CAIRO, December 10, 2012 - The need to develop a more efficient, equitable and sustainable social safety nets was one of the main highlights of a regional event convened by the World Bank and the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation in Egypt.
The workshop, Human Development Challenges and Social Safety Net in Egypt, was designed to build on the existing social policy dialogue between the Government of Egypt and World Bank by creating an opportunity to discuss the human development challenges facing Egypt and how the government can best respond. The gathering was held under the auspices of the Office of the Prime Minister and in coordination with the Institute of National Planning.
“Egypt has a longstanding tradition of support through social safety nets programs. We are looking to build a more effective and sustainable social safety net that would have a positive impact on poverty reduction and human capital development,” said Dr. Ashraf El-Araby, Egypt’s Minister of Planning and International Cooperation.
The workshop focused on creating more equitable and efficient safety nets for Egypt in discussions guided by both the homegrown knowledge of Egypt's own experts and the of international experts in safety net reform.
“We are very pleased to contribute to the ongoing public discourse on the issues of social justice and equality of opportunity by sharing global experiences about the role of the state in providing effective and sustainable social safety nets,” said Hartwig Schafer, the World Bank’s Country Director for Egypt.
The workshop was attended by a wide range of stakeholder groups, including government, civil society, the donor community, academia and the private sector. Senior government advisors prominent NGO representatives shared their experience of the opportunities and challenges of reform.
“The workshop highlighted and drew lessons from the successful experiences of well-designed social safety nets systems in Brazil, Chile, Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey,” said Yasser El-Gammal, Manager of Social Protection in the World Bank’s MENA Region.
The workshop also addressed a broad array of issues interlinked with social safety nets including income inequality, inequality of opportunity, regional disparities, cash transfers, and targeting.
The workshop also presented the findings of recent studies by the World Bank examining various aspects of inequality in Egypt. Studies included income inequality, perceptions of inequality, inequality of opportunity, Egypt’s economic geography, and the forthcoming regional social safety net report. Participants at the workshop discussed the policy implications of these reports for all emerging political and social actors in Egypt.
All the studies highlighted the uneven progress in human development in Egypt and the opportunity presented by the demands of the 2011 revolution to re-direct social and economic policies and address the most vulnerable segments of the population, particularly children and youth.
“Accumulated international evidence shows that interventions to equalize opportunity early in life are far more cost effective than those done later in life,” said Lire Ersado, Senior Economist at the World Bank, and the lead author of one of the studies presented. “Early action is far more effective in breaking intergenerational cycles of poverty and inequality, and improving future outcomes for today’s youth.”