…For Vulnerable Egyptian Workers Impacted By COVID-19
By Emmanuel Oluebube
The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) on May 25, 2020 approved a US$500,000 emergency assistance grant to Egypt to provide food relief, and to contribute to restoring the livelihoods of vulnerable populations severely affected by COVID 19.
The intervention will seek to complement ongoing activities by Egypt’s government to mitigate the effects of the virus pandemic on Egyptians. The emergency assistance will prioritize and contribute to critical interventions to ensure food security for all following the outbreak of the pandemic, which has left millions struggling to make ends meet.
Since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on 11 March 2020, there are currently over 118,000 confirmed cases across the African continent. Egypt is the one of Africa’s hardest hit countries, with 17,900 confirmed cases to date. Despite Egypt’s strong economic growth, the pandemic is expected to particularly hurt the informal sector, which provides livelihoods for the majority of the poor and vulnerable.
The Egyptian government’s Action Plan for COVID-19 aims to preserve the gains made by the Egyptian economy, which stabilized recently, and has earmarked EGP 100 billion (approximately US$6.6 billion) in a funding package to help fight the spread of COVID-19 and fund treatment.
Egypt’s cabinet has also announced a raft of measures to mitigate against the effects of the pandemic. These include applying a one-time stipend of EGP 500 for 3 months to informal workers whose livelihoods were disrupted and are not receiving any other form of subsidy; providing EGP 1 billion for exporters as part of a package of measures aimed at supporting the industrial sector; and easing measures and procedures for MSMEs to allow access to finance in support of business operation and employee retention.
The Bank’s extension of emergency assistance funding is based on the scale of the emergency triggered by the pandemic which is clearly an urgent challenge the Government is combatting; and the proposed activities can be carried out expeditiously and effectively within the required time frame.