New avenues to be opened for social protection in the Arab world: the case of Egypt

The article’s subject is social protection in the Arab world. Giving the example of Egypt, it asks why poverty is so widespread and why – despite the country’s numerous sophisticated social protection systems – social risks are a major contributing factor to it. It concludes that reforms are due. The existing systems are well funded but comparatively inefficient and more to the benefit of the better-off than the poor. A reform approach is proposed which builds on both, conventional and more innovative strategies of social protection. On the one hand, campaigns should be launched to raise public awareness of social risks, social assistance spending be increased and the operating public pension schemes be reformed. On the other hand, new avenues have to be opened to meet the specific protection needs of informal sector workers who are not covered by either social insurance or assistance. To this purpose, micro insurance schemes based on a partnership of NGOs, commercial insurance companies and the state are a new but promising approach for the Arab world region.