Egypt is the third most populous country in Africa, with 99. 2 million people (CAPMAS 2019) concentrated in a ribbon stretching 1,000 km from north to south along the Nile Valley. An uprising in 2011 was followed by political instability, and more recently some economic liberalization and pro-poor initiatives.
The present government, sworn-in in 2014, initiated a series of reforms to spur the economy Egypt’s economic growth has been healthy, averaging 5.3 percent in FY2017/18, driven by an expansion in the gas extractives, tourism, manufacturing, construction and ICT sectors.
Agriculture is a key sector in the Egyptian economy, providing livelihoods for 57 per cent of the population and directly employing about 26 per cent of the labour force. Though its share of gross domestic product (GDP) has fallen to about 11 per cent, farming is a vital source of exports and foreign exchange accounting for 20 per cent of export revenue.
Yet the unemployment rate reached 11.4 per cent in 2018, while youth unemployment increased to 32.5 per cent compared to 24.4 per cent in 2010. Poverty has fallen from 40.5 per cent in 2004 to 28 per cent in 2015, before rising to 32.5 per cent in 2019 (CAPMAS) and remains a major challenge, especially in rural Upper Egypt, where poverty rates are more than 60 per cent.
Attempts to alleviate poverty must involve women and youth and reflect the diversity of income sources. In 2015, the Ministry of Social Solidarity (MoSS) launched the “Takaful and Karama” (solidarity and dignity) scheme targeting the poor and most vulnerable, children under 18 years, elderly poor above 65 years and disabled persons. The scheme transfers cash to the eligible families to subsidize costs of children's education, mothers and children health care, healthy nutrition and family planning.
In Egypt, IFAD loans support settlement of land reclaimed from the desert in Lower (Northern) Egypt and support for productivity improvements in the old lands in the Nile valley and Upper Egypt.
Our Country Strategic Opportunities Programme (COSOP) in the country contributes to the reduction of rural poverty and the enhancement of national food security.
In its efforts to help reduce poverty, IFAD seeks to enable more sustainable use of natural resources; promote climate-smart strategies; and leverage opportunities provided by the expanding private sector involvement in agriculture.
Key activities include:
- strengthening the technical skills and organizational capacity of poor rural men and women to take advantage of rural on- and off-farm economic opportunities;
- enhancing pro-poor sustainable use of natural resources, especially land and water; and
- improving the access of poor rural farmers to better quality services, for example to technology, finance and markets.
In addition to projects and programmes, Egypt has also benefited from a number of regional grants focused on soil and water management, taking gender into account in public policy development, building knowledge-sharing networks, and promotion of microfinance for poor rural people.
Agriculture sector is a key sector in the Egyptian economy, providing livelihoods for 57 per cent of the population and directly employing about 26 per cent of the labour force.
Egypt is IFAD’s largest recipient of financial assistance in the Near East and North Africa, and was one of the first countries in the world to receive IFAD financing.