H.E. Minister of Social Solidarity, Nivine El-Kabbag witnessed the signature of the project agreement entitled, ‘Support to COVID-19 Response’, for €6 Million over three years between the ministry of Social Solidarity (MoSS), the European Union (EU) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
MoSS hosted the signing ceremony with all concerned national and international partners in the attendance of the Head of EU Delegation to Egypt, H.E. Ambassador Christian Berger, UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Randa Aboul-Hosn, and Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for International Cooperation and Development, H.E. Ambassador Lamia Mekhemar.
The new partnership aims to work on two interlinked tiers of the COVID-19 pandemic’s response to reduce the implications on the vulnerable groups. The first tier is concerned with preventing new people’s infection to flatten the curve of mounting cases especially among the poorer families targeted by MoSS who may not afford to completely dismiss themselves for long periods from their work as they may not have adequate social security schemes. The second tier will work on addressing the COVID-19 socio-economic consequences to expand social safety nets for vulnerable families affected by the pandemic conditions and create dynamic work opportunities to families completely reliant on social protection programs.
To achieve the project’s objectives, it will focus on raising awareness of Takaful and Karama’s programme beneficiaries on COVID-19 and will support the acceleration of MoSS’ national vision and operational schemes to complete the relevant infrastructure and institutional capacity development to adopt digital solutions to enhance MoSS processes with regards to providing services targeting vulnerable groups such as Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) or less privileged and educated families or sectors. It will also work on enhancing the vulnerable groups’ socio-economic status, providing support to 168 Elderly Care Institutions and 7 Homeless Shelters for the Elderly, supervised by MoSS, and dedicating information and support to PWDs.
Minister of Social Solidarity, H.E. Minister Nivine El-Kabbag affirmed: “MoSS in all times works with the most vulnerable and weakest families or groups, thus having to protect them and ensure their accessibility to socio-economic services or facilities including minimal economic support in addition to increased accessibility of health and education facilities for their families. Yet, the COVID-19 pandemic increased vulnerability of our targeted audience thus MoSS had to instantly increase and expand its social safety nets and protection schemes to support families who were borderline poor and were struck by the pandemic’s impact on them thus moving them from a borderline poor score to a confirmed poor classification. On this note, I have to salute the receptive efforts of both the Egyptian government and civil society organizations that have concerted their efforts to support additional vulnerable groups under a unified social protection umbrella since COVID-19 started last year, and today we will continue building our partnership with the European Union to further enhance Egypt’s vision to expand Social Safety nets and Social Protection Schemes targeting the most vulnerable groups.”
“Last April, the EU together with its Member States and European financial institutions launched the 'Team Europe' initiative to cooperate with partner countries and to help them cope with the consequences of the pandemic and its impact on their societies and economies. Considering the scale of this pandemic that is unfolding in an unprecedented scope and speed and by now in several waves, I believe we will win the fight through close cooperation between partners, between countries and regions. The project we are signing today with Egypt will support vulnerable groups and reduce the risk of further infections. It is the result of close consultations with the Government of Egypt on the best way forward to fight this pandemic jointly,” said the Head of the European Union Delegation to Egypt, Ambassador Christian Berger. “With today’s signature we are demonstrating how the EU-EG partnership is delivering for the benefit of people. In one word: solidarity and close cooperation, especially during challenging times,” he added.
Assistant Minister of International Cooperation for relations with the UN and its agencies, Dina Safwat, mentioned in a speech delivered on behalf of Minster of International Cooperation, Dr. Rania El Mashat- that the pandemic has caused a slowdown in the development efforts on a global level. “Since the beginning of 2020, the Ministry of International Cooperation has sought to hold successive meetings with multilateral and bilateral development partners within the joint partnership platform to strengthen development cooperation and make development funds available for Egypt’s priorities.”
Ms. Safwat praised the development partners’ response, including the EU and UNDP, for the national efforts to achieve development and address COVID-19 impact.
She added that an agreement was made last year to make $500 million available from the World Bank to strengthen the social protection network by increasing the number of beneficiaries of the Takaful and Karama project, which has become a worldwide model in protecting the most vulnerable groups, as well as $477 million for health care and the inclusive health insurance project.
UNDP Egypt Resident Representative, Ms. Randa Aboul-Hosn, emphasized the timeliness and significance of investing in innovation and digital development as immediate solutions to combat COVID-19’s socio-economic implications. She confirmed that several countries had sought digital transformation to protect its economies and people since the beginning of the COVID-19 global crisis earlier this year.