About UNDP in Egypt

Woman carrying her babyAn Egyptian woman with her baby at one of Egypt's villages. UNDP 2013

The United Nations began providing development assistance to Egypt in 1953. In those days this was done through the United Nations Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance (EPTA). In 1958 the United Nations Special Fund established an office in Cairo to expand the work of EPTA. This office became the United Nations Development Programme Country Office in 1966.

What do we want to accomplish?

UNDP’s overall mission is to help the Egyptian government in its efforts to reduce poverty and to promote sustainable development policies. Over the past 20 years the nature of UNDP’s support to Egypt has changed and become more focused. This has reflected changes in UNDP worldwide. UNDP Egypt supports activities in four practice areas: Poverty reduction, Energy and Environment, Democratic Governance, and Crisis Prevention and Recovery. In all our activities, we encourage the protection of human rights and the empowerment of women. Another enormous change has been the move from supporting the implementation of projects by UN agencies to the management and implementation of projects by the Egyptian authorities. Finally, UNDP has become far more conscious of the need to show results in its development work. UNDP Egypt like many other UNDP offices has adopted the so-called “Results Based Management” (RBM) approach. RBM aims to show exactly how UNDP is making a contribution to improving the development situation of the country. UNDP Egypt is now taking this one step further by applying the RBM approach to all of its projects and thus creating a results-orientated project management system.

What are our results?

UNDP’s support in the area of Poverty Reduction resulted in the Social Fund for Development (SFD) creating an average of 285,000 jobs per year during the past four years by supporting MSME creation with micro-credit, business development services and entrepreneurship building. The SFD started as a UNDP project and has evolved into a quasi-governmental organization focused on job creation, earning the trust of donors generating more than a billion dollars in donor-funded programs. UNDP’s support to the Government’s effort in reforming the social insurance system have resulted in the issuance of more than 780,000 smart cards for social insurance payments, in addition to the establishment of a wide array of service points and cash dispensing machines. UNDP has also helped the Government develop a comprehensive data base on the poor which has helped target more effective social subsidies and social protection programmes.

In the area of Democratic Governance, UNDP pioneered several initiatives in Egypt to promote the culture of human rights and supported the National Council for Human Rights in building its institutional capacity. In 2011, UNDP used its impartiality, access to other country experiences and convening power to support Egypt’s transition period by the first post revolution national dialogue initiative, conducting a national forum on democratic transition. Also, in support of the first parliamentary and presidential elections in the transition period, UNDP mobilized US$ 11 million and international and national electoral expertise, which was used to strengthen the technical and operational capacity of the electoral authorities, enhance voter participation, and strengthen credibility of the results. UNDP has also been promoting the use of IT since the late 90s by increasing access to IT clubs, which cover all the governorates of the Egypt and house 25,919 computers and peripherals serving more than 1 million users.

To help improve sustainable management of the natural environment, UNDP collaborated with the Ministry of Environment on nature and wildlife conservation activities, to establish ten natural protectorates across Egypt and improved local community engagement in conservation. UNDP also supported the assessment of Climate Change physical and socio-economic impact on the most vulnerable sectors including coastal zones, water resources, and agriculture, in addition to developing recommended adaptation measures. UNDP is currently working on piloting soft engineering solutions for coastal zone protection. UNDP has helped the Ministry of Electricity and Energy introduce and promote energy efficiency concepts that succeeded in reducing losses in transmission cables from 7% to 3.5% and aided in the preparation of a national code for energy efficient buildings and the introduction of energy efficiency standards and labels. The successful demonstration of energy efficiency projects in some governmental buildings yielded 30-40% energy savings.

Who are the decision makers?

UNDP Egypt is now one of 17 UNDP offices in the Arab region covered by the UNDP headquarters Bureau for Arab States (RBAS), which acts as the link between the UNDP Administrator in New York and the UNDP Resident Representative in the field. Since 1977 the UNDP Resident Representative in Egypt has also been the Resident Co-ordinator of the UN system in the country. In this position the Resident Co-ordinator represents the UN Secretary-General and co-ordinates the operational activities of the UN system at the country level. Currently there are 22 UN agencies represented in Egypt. An addition role of the UNDP Resident Representative is to co-chair the Development Partners Group (DPG).