No more poverty bites: How Egypt’s ‘Haya Karima’ achieves unprecedented development in countryside



Tue, 29 Jun 2021 - 02:12 GMT


Tue, 29 Jun 2021 - 02:12 GMT

How Egypt’s ‘Haya Karima’ achieves unprecedented development in countryside

How Egypt’s ‘Haya Karima’ achieves unprecedented development in countryside

CAIRO – 23 June 2021: Egypt’s poorest areas have always been on the government’s radar, where citizens suffer under inadequate medical, educational and social services.


The percentage of people living below the poverty line in Egypt was 25.2 percent in the fiscal year 2010/2011, and increased to 26.3 percent in 2012/2013. It rose again in 2015, reaching 27.8 percent and then largely increased by 4.7 percent reaching 32.5 percent in 2017/2018. 


Thus, eliminating poverty in Egypt became an emergency that required a special and unique approach.


On January 2, 2019, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi launched an initiative aiming to improve the standards of life for the neediest community groups across the state, and raise the level of effeciency of the daily services in villages.


Called “Haya Karima” or “Decent Life,” the initiative targets the development of Egypt’s countryside in three years.




The initiative witnesses a unique collaboration between ministries, private sector and the civil society to achieve its objective.


The data showed that the villages, which are largely concentrated in Giza, Minya, Assiut, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, Aswan, El Wadi El Gedeed, Qalyubia, Beheira, Marsa Matrouh, and North Sinai, all have a poverty rate of 70 percent or more.


Reports also indicated that the urban frontier governorates witnessed the lowest poverty rate, while rural Upper Egypt governorates showed the highest poverty rate.


Accordingly, the initiative has set four pillars:

Improving living-standards and investing in human capital.

Developing infrastructure services.

Raising the quality of human development services.

Economic development.


Unprecedented developmental efforts


“Egypt is the only country in the world that has achieved a positive growth rate during the coronavirus  crisis, with the private sector being an essential partner in the development process,” said Minister of Planning and Economic Development Hala Al-Saeed as she referred to “Haya Karima” initiative. 


In February, the United Nations has praised Egypt’s “Decent Life” initiative that has contributed to mitigating the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic through improving the standard of living of the neediest groups.




In a report, the UN said the initative has also provided job opportunities through supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).


It added the goals of the initiative are to be achieved through providing decent housing, water and sanitation, as well as medical and educational services for deprived families, establishing micro-projects and providing in-kind support periodically for those most in need.


In 2020, Haya Karima or “Decent Life” was announced as a non-profit organization to implement the objectives of the initiative through the cooperation of three main ministries (Local Development, Social Solidarity,and Planning), in addition to the participation of 16 civil society organizations.


What does the initiative do?


1-  It provides a decent life for the neediest groups.

2-  Provides orphaned ladies with equipment and essentials for marriage.

3-  Upgrades level of services provided daily to citizens.

4-  Provides medical and surgical services.

5-  Installs water-saving pieces in mosques.

6-  Provides job opportunities at small and medium enterprises.

7-  Restores old schools and builds new ones.

8-  Builds roofs and raises efficiency of homes.

9-  Lays water and sewage connections.

10-               Provides blankets and furnishings.

11-               Launches medical convoys for health services.

12-               Works to collect qnd recycle garbage.

13-               Launches childhood development programs.



Targeted groups


1-  Poorest families.

2-  Orphans, female breadwinners and children.

3-  Unemployed youths.

4-  Persons with disabilities.


Selecting needy villages


A study by the Egyptian Center for Strategic Studies has revealed the basis on which villages are selected to be part of Haya Karima initiative:


1- Low level of infrastructure, including lighting, paved streets, electricity, drinking water, and sanitation


2- Poor government services, such as schools, youth centers, and health units


3- High rates of unemployment


4- High rates of illiteracy 


5- Low indicators of healthcare 


6- Low share of the state budget in the past 10 years


7- Availability of land on which projects can be established 



Initiative’s phases


The initiative is divided into three geographical phases, according to the percentage of need across villages:




The first phase includes villages with poverty rates of 70 percent or more, which need urgent intervention.


The second phase includes the villages with poverty rates between 50-70 percent.


And the third phase of the initiative includes the villages with poverty rate less than 50 percent. 


The initiative is planned to be implemented on two phases:


The first phase (2019-2020), covering 372 villages in 67 centers at 14 governorates, with a population of 4.46 million people. The second phase (2021-2023), covering 1,371 villages in 2021 and about 3,299 villages in the following two years 2022 and 2023, with a total of 4,670 villages in 175 centers and 20 governorates to serve around 57 percent of the population by the end of the initiative.


Egypt’s sustainable development plan for the fiscal year 2021-2022 has allocated L.E. 200 billion for the social initiative “Haya Karima,” and the plan was approved by the Parliament.


The plan identified 20 governorates will be benefiting from the initiative with a total number of 1,367 villages and 17 million and 600,000 citizens.




The L.E. 200-billion budget allocated for the initiative will be invested in health (L.E. 27.5 billion), education (L.E. 4.4 billion), electricity (L.E. 20 billion), sanitation and drinking water (L.E. 102 billion) and paving roads (L.E. 12.2 billion).


According to Minister of Planning Hala Al-Saeed, the 2021/22 plan targets to establish 10,828 classrooms, develop 782 youth centers and playgrounds, establish and develop 317 governmental service buildings, rehabilitate and line 2,670 km of canals, develop 1,250 health care units, provide 389 ambulances and 510 mobile clinics, establish and develop 112 veterinary units and establish 191 agricultural service centers.  


Considered the largest of Egypt’s national projects, Haya Karima Initiative’s budget exceeds L.E. 700 billion. “Without this initiative, we would have not achieved this development in less than 15-20 years,” Minister El-Saeed said in previous statements.


Empowering women


The initiative targets as part of its developmental plan to empower and support female breadwinners.




It aims to train rural women leaders on project management, digital literacy and financial inclusion, encourage the return of handicrafts, expand reproductive health clinics, enroll girls in training courses to start their own projects, and establish projects for breadwinners, widows and divorced women.  


Actual change


Haya Karima has reached several remote villages in Upper Egypt, to fulfill citizens' hope for a decent life. Below are some examples of the initiative’s achievements: 


In Sohag, it renewed water networks in 33 villages at a cost of L.E. 356 million, developed old stations at a cost of L.E. 183 million, and established new stations at a cost of L.E. 219 million.


It also reached villages of Aswan city, aiming to improve drinking water and sanitation services after years of neglect.




A total of 31 main villages and 114 sub-villages in the center of Edfu, Kom Ombo and Nasr el-Nuba are listed as part of the targeted areas of the initiative in Aswan. A total of L.E. 120 million will be dedicated to rehabilitate and provide youth centers in the villages.


The initiative is preparing to replace, renew and develop a number of bridges, establish 1,388 roads and build 162 new youth centers.


In the field of communications, the initiative executes a number of projects to connect homes with fiber-optic cables, develop all postal centers and provide them with mobile towers, in addition to implementing service buildings that provide social solidarity services.



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