Poverty and corruption are two sides of the same coin, and in this case, Upper Egypt is the coin. As the poverty rate rises, the majority of the poor reside in Assiut and Sohag.
While this devastating situation has existed in parts of Egypt for decades, more cities in Upper Egypt are likely to join Assiut and Sohag.
Professor of economics at Cairo University Reem Abdel Halim said that poverty and corruption are closely linked. The more corruption permeates a society, the higher the poverty level will be, she added.
Abdel Halim said that the majority of those falling under the poverty line are located in Assiut and Sohag because the government has issues developing Upper Egypt, causing corruption.
"As long as the government has no sustainable programme to develop Upper Egypt, it will remain the poorest part of the country," she said.
More villages and smaller towns near the largest cities in Upper Egypt are likely to join Egypt's pool of poorest areas, which will cause even more corruption.
The government must notice that its development initiatives and programmes in Upper Egypt are not effective, she said.
In turn, the United Nations must understand that local administrative systems, which too often have cumbersome and complex requirements, hamper the implementation of assistance programmes, she said.
The UN should hold talks with the Egyptian government to find a better way to measure the impact of their programmes, which is the only way to provide more effective programmes, Abdel Halim said.
The government has not applied or provided any programme to combat poverty, even with the rise in prices that has been happening daily, she said.
The percentage of the population that falls under the poverty line has been jumping every year since 2000.
According to the professor, the sample selected and studied by the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS) is already being improved. There are problems with the quality and quantity of food, and the amount of money needed to sustain basic life necessities. Therefore, relying solely on such data to determine how many people fall under the poverty line would yield inaccurate results. The rate is higher than 27.8%, Abdel Halim noted.
"I wonder why people are surprised by the results of the survey. [The high rate] is expected and obvious," she said.
Abdel Halim added that the Karama and Takafol (dignity and solidarity) programme improved the life conditions of many families, especially in Upper Egypt. The programme is a governmental initiative launched by the Ministry of Social Solidarity to address poverty in governorates across Egypt.
The results of the programmes were not tangible when the survey was made, she noted.
By Hisham Salah
© 2021 Daily News Egypt.