeya’s legacy is spreading throughout Egypt with 7,000 downloads and counting. The donation portion of the app allows international relatives and friends to donate meals and groceries to family through 75 local charities.

Future Expansion

Shahin and Haartsen have big plans for expanding Tekeya throughout Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries. Locally, they plan to improve the app’s donation ability. Tekeya also aims to supply refugee women with meals in Egypt during their transition into Egyptian society by working with the local refugee resettlement organization Threads of Hope.

While local initiatives are a priority, the co-founders plan to share their innovative idea to help others in need internationally. Shahin told Egypt Independent that “[Tekeya] started in Egypt by serving in Aswan, Alexandria, Sharqia, Cario and Giza. [Tekeya] will expand to other Arab countries and then open up to the whole world.” By expanding their successful food waste solution, Shahin and Haartsen have the opportunity to change how the world manages food waste while aiding impoverished communities.

– Hannah Eliason
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Egypt 
Egypt is a place that inspires the imagination of many around the world. Located in northeastern Africa with a population of about 100 million people, Egypt was home to one of the world’s earliest urban and literate societies and continues to be an important political and economic power today. Furthermore, in recent years, Egypt has made a lot of progress in addressing poverty. Here are four facts about poverty in Egypt.

4 Facts About Poverty in Egypt

  1. Egypt’s Poverty Rate. Egypt’s poverty rate decreased in 2021. In 2015, the Egyptian government implemented a series of macroeconomic and social reforms. These measures were meant to stabilize the economy and promote sustainable growth. As a result of an increase in private sector participation in the economy, Egypt’s GDP growth reached 5.6% in 2019, up from 5.3% in 2018. Additionally, real estate, wholesale and retail trade, tourism, gas extraction and construction have all been significant factors in the growth of wealth. The change also positively impacted the unemployment rate, which decreased from 9.9% in 2017-18 to 7.5% in 2018-19. With a decrease in unemployment comes a decrease in poverty, except for the 2020 economic downfall due to coronavirus. The 2021 poverty level is 29.7%, while it was at 32.5% in 2018.
  2. Workers in Egypt. Despite positive trends in GDP growth and unemployment rates, Egypt’s poverty rate increased in 2017 and 2018. The majority of workers in Egypt were wage workers before and in 2018. Most of them had limited skills and therefore limited opportunities. Almost 60% of wage workers have informal employment, as is the case for 77% of poor wage workers. Apart from that, about one-fourth of the employed work temporary jobs. Without benefits of social insurance, inflation and other economic changes are likely to affect them.
  3. New Social Protection Programs. Egypt has struggled to meet the basic medical needs of its people in past years, but the country has had success with other social protection programs. The country transitioned from a traditional social care system to a more comprehensive social protection program. The new programs have provided housing units, implemented cash support and provided water and sewage support. The country has also worked with relevant authorities to secure health insurance and subsidized products for its people. This has allowed many individuals and families to rise out of the poverty line. The program has allowed more people to benefit from it because it aids those wanting to get out from below the poverty line, and it has worked. There has also been a 22% increase in loans and a 50% increase in pensions.
  4. Haya Karima National Project. In direct response to the high rate of extreme poverty in Egypt in 2018, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) initiated the Haya Karima Project in early 2019. The project was to help decentralize and provide the people with more resources while expanding from urban areas to the countryside. According to the Haya Karima Project’s website, “The initiative’s role includes closing the developmental gaps among centers and villages and their dependencies, investing in human development, and enhancing the value of the Egyptian personality.” This program is designed to unify the people in an economic sense and their country while keeping in mind all those on the outside borders. The program is ultimately about empowering the people and improving the quality of life for Egyptians.

Looking Ahead

These facts about poverty in Egypt show that while it has had several challenges, it is also showing great progress in the fight against poverty. With the series of new reforms, the Egyptian government has implemented new policies to lift people out of poverty. Decreasing the poverty rate can bring improvements in various sectors such as education and health care. If the country continues to improve its social protection programs, then it can set an example for the countries in the region.

– Veronica Rosas
Photo: Unsplash

Egyptian EconomyEconomies worldwide have been hit hard by the pandemic. However, few have been able to come out positively. The Egyptian economy has been able to make meaningful economic progress, such as through GDP growth, throughout 2020 and 2021. As it is working toward poverty reduction, Egypt is an example of how to keep an economy steady. Egypt has been fighting poverty for more than a decade now – a third of Egyptians live in poverty and half of the population is either in or near poverty.

Egypt’s Economic Steps

The Egyptian economy has taken economic hits in the past several years. However, that does not mean recent steps are not worth mentioning. Egypt has recently seen poverty reduction for the first time in 20 years due to the reforms taken by the government. At the end of 2016, several economic reforms started a turning point for Egypt. The Economic Reform Program is made up of currency policies, decreasing dependence on fuel and electricity, increasing job opportunities (particularly for women), implementing structural business reforms, and endorsing economic acts to further progress. Certain moves also attracted many investors to Egypt, boosting the economy. Social programs targeted at more individual and community levels have also lifted 1,000 villages out of poverty. These broad economic reforms have also strengthened Egypt for the pandemic.

COVID’s Impact, and Fighting Through It

The past few years have had a monumental impact worldwide. Nearly every economic power has suffered a decline or a recession. One worry within Egypt is that the recent growth would collapse on itself. The pandemic did impact job creation and the private sector, but not enough to make a dent in progress. Previous actions have cushioned Egypt, such as the poverty rate going down from 32.5% to 29.7% in the fiscal year 2019-2020. This monumental victory for Egypt and for poverty worldwide took place over two years.

The Future of Egypt

Egypt Vision 2030 is the long-term future that is planned out for Egypt. As Salah Hashim, advisor for the Ministry of Social Solidarity for Political Policies, put it, “Egypt Vision 2030 has focused on promoting social justice, not only helping the poor and low-income people like before.” This shows that Egypt is willing to tackle injustice in multiple systems. The Egyptian economy should be an example for other countries struggling to build economic growth sustainably. While poverty is still abundant, this growth shows a bright future for Egypt’s economy and its future.

– Audrey Burran
Photo: Flickr

Decent LifeEgypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi kicked off the first stage of Egypt’s groundbreaking anti-poverty project, the “Decent Life” (Haya Karima) Initiative, at the first conference on July 15, 2021. Al-Sisi declared that this initiative would kickstart “Egypt’s New Republic” especially in the Egyptian countryside. The massive development and resource injection into education and health infrastructure, primarily in rural areas, appears as if it will significantly improve the Egyptian landscape for the future. This initiative comes at a crucial turning point in a country that has struggled significantly with poverty over the past years. Statistics such as how 32.5% of Egyptians reported being below the poverty line in 2019 or how the pandemic has increased the official unemployment rate to 9.6% as of November 2020 highlight Egypt’s difficult poverty battle. However, with the ‘Decent Life’ Initiative in action with its numerous quality components, Egypt’s economy looks to be turning a corner.

Four Pillars

Within the framework of the UN Egypt Vision 2030 Strategy, the initiative consists of four main pillars:
1. To ameliorate living standards and invest in human capital,
2. To grow infrastructure services,
3. To improve human development services,
4. To spur economic development especially by contributing to the poorest villages with increased access to basic services such as sanitation and education infrastructure.

These pillars provide the foundation for how Egypt is tackling poverty in a more assertive manner.

First Phases

Prior to President Al-Sisi establishing the initiative, he launched an unofficial phase of the project in 2019. This came in the form of him pressuring the Minister of Social Solidarity to develop Egypt’s 1,000 poorest villages. After the success of this stage of the process, the official first phase started in January 2021. This first phase expands the number of targeted villages to 4,500, covering 58% of the country’s population.

Since January 2021, the initiative has taken crucial steps in developing Suhag water and sanitation services in 33 villages, renovating transportation stations at a cost of EGP 183 million (almost $12 million), and creating new transportation stations at a cost of EGP 219 million (almost $14 million). This process forms as the initial stages of the 2021-22 plan of the initiative, which carries with it a budget of EGP 200 billion (almost $13 billion).

The 2021-22 plan for the initiative has specific and bold aims that ensure Egypt is tackling poverty in a decisive and thorough manner. Details of the 2021-22 plan include:

  • To set up 10,828 classrooms,
  • To improve 782 youth centers,
  • To renovate 317 public service buildings,
  • To develop 1,250 health care units, establish 389 ambulances and 510 mobile clinics, and 112 veterinary units,
  • To create 191 agricultural service centers.

Final Targets

The “Decent Life” Initiative has several end goals it aims to achieve which President El-Sisi set out. One of the main goals is that the Egyptian government plans to utilize overall investments amounting to EGP 700 billion (almost $45 billion) by the end of the project, demonstrating that Egypt is tackling poverty in an aggressive manner. President El-Sisi has also made the promise that “the Egyptian countryside will be transformed in three years’ time,” signifying an attempt to minimize the rural-urban inequality.

Regarding education and health services, the initiative is aiming to build 13,000 classrooms and activating the new Universal Health Insurance System by the project’s conclusion. The Universal Health Insurance System will consist of mandatory coverage to all citizens by unifying with the private healthcare sector and minimizing existing health insurance disparities.

UN Response

The UN has responded extremely positively to the official launch of the initiative, with the Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund, Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, stating that the UN considers the “Decent Life” project at top spot for the best application for sustainable development goals around the world and has full confidence that it will provide essential job opportunities for Egyptians in impoverished areas. Furthermore, the UN has praised the initiative as it also confirms the country’s willingness to “implement the participatory planning approach through integrating citizens in the need’s identification stage.”

–  Gabriel Sylvan

Photo: Flickr

Marital Rape in EgyptSo far, no legal action has occurred to criminalize marital rape in Egypt. As an Islamic country, Sharia law manages issues involving marriage, inheritance, divorce and child custody.

A Voice on Instagram

Egyptian fashion designer Nada Adel was married to Tameem Youness, a musician. Now divorced, Adel said in an Instagram video that people should not ignore rape just because two people are married. She claims her husband raped her while they were married for a year. This sparked debate over social media and many women called for legal action.

Adel’s ex-husband denied her claims, and those in favor of Sharia law claimed that marital rape in Egypt was nonexistent. In fact, social media user Amr Sabry argued that unless a woman is too sick or too tired, rape cannot exist within the marriage.

Who is Joining the Cause?

Actresses like Mona Zaki have spread awareness in the past by playing wives in scenes where the husband tries to force intercourse. More celebrities are taking action by prompting legislation to criminalize marital rape in support of Adel. Journalist Amr Adeeb and actress Somaya El Khashab are just two examples of renowned individuals fighting for a change in legislation.

In June 2021, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet released a statement about the violence women experience in Egypt. Bachelet stated that violence percentages have risen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With many staying home and quarantining, women have suffered at the hands of their husbands. She claimed that many women do not report the men out of fear of their community shaming them, family members initiating verbal or physical attacks on them and authorities not believing them.

Further, many women cannot report marital rape in Egypt because many do not see marital rape as an issue. Bachelet has urged for change in legislation for a better future for women in Egypt.

Religious Boundaries

Currently, a woman who reports marital rape may only succeed in their husband receiving a charge for hitting them, resulting in a misdemeanor for the husband. Ahmed El-Sabag, a scholar with Al-Azhar, claims that a husband forcing a wife into intercourse is unlawful under Sharia law.

Quoting two verses from the Quran, El-Sabag says that a husband must not have sex with his wife while she is menstruating, as to remain pure. Purity is something the relationship should have before intercourse. Therefore, violent husbands are in violation of Islamic Sharia.

The second verse explains that since wives carry children, they have a task of honor and should receive honorable treatment. A husband should show righteousness when approaching his wife and keep in mind that he respects Allah when doing so.

How Less Sexual Violence Leads to Less Poverty

Women who depend on someone else to provide food, water, shelter, clothing and more often feel they do not have a right to revoke consent, especially if they have children. However, victims of sexual violence are often the ones living in poverty. As those at greater risk, women become marginalized, leading to more stigma that results in wage gaps, violence and dependency. This leads to more families and women in poverty.

A Movement of Hope

Islamic Sharia law prohibits marital rape. It is the stigma surrounding gender that causes people to take the Quran out of context. Therefore, criminalizing marital rape for Egyptians would not violate religious expectations. As many women and men fight for these human rights, hope is an enduring light.

– Selena Soto
Photo: Unsplash

Waste Management in EgyptIn 2018, according to a report by MAGNiTT, an online community for startups and investors in the MENA region, Egypt had “the fastest-growing startup ecosystem in the Middle East and North Africa.” Both public and private initiatives have provided funding and expertise to contribute to this growth. Many of these startups tackle problems with far-reaching social and developmental consequences. Several startups are transforming waste management in Egypt by creating innovative solutions for sustainable waste management.

Baramoda

Baramoda is an agri-tech startup with the goal of “building a sustainable future for food security systems by 2050 in Africa.” Its main four concerns are the risk of water shortages, high agricultural waste, harmful chemical fertilizers and the loss of soil productivity. Roughly 80% of Egypt’s water resources are used in agriculture. With climate change pushing temperatures higher, these challenges, if left unaddressed, could trigger destabilizing water politics in the region. This would prevent millions of people from getting the water necessary to fulfill their basic needs.

Baramoda’s main product for alleviating these problems is bio-organic compost made of agricultural waste. This compost reduces irrigation demands by 30%. It also reduces the use of chemical fertilizers by 50% and increases land productivity by 20%. As of 2020, the company recycles more than 15,000 tons of waste a month which produces more than 80,000 tons of bio-organic compost. In addition to this product, Baramoda is developing an online platform for waste management in Egypt. This software will allow farmers and agricultural businesses to share information and coordinate waste collection and recycling efforts.

Bekia

Bekia is a Cairo-based startup that has set up a bartering-style system for people to exchange recyclable waste for basic goods. The company picks up customers’ recyclable waste free of charge. It in turn gives them points based on the type and amount of waste given. Customers can redeem these points on Bekia’s website for groceries, metro tickets, medicine and a variety of other household items. To finish the cycle, the company then brings the waste to recycling centers. It also fixes and resells discarded electronics if still reusable.

By December 2019, three years after Alaa Afifi Kamal founded it, Bekia had received more than 10,000 orders and collected more than 20,000 tons of waste. Since 44.8% of households in Egypt dispose of waste by dumping it on the street, bolstering waste management in Egypt through urban recycling programs fulfills an unmet social and environmental need while also being able to realize high commercial value. During the next few years, Bekia hopes to expand beyond the Egyptian cities of Cairo and Giza.

Up-fuse

Up-fuse is a Cairo-based sustainable fashion brand engaged in the upcycling of plastic bags. Upcycling is the act of reusing discarded materials in a way that produces something of greater value than the original. Up-fuse uses plastic bags to create backpacks, handbags, wallets and more. Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, it also produces face masks. Moreover, its production process is highly integrated into the local community.

The company collects vast amounts of plastic in collaboration with Manshiyat Nasser Landfill, home to more than 60,000 entrepreneurial garbage workers, also known as Zabbaleen. Up-fuse relies on artisanal workers from three Egyptian NGOs to assist with the design and processing of its recycled fabrics. These NGOs support refugees and women with disabilities. The brand began in 2013 when founders Rania Rafie and Yara Yassin noticed how, contrary to Egypt, supermarkets in Berlin charged for plastic bags. From this inspiration, Up-fuse has upcycled more than 250,000 plastic bags.

Looking Forward

Every year, Egypt generates approximately 30 million tons of agricultural waste and six million tons of industrial waste. Baramoda, Bekia and Up-fuse have each developed unique and ingenious ways of turning this environmental challenge into a social and commercial opportunity. As these startups show, a wave of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit can meet challenges, finding solutions even where the situation seems dire.

– Alexander Vanezis
Photo:Flickr

Ahmed Helmy regional ambassador UNICEFAhmed Helmy is an Egyptian actor, comedian and TV personality. Best known for his work in films such as “Molasses,” “Zaki Chan” and “Scarecrow,” Helmy is famous throughout Egypt and the Middle East, with more than 15 million followers on Instagram. Furthermore, he has served as a popular judge on Arabs Got Talent and a Samsung ambassador. While he is beloved for his acting skills and charisma, Helmy’s work with UNICEF has also received positive attention from fans. In 2017, the actor was named an ambassador for the Egypt branch of the charity. In June 2021, Ahmed Helmy became the UNICEF regional ambassador for the Middle East and North Africa.

Social Media Campaigns on Childhood Development Issues

As UNICEF’s Egypt ambassador, Helmy participated in a number of social media projects, such as the #FightUnfair campaign. #FightUnfair sought to draw attention to issues impacting Egyptian youth, such as poverty and child labor. Another campaign that Helmy participated in was the #EarlyMomentsMatter movement, which highlighted the importance of early childhood development and establishing healthy parenting habits early in a child’s life. The campaign was widely successful and featured other famous UNICEF ambassadors, such as David Beckham.

Helmy’s work with UNICEF has often involved his own family, as his wife, actress Mona Zaki, is a UNICEF Egypt ambassador herself. Together, the couple made videos discouraging violent forms of disciplinary action toward children. A collaboration between UNICEF, The National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) and the European Union allowed the campaign to reach more than 80 million people.

Visiting Refugee Children

In addition to social media campaigns, Helmy’s humanitarian work included visits to communities served by UNICEF. For example, in November of 2018, the actor visited Syrian refugee children at Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan. At the camp, UNICEF supports the quality education of more than 19,000 children. Following the visit, Helmy reflected on the experience, saying, “By ensuring every child can receive an education, healthcare, clean water and access to spaces where they feel protected and nurtured, UNICEF is giving vulnerable children hope for a better future, one where they can truly fulfill their potential.”

Helmy’s New Role as Regional Ambassador

In his new role as the UNICEF regional ambassador for the Middle East and North Africa, Ahmed Helmy hopes to continue to help children reach their potential. Specifically, he plans to focus on standing up for children’s rights and promoting awareness of early childhood development issues. Helmy’s work with UNICEF is an example of a celebrity harnessing their social influence for good. In his new role, Helmy has the potential to promote even more positive social change for the many children impacted by UNICEF’s work.

– Nina Lehr
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Child Poverty in Egypt
Egypt attracts visitors from all around the world to observe marvelous monuments such as the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx. However, behind the magnificence of its tourist attractions lies a country in distress. It has a rank of 13th in terms of global population, with births occurring every 15 seconds. The growing population is causing a scarcity of resources, leaving nearly 27.8% of Egyptians to live in extreme poverty. Poverty especially poses a threat to the quality of life for Egyptian children by denying them opportunities to be successful. Here are some of the factors contributing to child poverty in Egypt.

Lack of Education

Egypt’s Ministry of Education reported that thousands of children dropped out of school in 2016 and 2017 due to the inability to pay fees for food, transportation and clothing. Roughly 600,000 of the children who dropped out of school in 2017 were girls. In previous decades, Egyptians highly undervalued education for girls due to ideas of traditional gender roles. However, a study in Egypt found that girls usually begin taking on household duties around the age of 10, allowing them more opportunities to attend primary school. The need for children to help bring in extra income causes many poor families to turn to child labor. This makes school attendance even less a priority.

Child Labor

Agriculture makes up nearly 55% of Upper Egypt’s labor force. Additionally, almost 80% of the population in Upper Egypt lives below the poverty line. The Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) reported that 53.2% of children between the ages of 5 and 14 work in Egypt’s agricultural sector. Children provide a cheaper source of labor to help manage family-owned farms. Cairo Hospital’s Dr. Ahmed Fathy explained, “For poorer families, it’s not about whether a child is a gift from God, but rather [that] extra children are a method of income.”

Malnutrition

Malnutrition plays a prominent role in child poverty in Egypt. The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) defines malnutrition as a lack of access to a healthy diet in poverty-stricken communities and a lack of nutritional knowledge that promotes healthy dietary habits and lifestyles. Children under the age of 5 suffer most from undernourishment at 35%. Foods high in sugar account for nearly one-third of an Egyptian infant’s diet. Meanwhile, roughly 50% of children under the age of 2 are not receiving vital nutrients such as iron through their diet.

Social Programs and Government Policies on Child Poverty

From 2014-2018, the European Union (E.U.) invested $65 million to launch the Enhancing Access of Children to Education and Fighting Child Labor social program. The program improved food security for approximately 100,000 Egyptian children. It also provided financial aid to almost 400,000 low-income families, reducing the need for child labor and encouraging school attendance.

The Egyptian government is hopeful that it will eliminate hazardous forms of child labor by 2025. Government officials enacted the National Plan of Action Against the Worst Forms of Child Labor and Supporting Families policy in 2017 to boost child labor laws and develop the educational system. The policy also delegates specific government agencies to enforce existing child labor laws.

Looking Towards the Future

Egyptian children living in poverty endure numerous hardships that affect their quality of life, such as lack of education, child labor and malnutrition. These barriers leave them unprepared to successfully transition to adulthood. The Egyptian government is taking steps to eliminate child poverty by passing laws and implementing programs that prioritize children’s issues. Hopefully, one day, child poverty in Egypt will no longer exist.

Tiara Tyson
Photo: Flickr

Child mortality in EgyptIn 2020, the rate of child mortality in Egypt was about five times lower than the rate in 1990, a crucial improvement that displays the effectiveness of programs addressing the issue. Since 1994, the government and partnering NGOs have made significant efforts to reduce child mortality in Egypt. As a result, the country has surpassed its objectives for Millenium Development Goal 4. There are several reasons for Egypt’s considerable success in improving children’s health.

5 Reasons for Decreased Child Mortality in Egypt

  1. Public health programs. Arguably one of the most significant projects in the fight against child mortality in Egypt is the government’s immunization campaign. With the introduction of the Expanded Program of Immunization (EPI), infants received greater protection against diseases such as polio, tuberculosis and tetanus. More than 90% of children aged 18-29 months were fully immunized in 2014. Additionally, the government established initiatives centering on mothers’ health. The Healthy Mother/Healthy Child Programme from 1993 to 2009 was significant in reducing socioeconomic and regional disparities in child and maternal health facilities and services. The program played a part in the increase of medically assisted deliveries from 38% in 1988 to 80% in 2008.
  2. Government partnerships with NGOs. The resources and support provided by NGOs boosted the success of government programs. The Ministry of Health and Population worked closely with UNICEF as part of the Young Child Survival and Development program to launch initiatives to improve maternal and child mortality by ensuring services in disadvantaged areas to promote health, nutrition and hygiene awareness. The World Bank also financed the Health Quality Improvement Programme, which focused on improving the quality of care in Egypt’s medical facilities located in the most impoverished areas.
  3. Improvements in health sector infrastructure and access. As of 2014, there were 5,000 public primary care facilities and 1,100 public hospitals across Egypt. This, in addition to well-developed roads, means most rural and urban citizens reside within five kilometers of a healthcare center. All these factors mean healthcare is widely accessible. Furthermore, the number of trained medical professionals has increased. Between 1990 and 2012 the number of doctors per 1,000 individuals increased by a factor of 8, according to the World Health Organization. Although regional discrepancies still exist, the Egyptian government continues to establish legislation and programs to improve health.
  4. Health information monitoring and sharing. The collection of data on child mortality rates and general health has allowed the government to monitor progress and implement more informed healthcare strategies. Data has informed previous child and maternal health programs and has contributed greatly to the successes of initiatives. The government has prioritized broadcasting messages through the media to educate people on steps to take to improve maternal and child health.
  5. Government actions and priorities. The government’s commitment to women’s and children’s health has contributed to the decrease in child mortality in Egypt. During the years 1989-1999 and 2000-2010, the health of mothers and children became a principal concern for the Egyptian government. Furthermore, the 1988 creation of the parastatal National Council for Children and Mothers prioritizes the needs of mothers and children and ensures that legislation prioritizes children and women too.

A Better Future

Though socioeconomic inequalities remain, Egypt has made many improvements in children’s health. Through cooperation with NGOs, government health programs and a revitalization of the health sector, child mortality in Egypt has decreased exponentially. With continued efforts to promote maternal and child health, Egypt has laid a strong foundation for continued success.

Sarah Stolar
Photo: Flickr

CARE’s Aid to EgyptDespite the richness of Egypt’s history, the country faces several issues that affect the nation’s people. Among them are education, women’s rights, agricultural development and governance. However, the organization called CARE is working extensively to help resolve these pressing issues in Egypt. CARE’s aid to Egypt provides the necessary support to a struggling population.

Current Issues in Egypt

Egypt’s education system has made a number of improvements. As of 2017, the literacy rate in Egypt among youths was at 94%. Furthermore, the amount of elementary-aged children in Egypt not attending school has decreased to 50%. One particular concern regarding the Egyptian education system, however, is the increasing population in Egypt. The population increase puts strain on the educational system because it leads to overcrowded classrooms, capacity shortages and a greater need for educational funding to support this.

Women’s rights in Egypt is another issue of concern for the country. In 2015, the Global Gender Index gave Egypt a rank of 136 out of 145 countries regarding inequities between men and women of Egypt. This low ranking is evidenced by the fact that women’s participation in the labor force is only 26% in comparison to 79% for men. Furthermore, women’s literacy stands at 65% in comparison to 82% for men.

Agriculture is vitally important to the Egyptian economy. About 11.3% of Egypt’s GDP comes from this sector. Of the entire Egyptian workforce, around 28% of it is employed in the agricultural sector. Upper Egypt relies heavily on agriculture with 55% of the population employed in the sector. The Egyptian agricultural sector struggles due to the use of traditional farming methods that hinder productivity and do not align with international standards.

CARE Addresses Egyptian Education

One of CARE’s focuses regarding Egyptian education is children who live in poverty. CARE works to ensure that children still have access to education despite the economic situation they find themselves in. CARE works to improve education in Egypt by assisting the Egyptian Ministry of Education (MOE). The MOE has what is called Readability Units to help improve literacy among students. CARE works directly with these Readability Units to better improve teaching methods and monitor the progress of both students and teachers.

CARE Supports Women’s Rights

CARE helps to support women’s rights by fighting gender-based violence (GBV) in Egypt. CARE’s women’s rights program helps support efforts to raise awareness about GBV and provide assistance to survivors.

The Safe Cities Free of Violence project has been protecting Egyptian women and girls since 2012 by ensuring GBV-free, safe neighborhoods in specific areas. Through field activities, people are educated on gender-based violence matters. Furthermore, survivors are provided help through four pillars: health access and medical care, safety, legal and psychosocial. During the 2016-2017 period, the GBV program directly benefited more than 16,000 women and girls.

CARE’s aid to Egypt also helps women economically by using the village savings and loan associations (VSLA) strategy. The purpose of the VSLA is to give lower-income people the opportunity to save money and access loans to improve economic stability. This also contributes to ensuring financial inclusion for impoverished people. Since 2009, the VSLA has helped more than 54,000 people, 95% of whom were women.

CARE Helps Agriculture and Governance

CARE recognizes that the traditional agricultural practices in Egypt are not the most beneficial or productive. CARE reaches out to small-scale farmers to teach them more efficient farming techniques to better improve their productivity. Our Children’s Wheat program has provided agricultural training to 172 farmers growing maize. An additional 2039 farmers were trained on growing wheat crops productively.

Furthermore, CARE has long been working toward improving governance in Egypt. Focusing on regional level governance, CARE wants to better improve the way regional governments provide for citizens. CARE also wants these regional governments to be more accountable when it comes to addressing the needs of citizens. It has established governance and social accountability initiatives and practices to ensure improvement in this area.

The Road Ahead

Despite the hardships Egypt faces, the country is receiving significant support from CARE. This support is especially significant in areas where the government lacks the resources to fulfill the needs of its citizens. CARE’s aid in Egypt provides hope to a struggling population for a future that goes beyond simply surviving to fully thriving.

Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr