Cairo is a city of history and architecture, but the city is also struggling with extreme poverty.
Over 40 percent of Egyptians are living below the poverty line, according to the World Bank, and as war and conflict spread through the area, that number is expected to increase. Poverty in Cairo has forced many families to put off marriage and children, or to put their young children straight to work. Many are stuck in Cairo because they simply can’t afford to live anywhere else or climb the economic ladder.
The unstable government has also contributed to the increase in poverty, but many Egyptians hope to see an established government body in the near future that offers democracy to the public.
According to the Department of Developmental Studies, or DDS, the poverty in Cairo is severely underestimated. In an essay by Sarah Sabry of the DDS, she writes that the “poverty lines are set too low in relation to the costs of the most basic of needs in the city and because census data…under-count the people living in Cairo.”
Like many countries suffering from increasing poverty, the children of the region seem to be hit the hardest. Most children do not have a well-balanced diet, which leads to growth and educational problems in the future. Many children do not attend school or educational programs either because their parents cannot afford it or the children are sent to work during the day.
Greater Cairo has eight informal settlements, and all eight have a large population living below the established poverty line. Education is poor, malnutrition rates are high and health conditions are often unsanitary. Poverty-stricken areas, known as slums, are becoming overcrowded, which causes diseases to easily spread, particularly among young or weak children.
Egypt relies heavily on tourism, which brought in approximately $13 billion in 2010. However, an impoverished Cairo is seeing less tourism and, in turn, less profit.
The future is unpredictable for the Land of the Pharaohs.
– Alaina Grote