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Results Briefs November 17, 2020

Takaful and Karama: A Social Safety Net project that Promotes Egyptian Women Empowerment and Human Capital


Egyptian Women hold the cash transfer cards. 75% of the enrolled citizens in program are women.

Photo: Emad Abd ElHady/ World Bank

The Strengthening Social Safety Net project supports Egypt’s Takaful and Karama program in the country’s 27 governorates, with 3.1 million households or 11.1 million individuals enrolled to date since the program’s launch in 2015, 75 percent of them women. Over 67 percent of its cash components is directed to the most lagging regions. Impact aims to increase women’s decision-making powers, human capital in health and education, and productive inclusion.

As Egypt carries out macro-economic reforms, social safety net interventions, including the flagship Takaful and Karama program, remain critical for mitigating the impact on the poor and vulnerable.

Countrywide beneficiaries of the conditional (Takaful) and unconditional (Karama) cash transfer program include poor women and children, poor people with disabilities, poor orphans and poor widows.

Conditionalities in Takaful aim to break cycles of intergenerational poverty and promote human capital accumulation; the existing operation was used to extend coverage to additional beneficiaries as part of a COVID-19 social protection response.

Aware of the risk of reinforcing dependency on cash transfers, the government is launching the national Forsa (opportunity) program, a social protection plus program, as a pathway for graduation (from the program), productive inclusion, and creating livelihoods through a series of interventions, including asset transfer and financial inclusion. This will enable beneficiaries to build a measure of economic resilience and financial independence. 


Takaful and Karama supports Egypt’s most vulnerable citizens by providing:

  • Efficient Targeting: This is based on a Proxy Means Testing Questionnaire crosschecked with a Unified National Registry linked to the unique ID.
  • Conditional cash transfers: Takaful provides income support to increase food intake and reduce poverty. The health and education conditions ultimately lead to encouraging families to keep their children in school and give them health care. 
  • Unconditional cash transfer: Karama aims to protect poor citizens above 65 years of age and citizens with severe disabilities and diseases, poor orphans and poor widows. 
  • Economic Inclusion: To avoid beneficiaries remaining unemployed, the Ministry of Social Security (MOSS) launched Forsa or the Opportunity program, which focuses on job placement, asset transfer, training and skills development.
  • An integrated approach: Capitalizing on the Takaful and Karama database Management Information System, MOSS is linking beneficiaries to other social protection services that promote literacy, family planning, decent housing and wellbeing.


  • Throughout its lifetime, the Takaful and Karama program has had approximately 31 million registered applicants in its database.  
  • 3.11 million households are currently enrolled:

- 75 percent female card holders

- 25 percent male card holders

Of the total number of enrolled direct beneficiaries:

- 1.95 million (63 percent) are under Takaful; and 

- 1.16 million (37 percent) are under Karama

Of Karama beneficiaries:

- 838,921 are disabled (72 percent),

- 319,766 are elderly (27 percent), and

- 8,147 are orphans (less than 1 percent)

  • MOSS has activated to date 2,226 Social Accountability Committees (SACs) in 24 Governorates; the program’s Grievance Redress Management (GRM) system has also captured a total of 406,186 grievances and 82,725 information requests through its website and call center.
  • An independent impact evaluation conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) shows the program has had an impressive effect on women’s empowerment and economic inclusion, through:

- An increase from 7.3 percent to 8.4 percent, by Takaful beneficiaries, in household consumption, compared to households not participating in the program. 

- Reducing—by 12 percentage points—the likelihood that Takaful households would fall below the poverty line.

- Significantly increasing (from 8.3 to 8.9 percent) the value of Takaful beneficiaries’ monthly food consumption. 

- Takaful increased weight-for-height (WHZ) z-scores, which measure short-term nutritional status for children under age 2 years, a reduction of 3.7 percentage points in the likelihood that a child under 5 years was ever treated for malnourishment. 

- Increased spending on private tutoring, school supplies and school transportation. 

- Showing positive outcomes related to women’s empowerment and sense of dignity, with less financial stress in the family. Women’s decision-making ability is positively affected; this is not only associated with intra-household bargaining power but also with the household’s financial status. Targeting transfers to women increased their ability to make spending decisions.

  • Finally, the Takaful and Karama program has been institutionalized as a national program with fiscal allocations earmarked annually and steadily increasing over time in the national budget demonstrating the government’s commitment and ownership (the budget allocation for FY 21 is EGP19.3 billion).

The World Bank Group Contribution

The program’s operations build on International Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s long-standing engagement with MOSS in support of cash transfers in Egypt, including the parent Strengthening Social Safety Project Investment Project Financing Loan of US$400 million signed in 2015; and additional financing of US$500 million signed in 2019.


The main implementing partner of the program is the Ministry of Social Solidarity. There is a collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Technical Education (MOETE), Al-Azhar institute, and the Ministry of Health for the implementation of conditionality.

The World Bank has also received a generous grant contribution of US$2.2 million from the United Kingdom Government and raised other funds—US$180,000 from the Partnership for Economic Inclusion (PEI) and US$212,454 from the Nordic Trust Fund.

Moving Forward

Based on the success of the program since its launch in 2015, the government is placing its old Social Solidarity Pension system under the umbrella of Takaful and Karama to increase its efficacy overall. It is placing more emphasis on implementing and monitoring the conditionalities set for children’s education and health to ensure human capital is being strengthened in participating families. There are plans, too, to focus on moving from protection to production—or working to speed up participants’ graduation from Takaful by enabling them to generate their own livelihoods.


“If I want to buy something for the house, I go buy it. I take the decision because each woman knows her house needs. I also take decisions when I’m buying something personal for myself. But if it’s a general thing, then I take my husband’s opinion.” Riham, 25 years old, Menoufiya governorate.

“I am planning to get poultry and sell it, so that we can get a fan and [other] things we need. I am looking for a place to raise the poultry,” said Riham, adding that the cash transfers have been liberating for her and that her circumstances have improved.