EOHR issues a qualitative report entitled “Egypt between Poverty and Mirage of Development”

September 15th, 2009 by Editor

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights( EOHR) issued its qualitative report entitled “Egypt between Poverty and Mirage of Development” on Tuesday 15/9/2009 within EOHR’s interests with the system of economic and social rights and in conjunction with the intervention of EOHR and Cairo Institute For Human Rights Studies under the title of” Poverty is a violation for human dignity” before the  12th session of human rights council during the period from 14/9/2009 to 2/10/2009. This report comes within the confirmation of the world Bank report which stated that more than half of all developing countries suffer from high numbers of extremely poor people in 2009. This percentage is still the highest among low-income countries – Egypt – and poor countries in Africa.  


The report sheds light upon poverty, its indicators and  causes, the status of poverty in Egypt and the impacts of poverty on the system of economic and social development, leading to a national plan to combat poverty.



The report uncovered a number of basic facts, as follows:

– Poverty is considered a fundamental issue of human rights, although the term is not explicitly stated in the international Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, but poverty is one of the recurring topics in the Covenant. Also eliminating extreme poverty and hunger come in the first development goals for the Millennium.


– Despite the disparity in defining the concept of poverty and its standards, the low income for individual or family is the backbone of it. According to the World Bank, Egypt is categorized as one of the low-income countries, whereas  Egypt ranks fifth level  on the Middle East area  and sixty two level globally according to the guide of social policy issued by the United Nations in January 2009.

– There are two indicators to measure poverty: the first is: absolute poverty: which is known as a situation in which individual can not, through his income, satisfy the basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, education and health.


The second: extreme poverty: which is known as a situation which individual can not -through his income- access to food to satisfy the need of a certain number of calories which would enable him to survive and continue his life with specific limits. The report revealed that Egypt gathered the two indicators, unless it is closer to extreme poverty.

– The main reason of the spread of poverty lies in the  economic inequality among individuals, Namely: disparity in the distribution of wealth and incomes. In view of
Egypt‘s  status , we find that the poverty rate has exceeded every limit  to the extent that most of Egyptian people live below the poverty line due to the following:


– The current economic policies which do not depend on the principle of justice in the distribution of wealth, which led to the spread of poverty and the increasing of inflation rates.


– The adverse effects on the results of privatization starting from the problem of the exchange rate and progressive decline of the Egyptian pound against the dollar and other foreign currencies, through the continued decrease of domestic savings rate and the increase of deficit steadily, the increase of domestic debt to astronomical numbers which threat the national economy, ending with high prices for main commodities.


Statistics and figures of poverty rates  in
Egypt are conflict , as reports of the Ministry of Economic Development confirmed that population rate under the poverty line went back from 24% in 1990 to 19%in 2005, it is expected that the rate will reach 12% by the year 2015. the Minister of Economic Development has revealed that the poverty rate in Egypt declines to 16% of the total population according to the results of income and expenditure which was conducted during February 2009. Also he declared that more than 12% of those who were poor in 2005 went beyond the poverty line. The report of Arab Human Development 2009 stated that poverty rates in Egypt reach 41% of the total of population. As for the  world bank, reports have revealed that the rate of poverty in Egypt registered in 2008 is double the rates in similar countries in the Middle East and reached more than 25% of the total population whose income stands at less than two dollars a day.         


– Poverty has a bad effects on the system of economic and social development in Egypt, as it is considered  a negative aspect that leads to the escalation of the circumstances. The health situation in Egypt suffers from continuing deterioration .According to the report of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) issued in 2009, nearly half of Egyptian families suffer from malnutrition due to a low level of income for families.



Among the other consequences of poverty, we find the phenomenon of early marriage for minors in childhood from  men older than them in most cases to escape from  poverty in society.


As for education: The latest statistics report of Central Agency For Public Mobilization And Statistics issued in 2006 indicated that the number of dropouts from basic education is  between the ages of 6 to 18 years at the rate of 4.24%, while the estimated proportion of people who are not enrolled in primary education originally is 10.41%. The major part of these numbers is concentrated in Upper Egypt and rural areas where residents are suffering from extreme poverty.



As for employment, a study prepared by the German Bloomberg Agency for news in 2009 indicated that Egypt ranked the fifty seven position among sixty states in a study that includes rates of inflation , consumption, unemployment and the deterioration of wages.


The impacts of poverty is not only confine to the economic side, but its effects extended to include social side as well as the increasing of poverty in the Egyptian society led to the spread of shanty towns which impede the development of society . 


EOHR  concluded at the end of its report that poverty is a form of exclusion and marginalization that affects the dignity of human, and then it is considered a violation to  fundamental human rights including the right to work and suitable income and decent living, social security, health, education, water, etc.. as they are considered an essential economic and social rights. So EOHR called the government for preparing a plan or national strategy that include a number of measures to limit this dangerous phenomenon which is one of the most important challenges facing the development process in


The main goal of this strategy is represented in the rehabilitation of poor people to be able to contribute in the development of society,  rather than be mere consumers of money and social aids. This strategy takes into account the lessons learned from the experiences of other countries that have achieved results rapidly in the area of reducing poverty.


The long-term goals are as follows :
A – Reducing  the proportion of Egyptians who live below the poverty line to 15% in 2010 and to 10% in 2015.

B – Achieving social development goals set on the basis of recommendations of the various world summits before 2015.


The major aspects of the strategy:

The strategy to combat poverty is basically depends on several main aspects combine with each other in order to achieve specific goals,  represented as follows:

 I- Accelerate the method of economic growth as a basis for reducing poverty and  improving the competitiveness of the economy and the reduction of the subordination for external factors. This aspect will contribute to reduce poverty in two ways:


First: Through the direct and indirect impacts to create job opportunities.


Second: Through its positive reflection on the budget of the state to support such sectors which serve poor people in a direct way. The Chinese experience can be followed  in this regard. 


II- The aim of this aspect is to develop human resources and to go ahead to the basic infrastructure. This aspect will have the greatest impact on poverty in the long run, through its  reflection on the productivity of poor people and improve their circumstances. Charitable funds could be activated to combat poverty and businessmen  and private sector shall  be involved in this regard.

 III- Restructuring the system of wages in Egypt to conform with the minimum limit which provides a decent life for the Egyptian citizen and meet all his basic needs and to activate the role of National Council for wages in this regard.

 IV-Paying  more attention to economic and social rights, and there are several fields and sectors that have  priority for the strategic framework to combat poverty represented in reforming health sector, housing, education and water as follows:


-Strengthening and modernizing the governmental institutions concerned with providing health care for citizens quantitatively and qualitatively and to force

officials to apply such  decisions related to treatment at the expense of the state and for treatment abroad , activating the health insurance system to cover all citizens and to counter corruption inside its sectors, setting a new system to treat low income citizens and vulnerable groups in the society. Also it is necessary to set a national program to teach and train doctors to enhance their scientific level in accordance with the huge development in the medical technology.


– Reforming all elements of education process (students, teachers, scientific subjects, curriculum and teaching methods, management and the surrounding environment).


– Solving the housing problem as considered one  of the basic needs which international  covenants and constitutions stated the necessary of providing it to citizens. The government has to review its housing policy through empowering low income citizens and the poor to enjoy with the right to adequate housing which meets the standards of healthy housing , privacy and safety.

– Set a national plan involving the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources and the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of Local Development and the Ministry of Information to resolve the water problem.

V- Commitment to achieve  the Millennium Development Goals, determined  by the General Assembly of the United Nations in September 2000 including poverty and to develop plans and strategies consistent with achieving these goals by the year 2015.
– Commitment to the provisions of international conventions, in particular the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Millennium Declaration.
Final aspect: At the political level
– Prompting  competencies , legislative, judicial, administrative and financial institutions in a common effort to contribute to combat  corruption through the diagnosis and study of its types, causes and consequences.

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