Africa’s third most populous country, Egypt hosts a growing population of 94.79 million, and serves as an influential geopolitical actor in the Middle East and North Africa. Despite being classified as a middle-income country, poverty and spatial inequality remain major human development challenges, as fluctuations in currency rates and local macro-economic challenges affect the country’s food and nutrition situation.
Following the ratification of a new constitution in 2014, the Government has taken concrete steps to reform the economy towards inclusive economic growth, providing safety nets for the most vulnerable. In 2016, Egypt launched the Egypt Vision 2030, a ten-pillar roadmap constituting the country’s Sustainable Development Strategy for achieving the 2030 Agenda. As highlighted in Egypt’s Voluntary National Review 2018, Egypt transformed the design, delivery and scope of national social protection programmes to better support vulnerable groups.
These reforms contributed to an improved real gross domestic product, reaching 5.3 percent in July 2017-June 2018 – a significant improvement compared to 4.2 percent in July 2016-June 2017. Yet, despite economic and social advancements, challenges in food security, malnutrition and gender-based equality remain.
According to the 2018 Global Hunger Index, Egypt suffers from a moderate level of hunger, ranking 61 of 119 countries. Affordability, food quality and food safety remain the most pressing challenges as Egypt continues to rely on global markets for more than half of its staples. Malnutrition is another growing public health concern, with the double burden of undernutrition, including high rates of stunting and micronutrient deficiencies, and overweight and obesity. Because of poor hygiene education and lack of positive food consumption awareness, the burden of malnutrition among children aged between 6 months and 2 years, adolescents and women of reproductive age continues to increase.
Through the National Strategic Plan for Pre-University Education (2014-2030), the Government aims to achieve full coverage through its National School Feeding Programme and to increase the nutritional value of school meals.
The World Food Programme (WFP) is working closely with the Egyptian Government in its efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2, providing institutional support in social protection, food security and nutrition; acceleration and scale-up of innovation in development; promotion of smallholder farmers' long-term resilience; and knowledge and technology transfer for greater South-South cooperation.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Egypt
Social inclusionWFP complements the Government’s school feeding initiative by providing food incentives in community (one-classroom schools built in remote areas) and public schools, including those hosting Syrian refugees. Through a holistic approach, WFP combats barriers to education and food insecurity through take-home rations, livelihood training for the financial empowerment of mothers and capacity strengthening for child protection workers and teachers.
Food securityWFP works to enable national institutions to systematically monitor and respond to food security risks, provide evidence-based analysis for food security policy, and support food-based social safety net reform efforts.
Resilience buildingWFP supports national efforts to enable vulnerable communities in rural Upper Egypt and border governorates to improve their resilience to socio-economic shocks and climatic changes through various interventions including the rehabilitation of assets, technology transfer and diversification of incomes.
NutritionWFP contributes to strengthening national capacity to prevent chronic malnutrition among the most vulnerable populations. As part of the ‘First 1,000 Days of Life’ programme, WFP supports pregnant and nursing women and children under 2 through an integrated approach of nutrition-sensitive assistance including access to nutritious food baskets, Primary Health Care Services and knowledge on infant and young child feeding practices.
Refugee and migrant supportWFP provides food assistance to vulnerable Syrian refugees and nutrition assistance to pregnant and nursing women from Syria and vulnerable host communities. In 2019, WFP has assisted 102,000 refugees and host community members with food assistance. WFP To promote social inclusiveness and self-reliance, WFP implements livelihood knowledge and skills development trainings for both refugees and vulnerable host community members, with the aim of eliminating disparities, achieving better social cohesion and ensuring equal access to food.