About the Situation
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 Helped
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. All projects have since been completed.
Here’s a breakdown of some programs Islamic Relief help support in Egypt:
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, helped bring access to screening, to treatment and to prevention knowledge surrounding the disease to people around the country. This program contributed to the National Campaign Against Hepatitis C via a combination of education, prevention, screening and treatment activities. More than 930 people have been tested through this effort; more than 1,200 people participated in community awareness programs; and some 100 Hepatitis C patients underwent treatment.
COMPREHENSIVE VOCATIONAL TRAINING AND EMPLOYMENT
More than 134 people, 75% of whom were women, were trained in a clothes-making program aimed to improve their socio-economic conditions by providing them with vocational training. Participants also included impoverished youth and people with special needs. The training was done at a vocational training center in Cairo. An employment support services component helped participants link to hiring companies and find job opportunities.
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.
ORPHAN SUPPORT & SPONSORSHIP
RAMADAN FOOD DISTRIBUTION<
Reports from the Field
Here are several blog posts that chronicle IRUSA team members’ visit to Egypt during the summer of 2011: