Egypt’s Social Solidarity Ministry, EU, and UNDP sign €6 mn agreement to boost social safety nets amid pandemic

Egypt’s Ministry of Social Solidarity (MoSS) signed on Thursday an agreement with the European Union (EU) and the UN Development Program (UNDP) will launch a program aimed at supporting the country’s COVID-19 response.

The agreement guarantees the funding of €6 million over three years for Egypt’s social programs.

MoSS hosted the signing ceremony, whose attendees included Head of EU Delegation to Egypt, Ambassador Christian Berger, UNDP Resident Representative, Randa Aboul-Hosn, and Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for International Cooperation and Development, Dina Safwat.

The new partnership aims to work on two levels of Egypt’s pandemic response in order to reduce virus’s impact on the country’s most vulnerable groups.

The first step is concerned with reducing infection rates among poorer families targeted by MoSS who might not be able to leave work despite an illness.

The second level will work on addressing the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic and includes the expansion of social safety nets and the creation of dynamic work opportunities for vulnerable families.

The project will raise awareness of Egypt’s already present Takaful and Karama programs, which provide cash to households experiencing poverty.

The project will also support MoSS by upgrading its infrastructure and digitizing many of its operations, which will allow the ministry to better identify and assist a wider range of vulnerable groups, such as Persons with Disabilities or less-privileged and educated families.

Lastly, it will support the enhancement of vulnerable groups’ socio-economic statuses by providing support to 168 elderly care institutions and seven homeless shelters for the elderly, supervised by MoSS.

Egypt’s Minister of Social Solidarity Nivine El-Kabbag explained that the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic pushed many Egyptians living on the borderline of poverty into the ministry’s definition of poverty, prompting the ministry to expand its social safety nets and family support systems to support a growing number of people.

The minister saluted the hard work of the Egyptian government and social service organizations in the country since the onset of the pandemic and expressed her excitement to partner with the EU to further develop the country’s social safety nets.

Ambassador Berger also expressed his optimism about the partnership, stating, “I believe we will win the fight [against COVID-19] through close cooperation between partners, between countries and regions.”

“With today’s signature we are demonstrating how the EU-EG partnership is delivering for the benefit of people. In one word: solidarity and close cooperation, especially during challenging times,” he added.

UNDP Egypt Resident Representative Randa Aboul-Hosn emphasized the timeliness and significance of investing in innovation and digital development as immediate solutions to combat COVID-19’s socio-economic implications.

She confirmed that several countries have invested in digital transformation to protect their economies and people since the beginning of the pandemic.

On behalf of Egypt’s International Cooperation Minister Rania El Mashat, Assistant Minister Dina Safwat praised the EU and UNDP’s efforts to increase development and address the impacts of the virus, indicating that there has been a significant slowdown in development since the onset of the pandemic.

She added that an agreement between Egypt and the World Bank was signed last year to make US$500 million available to strengthen Egypt’s social protection network by increasing the number of beneficiaries of the Takaful and Karama programs, as well as US$477 million for health care and health insurance programs.

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