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Egypt Attaches Sustainable Development Strings to Coronavirus Recovery Plan

April 5, 2020
Egypt’s strategy to attach sustainable development to combat coronavirus (Credit: Ministry of International Cooperation

In a recent statement, Secretary-General António Guterres expressed his determination to support countries to emerge stronger from the crisis and prevent it from derailing sustainable development efforts.

As governments around the world are currently under growing pressure to design economic recovery plans to combat the coronavirus pandemic, Egypt is working to turn this crisis into an impetus to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Rania Al-Mashat, Ministry of International Cooperation, held a video conference meeting with more than 100 professionals representing development professionals and development organizations to discuss opportunities for advancing and promoting future mutual economic cooperation.

Video conference meeting between Minister Rania al-Mashat and development partners.

The meeting was attended by various representatives, particularly from UN agencies, World Bank Group, International Monetary Fund, African Development Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

During the meeting, Al-Mashat presented a New Global Partnerships Narrative, noting that all measures to mitigate the impact of the novel coronavirus should not derail development efforts from its intended purposes to achieve SDGs.

This comes after the UN reflected fears that efforts for combating the virus might risk overlooking the SDGs objectives, which can cause negative consequences after the alleviation of the pandemic.

New Global Partnerships Narrative

The main vision behind the New Global Partnerships Narrative is to strengthen Egypt’s inclusive multilateral engagement with development partners, governments, private sector and the civil society to effectively deliver the 2030 National Agenda, consistent with the UN Sustainable Development Goals aimed at achieving a circular economy.

The new narrative will focus on three pillars which are ‘People at the Core’, ‘Projects in Action’ and ‘Purpose as the Driver’ to highlight the development cooperation to achieve SDGs.

For the first pillar, Egypt is committed to improving the Egyptian peoples lives by identifying existing gaps and providing multi – sectoral assistance to millions of beneficiaries through public private partnerships that push Egyptians towards realizing their full potential.

As for the second pillar, the Minister highlighted that projects have been implemented across multiple sectors including in education, transportation, water desalination, renewable energy, enterprenership, and women empowerment.

For the third pillar, the Minister referred to partnerships with purpose as key drivers to generate sustained and inclusive growth in a rapidly changing world. “Purpose in our projects serves important strategic roles: defining our playing field through collaboration with our multilateral and bilateral partners, and allowing us to shape our growth potential,” the ministry notes.

Commenting on the new narrative; Randa Aboul-Hosn, UNDP Resident Representative in Egypt said that the Ministry presented a coherent and innovative mapping and alignment of development cooperation in Egypt to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Protect, Provide, and Progress

Credit: Ministry of International Cooperation

As the potential risks of COVID-19 continue to rise, efforts have been stepped up to enhance infection prevention.

Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being

Alternative mechanisms for testing patients were identified through the establishment of 27 laboratories across the country and additional 4 university laboratories, as well as scaling up the infection prevention and control (IPC) program with the WHO to prevent transmission and ensure patients & health workers are protected.

It also aims to expand capacity to conduct up to 200,000 tests within two weeks and setting up eight isolation hospitals with capacity of 2000 beds with 1000 ICU beds, as well as 400 ventilators and setting field hospitals for the admission of mild and asymptotic cases.

Goal 4: Quality Education

Egypt launched a new digital library available for free to every Egyptian student with learning material (digital objects) extracted from EKB and sorted out/assembled for G1-G12 students in both Arabic and English.

In a parallel action, the Ministry of Education and Technical Education (MOETE) decided to deploy a customized version of the Edmodo Learning Management System for around 55,000 schools and train teachers to create their own virtual classrooms and invite their own students (and possibly their parents as well).

Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

The minister also pointed to some of the measures that have been announced in regards to social protection, which includes one-off unemployment benefits of LE 500 offered to informal workers registered at the database of the Ministry of Manpower through post offices.

Registration has already included around one million individuals working in construction, agriculture, fishing and plumbing.

Meanwhile, the Central Bank pushed forward digital reform, including exempting all domestic money transfers from fees & commissions to decrease the use of cash and improve merchant acceptance landscape by encouraging QR codes, request-to-pay method and the automatic enrollment for customers to internet banking services.

Goal 10: Reduce Inequalities

To reduce inequality, the Minister highlighted 60,000 households were added to Takaful and Karama Program. An additional 100,000 will be added as the budget will increase to 19.3 Billion EGP compared to 18.5 Billion EGP.

Goal 5: Gender Equality

The government also increased payments to women community leaders in rural areas from EGP 350 to EGP 900 per month to ensure gender equity.

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