Monday, February 22, 2010

Child Poverty and Disparities Study in Egypt Launched

The study Child Poverty and Disparities in Egypt: Building the Social Infrastructure for Egypt’s Future, the first comprehensive study in Egypt which focuses on both poverty and childhood, was launched on February 16th, 2010, by Her Excellency Moushira Khattab, Minister of State for Family and Population, Dr. Alia El Mahdi, Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Political Science at Cairo University, and Ms. Sigrid Kaag, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

“Children, who represent one-third of Egypt's citizens today, should be explicitly considered in any poverty mapping or poverty reduction programme,” said Her Excellency Moushira Khattab, Minister of State for Family and Population and co-chair of the Study Steering Committee.

The Child Poverty and Disparities in Egypt study, one of nearly 50 country studies initiated by UNICEF and carried out in all regions of the world, uses a rights-based framework to child poverty that defines poverty as multi-dimensional and not only a lack of income or low consumption. The eight dimensions of poverty considered in the study (income, shelter, food, education, information, health, sanitation, water) are interrelated and interdependent. Deprivation of one right is likely to affect a child’s ability to enjoy other rights.

One in four Egyptian children (more than seven million) live deprived of one or more of their rights to be children and enjoy their childhood. Around 1.2 million children live in absolute poverty, which means they are deprived of two or more rights. More than 1.4 million children live on less than US$1 per day and 15.6 million children live on less than US$2 per day, the study found.

Whether income poverty is measured according to the official income poverty line of Egypt or using global definition of US$1 per day, the number of children living in poverty and extreme poverty is increasing, despite impressive economic growth in recent years, reaching as high as 7.2% in 2008. In 2009, the number of poor households with children exceeded 1996 levels. And 23% of children under the age of 15 years in Egypt were living in income poverty, the study stated. It adds that budget allocations for authorities benefiting children have grown three times as slow as budget allocations for other authorities.

The report recommends that policies intended to address child poverty do this through policies directly targeted at children rather that to rely on indirect effects on children’s well-being. At the same time, public policies—be it social or macro economic policies—should always be designed with due consideration to their direct or indirect impact on children. Furthermore, it recommends that Government budgets should be structured to reflect the policies and programmes it funds and the outcomes it intends to achieve.
Egypt is one of five countries in the MENA region to conduct the study and it is the second country to launch it, following Djibouti. Other countries are Morocco, Occupied Palestinian Territory and Yemen.

Find here the Egypt summary reports in English and in Arabic and the Full Report (English).

Focal Point: Dennis Arends