Transforming livelihoods through cash transfers to more than 1.5 million families in Egypt

March 30, 2017


  • Egypt’s Social Safety Net is a targeted program for the country’s poorest, most vulnerable families
  • Takaful and Karama program is about social inclusion and expanding opportunities to the underprivileged.
  • Poor families can now afford to invest in the health and education of their children.

Thanks to "Takaful and Karama" program, many of Egypt’s poorest families can now afford to keep their children in school and in better health. The monthly income they receive from the government is helping them buy their children food, school uniforms, and other supplies. 
I always dreamt of educating my children,” said a mother of three from Assuit, Egypt’s poorest governorate. “I didn’t want them to be illiterate like me. However, we could not afford their school fees and monthly expenses, so their father wanted them out of school.” Takaful helped keep her children in school and cover their expenses.

Egypt’s Takaful and Karama social safety nets program is currently covering about 1.5 million families (or 6 million Egyptians) from the country’s poorest and most vulnerable, out of the end target of 1.7 million families by end of June 2017.

The World Bank-funded Strengthening Social Safety Nets Project ($400 million) is supporting the Government of Egypt to provide income support and expand social inclusion to poor families with young children, as well as the elderly and persons with severe disabilities.

The goals are to protect vulnerable households from severe poverty and destitution; to ensure that children grow up healthy and well fed, and stay in school to learn; to empower women and girls.

The Egyptian government launched its cash transfer program, calling them Takaful and Karama, which mean Dignity and Solidarity in Arabic. Takaful provides monthly income per family and per each child it has in school, based on an incentive-based system related to school attendance and making use of maternal and child health care services. Karama provides monthly income to poor elderly people age over 65 and people with severe disabilities who are unable to work.

The elderly poor and severely disabled now feel more secure. A woman from Egypt’s second poorest governorate of Qena said: “With the Karama pension, my kids got to eat chicken twice a week.” Her husband was jobless because of a leg injury that had happened to him when he was a carpenter. “I could also afford to buy few items and even started a small kiosk in my neighborhood to help cover our expenses,” she said.


" I always dreamt of educating my children. I didn’t want them to be illiterate like me. However, we could not afford their school fees and monthly expenses, so their father wanted them out of school. "

A mother of three from Assuit, Egypt’s poorest governorate.

The World Bank has been an active development partner in the social protection agenda in Egypt.

To help reduce the impact of Egypt’s ambitious economic reforms program, the country has placed a strong focus on social measures to support the income of the poor and the vulnerable,” said Asad Alam, World Bank Country Director for Egypt, Yemen, and Djibouti. “We are very pleased to be supporting the government’s social protection efforts, especially in the expansion of the Takaful and Karama program, which is reaching out to people who live in extreme poverty.

The project supports the Ministry of Social Solidarity in identifying the poor and ensuring its resources reach the poorest sectors of society. It also supports efforts to make sure the program’s processes become more efficient and responsive.

To facilitate direct beneficiary and community participation, the Ministry of Social Solidarity has rolled-out programs focusing on citizen engagement and social accountability, with a work plan streamlining the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders at different levels. A Grievance Redress Mechanism allows redress for project-related concerns and complaints.

Countries of all income levels are investing in similar programs. Conditional cash transfer programs in Latin America, such as Bolsa Familia in Brazil and Prospera in Mexico, have been transformational.