A still photo of Egyptian Planning Minister Hala El-Said, among other speakers, attending a session titled Developmental Initiatives Confronting Poverty during the third day of the World Youth Forum (WYF) in Sharm El-Sheikh on Wednesday
During a session titled ‘Developmental Initiatives Confronting Poverty’, El-Said highlighted Egypt’s initiatives to face the pandemic’s heavy economic repercussions and its poverty-focused Decent Life Initiative.
Decent Life — meaning Hayah Karima in Arabic — comprises a series of countryside-focused national infrastructure projects.
It was first initiated in 2019 by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, who tasked the Ministry of Social Solidarity with developing Egypt’s poorest 1,000 villages.
Speaking during the panel, Elena Panova, the United Nations’ resident coordinator in Egypt, said that the coronavirus pandemic was not only a health crisis, but turned into a developmental issue.
She described the pandemic as a twin-crisis for poor people, which are more susceptible to infections and have less access to healthcare.
Panova added the pandemic has increased poverty globally by half a billion people.
Furthermore, she said that Egypt has focused on the principle of the right to development, which is one of the goals of sustainable development that UN member states have committed to in order to end poverty.
Localising sustainable development goals has been reflected through Egypt’s Decent Life initiative, she said, adding that the local initiative is a great example of alleviating poverty and inequality and increasing the UN’s partnership with the government to ensure success.
Decent life initiative
In December 2020, El-Sisi expanded the initiative to include all the villages of Egypt’s countryside within the framework of the Sustainable Development Strategy: Egypt’s 2030 Vision.
The initiative aims to improve the standards of living, infrastructure, and services, and targets 60 percent of Egypt’s 102-million population, who live in 4,658 villages across the country.
The initiative aims to establish infrastructure, including networks for clean water, sewage, electricity, gas, and communications. It also includes awareness and training programmes for citizens in rural areas and will provide village-based jobs that empower inhabitants, including female-headed households, and funding for micro and medium-sized projects.
According to the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS), 29.7 percent of the population — 30 million citizens — were below the poverty line in FY2019/20.
El-Said said around $50 million in investments have been pumped into the initiative.
She also said that the state has backed all sectors during the pandemic, adding that safeguarding citizens’ health has been the state’s focus during the pandemic.
Furthermore, she said that six million citizens have received the EGP 500 ($32) monthly allowance to irregular workers and another presidential aid to those affected by the repercussions of the coronavirus.
The Egyptian government has been giving irregular workers a monthly financial stipend in 2020 to help them cope with the economic impact of the pandemic that hit the country in mid-February of 2020.
COVID-19 is considered the largest economic crisis globally in the modern era, she said, adding that the pandemic has exacted a heavy toll on humanity and affected all aspects of the economy.
Moreover, it has heavily affected trade movement globally by around 40 to 70 percent and led to a drop in investments and turmoil in the labour market and education sector.