Poverty in Egypt is on the rise. Even before the events of 2011, the 2008 international economic slowdown dramatically decreased the growth and employment rates in Egypt. Soaring food prices from inflation worsened the situation, and growing disparities between rural and urban populations proved as much a cause for concern as steadily climbing poverty rates.
Poverty Growth in Egypt
Once at 9.5 percent before 2011, Egypt’s unemployment rate increased to 13.4 percent in the first quarter of 2014. Due to the current situation of the nation, revenue from tourism and remittance income have sharply decreased. Almost 300,000 Egyptian workers returned home due to turmoil in Libya and other parts of the region.
Egypt’s child poverty rates have also severely increased in recent years. Approximately 16.7 million children live below the poverty line. In addition, three-quarters of those children live in extreme poverty in rural areas.
Meanwhile, the economic downturn of Egypt affects more than just children. About half of the Egyptian population lives in poverty, and a quarter in extreme poverty.
Egyptian Energy Crisis
Currently, fixing the rising energy crisis of Egypt could drastically improve the nation’s poverty levels. In 2012, the estimated population of 81 million possessed a gross national income (GNI) of US $2,980 per capita.
Egypt’s GNI per capita increased by about 141 percent between 1980 and 2012, which caused a country-wide struggle to keep up with such high demand.
The GNI increase predominantly stems from the world’s energy demand. As of now, Egyptian energy demand rests at approximately 20 percent more than the country can handle, and Egyptians face the consequences of this inequality. In addition, numerous blackouts and fuel shortages also struck the nation in 2015.
More often than not, foreigners dominate the demand for Egyptian energy. In the past, former dictator Hosni Mubarak notoriously exported parts of Egypt’s own natural gas reserves at extremely low prices. Conducive for business but not for the economy, such a deal hindered rather than helped Egypt.
The country still possesses untapped gas fields traditionally mined by foreign companies, but foreign firms prove reluctant to extract more until the Egyptian government reimburses their overdue debts.
Assistance from Around the World
Thankfully, the collaboration of organizations across the globe can help Egypt combat their current situation.
The General Organization for Physical Planning (GOPP), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) recently signed the “Strengthening Development, Planning and Management in Greater Cairo” project document in a ceremony held on the GOPP premises.
This initiative supports Egypt’s move towards promoting social justice, economic competitiveness (in a healthy market) and the overall improved provision of sustainable, public services.
The project plans to create and implement solutions for Greater Cairo in infrastructure, traffic, the environment and public utilities. These plans would establish a region that meets the needs of all its 21st-century individuals.
Poverty in Egypt is far from fixed. The government and humanitarian organizations must work to reduce poverty in Egypt and create a peaceful and prosperous nation.
With thousands of individuals in both urban and rural Egypt affected, the widespread pandemic of poverty is an urgent issue that the nation should address before more chaos ensues.
– Veronica Ung-Kono