Saturday, April 23, 2011

In Brief: Poverty on the rise in Egypt


Construction workers in Egypt. The sector has been by a recession (file photo)
CAIRO, 14 April 2011 (IRIN) - Egypt has a relatively high average individual income, but 21 percent of its 80 million people still live in poverty, mostly in the south, according to a new report by the state-supervised Central Auditing Organization (CAO).

"The average individual annual income in Egypt is US$2,077," said the report focusing on 2009-2010, but noted that the number of poor people is on the rise. Some 12.2 million Egyptians, it said, lived in over 1,200 slums; 3,728 villages did not have access to sanitation; and 17 million adults were illiterate.

Commenting on the report, Rashad Abdo, an economics professor at the Cairo’s Arab Academy for Business and Financial Services, said the number of those living in poverty could be much higher. "The real figures about poverty might be stunning," he told IRIN. "There is a huge income disparity in our country, and unemployment."

The number of poor, he added, could rise given the recession that has hit important sectors such as tourism and the construction industry, following unrest since January. Matters will be worsened by reduced remittances from Libya, coupled with an influx of Egyptian migrant workers returning home from that country in recent weeks.


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