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Social Protection in Egypt: AUC’s Pandemic and Post-Pandemic Research and Innovation Initiative

Yakin Ouederni
June 16, 2020

AUC’s Pandemic and Post-Pandemic Research and Innovation Initiative awarded funding to 10 different research projects that are aimed at creating an impact both during and after the global COVID-19 pandemic — contributing to the scholarship and innovation in the fight against it. In this series, we are highlighting each of the 10 projects to learn about what they are and what impact they will have on society.

Project 4: Social Protection in Egypt: Mitigating the Socio-Economic Effects of the COVID 19 Pandemic on Vulnerable Employment
Principal Investigator: Dina Makram-Ebeid, assistant professor, Department of Sociology, Egyptology and Anthropology
Co-Principal Investigators: Hania Sholkamy, associate professor, Social Research Center; Amr Adly, assistant professor, Department of Political Science; Samer Atallah, associate professor, Department of Economics


How it Began

When the global COVID-19 pandemic hit Egypt and the government began taking strict measures to combat the spread of it, a lot of focus shifted to how it will affect workers in organized and informal labor. Makram-Ebeid, whose research touches on the living and working conditions of vulnerable employees, decided to begin a project that would research policy recommendations for the social protection of the workers most affected by the pandemic. 


What it’s All About

This project looks into potential social protection interventions. The researchers will identify current policies, look at them within the context of the pandemic and then suggest how they can be reworked to better support citizens.

“The policy reorientations will pivot on human well being and rights,” Sholkamy said.

“The four main areas we highlighted are: social assistance, employment security, health care and gendered protection,” Makram-Ebeid said.

The product will be a policy report made of four different reports on each area of intervention and a workshop with the different stakeholders to discuss the report findings.


The Research Process

The project will be completed from home and online, including interviews and discussions. 

“It's a challenge of course, but we are hopeful that with the possibilities of working on the existing data sets and research networks we have developed over the years, we will be able to reach out to people and assess the impact of the pandemic on people's lives as accurately as possible,” Makram-Ebeid said.

The expected end date is September 2020. 


What’s the Impact? 

The project doesn’t just look at the current situation, but is future-focused as well. It is aimed at creating a safety net and protection for people whose livelihood, health and well-being are in more danger due to their type of employment, both during the pandemic and after. 

 “We hope that by having concrete, well-researched and well-studied policy recommendations, we can help improve vulnerable workers' resilience to the crisis and, more broadly, set up policy frameworks that will increase their job security and social protection on the long run as well,” Makram-Ebeid said. 

Sholkamy, who has been an adviser to the government and helped design and pilot Egypt’s cash transfer programs, said that the project will revise current policy in a “practical, grounded and forward-looking way.”