About the Situation
By the Numbers
More than 84 million people live in Egypt
1 in 4 Egyptians lives in poverty. Nearly another 1 in 4 lives just above the poverty line.
More than 12% of Egypt’s population is unemployed
(Sources: United Nations, World Food Program and World Bank)
In the shadows of Egypt’s ancient cultural riches lurk scenes of deep poverty. One-quarter of Egyptians lives below the national poverty line, and almost another quarter hovers just above, on the edge of poverty.
These rates have risen in recent years, exacerbated by factors ranging from the avian flu epidemic in 2006 to global food price increases to the recent political instability. Seventeen percent of Egyptians were living in hunger in 2011, according to the World Food Program—up from 14% two years earlier. Jobs are hard to find: More than 12% of the population is unemployed, including the vast majority of young adults. From 2009 to 2011, twice as many people moved into poverty as moved out of it.
For many struggling families, lack of education makes it difficult to break the cycle of poverty. More than one-quarter of young adults have not completed basic education, and many school are ill-equipped to provide a quality education. In 2013, the World Economic Forum ranked Egypt’s school system last out of 148 countries.
How Islamic Relief is Helping
Islamic Relief™ started working in Egypt in 2001, helping generate income for impoverished families and assisting disabled persons, particularly children. After political unrest in early 2011 led to an increase in poverty and unemployment in Egypt, Islamic Relief expanded its programs to serve more people.
Here’s a breakdown of some programs Islamic Relief has supported in Egypt:
COMPREHENSIVE VOCATIONAL TRAINING AND EMPLOYMENT
Some 1,200 people, including impoverished youth, women, and people with disabilities, are participating in a program that aims to improve their socio-economic conditions by providing them with vocational training in industries including woodworks and carpentry, handicrafts, welding, and upholstery. The training will be done at three vocational training centers in Cairo, Alexandria and Port Said. An employment support services component will help participants link to hiring companies and find job opportunities.
HEPATITIS C PROJECT
Egypt has the highest rate of chronic Hepatitis C in the world—15%. And its treatment is often too expensive for many to afford. Islamic Relief USA donors, through the assistance of local NGO, Wahed Min El Nas, are helping bring access to screening, to treatment and to prevention knowledge surrounding the disease to people around the country.
RAMADAN FOOD DISTRIBUTION
EARLY INTERVENTION AND REHABILITATION CENTER (ERIC)
The center in Helwan provided rehabilitation services to disabled children; counseling and support for family members; and training for local professionals in related fields. Some 800 children, 2,000 family members and 500 trainees benefited.
FOOD DISTRIBUTION PROGRAM
Two thousand deeply impoverished families in Helwan, Ayyat and Minya received 30-pound food packages, each of which could feed a family of five for two months. The packages included rice, macaroni, beans, cooking oil, sugar and canned meat, and the project benefited 12,000 individuals.
In 2011, Islamic Relief delivered emergency aid to help provide food aid and medical care to those in most-dire need of assistance amid political turmoil that lead to an economic stand-still throughout the country.
HEALTH SERVICES IN RURAL METOBAS DISTRICT
Islamic Relief equipped and furnished specialized clinics in the Central Hospital of Metobas to ensure access to health care for 180,000 impoverished Egyptians in the Metobas district, and surrounding villages of Kafr Al Sheikh.
Reports from the Field
Here are several blog posts that chronicle IRUSA team members’ visit to Egypt during the summer of 2011:
- “IRUSA Team Bids Farewell To ‘Umm Al-Dunia’”
- “IRUSA Team Visits El-Minya, Egypt”
- “IRUSA team: In Helwan”
- “Hope and Help in Egypt”