Mon, 05 Jul 2021 - 11:00 GMT
The Egyptian countryside- CC via Wikimedia
CAIRO - 30 June 2021: After being neglected for decades, and despite being inhabited by half the population, the Egyptian countryside started to witness unprecedented development in a record time under President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’ leadership.
For several decades, the majority of inhabitants were living in conditions not so different from those of the medieval ages, as it was shown in a study conducted in 2015 by Egyptian Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).
As of 2021, the number of Egyptian villages reached 4,740 followed by 30,000 smaller areas, housing 57 percent of the population of Egypt. But, the 2015 study showed that residents of 4,655 villages nationwide lacked good education, sanitation services, and had no public transportations. Also, 82 percent of the villages had no high schools, while 74.3 percent of the villages did not have sanitation and half of the 21 percent of villages that have connected sewage networks to most homes suffered from blockage.
According to the CAPMAS study, 63 percent of the residents of the villages depended on private minibuses to travel to the centers, while 25 percent depended on pick-up trucks for the same purpose and the remaining 3.5 percent used tuk-tuks and buses belonging to the local unit or the public transport authority in the governorates. The government contributed 1.4 percent in transportation, and 0.7 percent in railroad.
Moreover, the villages suffered from a lack of means of communication, as 49 percent of Egyptian villages had no post offices, and 75 percent did not have a government central communication headquarters.
Although, 97.5 percent of the Egyptian villages are connected to the electricity network, according to the 2015 survey, the electricity was cut off on a daily basis in 22 percent of these villages, was cut off every two days in 38 percent of them, and every three days in 23 percent of the villages.
That is why the development process of the lives of villagers was launched on February 1, 2015, when Engineering Authority of the Armed Forces was contracted to create infrastructure projects in the 78 villages of the first phase, at a total cost of LE 1.075 billion.
‘Decent Life for the Villagers’
With the aim of providing a decent life for half of the population, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi launched on January 2, 2019, the National Project for the Development of Egyptian Villages as part of “Haya Karema [Decent Life] initiative” to develop the neediest villages within a time frame of 3 years. This project unified the efforts of both the government and civil society to raise the life standard and living conditions of the villages.
This initiative targets improving the life standard of citizens in 175 towns and 4209 villages, with a total budget of LE 515 billion allocated for the project when first announced.
The first phase of the initiative began in July 2019 with developing 375 villages considered to be among the poorest in 14 different governorates across the country. The services provided to the villages were in the sectors of health, education, drinking water, electricity and gas, roads and transportation, along with sports and environmental services.
Up to 4.46 million people benefited from Hayaa Karema in its first phase, with LE 13.5 billion worth of projects and services. Up to 600 national projects were implemented in this phase, and 1,580 are expected to be completed by the end of 2021, according to the Egyptian Presidency’s data.
A total of 23 NGOs participated in developing the life standards of several families spotted living in sever poverty, under the supervision of the Ministry of Social Solidarity. Up to 52,000 social interventions and aid were needed as part of the initiative’s developing strategy.
On December 28, 2020, Sisi announced launching the second phase of Hayaa Karema to include another 1376 villages in 20 governorates with a total of LE 150 billion in investments and 18 million beneficiaries.
Some 20 different authorities and Ministries in Egypt are participating in the national initiative with efforts and data. Also, 23 NGOs and hundreds of volunteers are taking significant part in all of the projects and stages of the initiative.
Last February, The United Nations praised Egypt’s “Decent Life” initiative for contributing in mitigating the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic through improving the standards of living conditions of the neediest groups.
In a report, the UN said the initiative 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 for deprived families, and medical and educational services, establishing micro-projects for those most in need and providing in-kind support periodically to most in need families.