US caves in to Egyptian govt demands over aid disbursement

Abdel Aziz Hegazi, president of the General Federation of NGOs, said on Monday that he reached an agreement with the American Embassy in Cairo to organize the American funding for NGOs in a way that corresponds with Egypt’s priorities.

He said that he will refer the task of distributing funds to the Ministry of International Cooperation, in cooperation with the union, to ensure the transfer of funds to their designated recipients.

Hegazi added that the American aid, despite its large size, only aids a small number of groups in a limited number of fields, in accordance with the priorities of the awarding country and not the recipient country. That reality, he said, pushed him to consult with the ambassador with regards to the agreement.

He clarified, “It’s unreasonable to only subsidize human rights with US$40 million, and we have much bigger problems than that.”

Sharif Ghanim, president of the Egyptian NGO Support Center, described the new arrangement as opening a new door to corruption, bribes, and control over distributing funds because Ministry of International Cooperation employees will assume the task. He demanded that the matter be put in the hands of specialists.

Ghanim added that responsibility for amending the funding policies should lie with the two sides, both USAID and Ministry of Social Solidarity, and charged the ministry with incredible stubbornness, saying its beaurocracy sometimes pushes groups to tap into the aid in an illegal way.

Ayman Abdel Wahab, president of the program for studying civil society at the Al-Ahram center for Political and Strategic Studies, said that changing who administers the aid is not a solution to the problem of USAID in Egypt. He said that the problem presented by the funder’s agenda cannot be solved by simply changing staff.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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