World Bank's development policies in Egypt inefficient: Study

Karim Hafez , Wednesday 20 Mar 2013

Recent impact assessment by Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) and Bank Information Centre suggest World Bank development policies fail to address 'true needs of Egypt's citizens'

An Egyptian man talks on his mobile phone near the working-class neighborhood of Helwan in Cairo, Egypt (Photo: AP)

A recent joint study by the Bank Information Centre, a Washington-based NGO, and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) described the World Bank's development policies in Egypt as 'inefficient' deeming the international financial agency failed to address the "true needs of Egypt's citizens."

The findings of the study were announced in a press conference on Wednesday at the headquarters of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights in Cairo.

The study entitled "Impact of the World Bank policy and programs on the built environment in Egypt" reviewed the global lender's Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) saying the bank focused on replacing the role of the government with the private sector in urban development projects without addressing the "actual problem."

Most of the urban development projects tailored by the World Bank, such as the Affordable Housing Mortgage Program, targeted middle and lower middle-income groups and left out the majority of the low-income segments, said Yehia Shawkat, the main author of the study, at a press conference in Cairo on Wednesday.

The study further explained that the World Bank's CAS projects were highly centralised in the greater Cairo area, whereas underdeveloped regions like Upper Egypt were completely ignored.

"The lack of true representation and consultation of stakeholders was one of the main reasons the World Bank's CAS policy failed as participation was limited to the central government and private sector affiliates," explained Shawkat.

The World Bank relied solely on policy papers produced by the former-ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) that "lacked depth" and even World Bank officials themselves considered as "counterproductive," according to the study.

However, speaking from the floor at the event, World Bank representative in Egypt, Maged Hamed, questioned the results of the study.

"Although the study was useful in terms of effectiveness assessment, it failed to take into consideration the policy shifts regarding sustainable development in Egypt, Hamed argued.

The new study ignored several projects which have made a major positive impact according to civil society organisations in Egypt, Hamed said.

The World Bank's development current investment portfolio in Egypt is almost $3.945 billion, with almost 81 percent directed towards urban development projects.

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