Egypt is a country of mostly young people, many of which were decisive in bringing about political change in recent years. As a country of 90 million, with half the population under 25 years of age, Egypt is home to the largest youth population in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. While young people took to the streets in 2011 chanting “Bread, Freedom and Social Justice”, the protests did not help to generate solutions to these demands. Youth who had the ambition to re-build the country were faced by quickly deteriorating labor market conditions and increasing political instability, while prices soared.
Despite a number of serious efforts by the Government of Egypt (GoE) to develop more inclusive youth policies, core grievances remain unaddressed. The GoE has implemented a number of labor market reforms to improve the job situation for young people, although the impact of these programs is not yet being felt. The GoE also tried to provide more voice and agency to youth, for example through a new election law that allocates 16 parliament seats for youth. While these are positive developments, the security concerns have led to mass arrests and civil society has been effectively paralyzed, just as basic democratic principles such as free and fair elections have been undermined. As a result, very few channels remain available to young Egyptians to peacefully voice dissent or to initiate positive change in their communities, with an ever increasing risk of radicalization and violent response.
Box: What is Youth Inclusion?
The World Bank support to youth combines the ‘lifecycle approach’ to youth, as defined by the WDR 2007 on Youth in Development as ‘the period of time during which a young person goes through a formative transition into adulthood’. For operational purposes, the Bank mostly considers the 15-30 age range during the transition from adolescence to adulthood. For analytical and operational work, different definitions are sometimes used, depending on context and objectives.
Taking a lifecycle approach provides a holistic and integrated methodology that connects and reinforces the various policy support measures in a coherent manner. Research shows that risky behaviors of youth are frequently inter-related and can have similar origins. Focusing on these common causes rather than the problems themselves is likely to have a deeper, lasting impact and help address multiple challenges at the same time.
Youth need challenging experiences that are appropriate, diverse and sufficiently intense. All young people, whether in school, employment or without work, whether low-income or affluent, need a mix of services, support and opportunities to stay engaged. They need relevant and reliable information to make informed decisions and to understand how the choices they make will affect their lives. They need opportunities for real participation and involvement in a range of community life.
Positive outcomes require an understanding lives and young people, including their social environment, relationships and opportunities. Giving greater attention to the care, empowerment and protection of youth is the soundest way to break the intergenerational transmission of poverty and risky behavior, and to reduce vulnerability to extremism, while empowering young people and giving them the knowledge, skills and confidence to meet the global challenges of our times.
The approach of the Egypt Youth Engagement Initiative and its support to (a) Economic Opportunities; (b) Social Inclusion, and (c) Participation for young people remained fully aligned with the higher-level regional development objectives of the MENA Regional Strategy. In particular, the Project is aligned with Pillar 1 of the Regional Strategy, Renewing the Social Contract, as the TA promotes an inclusive approach towards building trust between citizens and institutions and supports the strong participation of beneficiaries. It is also well aligned with pillars 2 and 3 of the World Bank’s Country Partnership Framework (CPF) for Egypt.
Project Objectives and Description
Project Development Objectives
The development objective of the Egypt Youth Engagement Project is to promote and mainstream youth inclusion in Egypt through the World Bank portfolio. The Project aimed to support agency, voice and participation of youth (ages 15-30) and strengthen the relationship with young citizens by providing opportunities for young people in Egypt.
Expected Results. The activities under Project are designed to enable short-term and long-term impacts along the key dimensions for Youth Inclusion in line with: (a) Economic Opportunities; (b) Social Inclusion; and (b) Participation. While the mainstreaming will directly contribute to youth development opportunities and youth inclusion, Youth Third Party Monitoring will give voice and agency to young people while strengthening project results and accountability. The support to Entrepreneurship and Social Entrepreneurship will set positive examples and show-case new opportunities of youth empowerment for young Egyptians, while fostering entrepreneurship and social inclusion. In the medium term, the combined Youth Engagement is expected to contribute to a more constructive dialog between youth organizations and public institutions.
The initiative aimed to reach its objective through three key components: (i) Mainstreaming Youth Inclusion, (ii) Youth Monitoring and Evaluation, and (iii) Entrepreneurship, Outreach and Communication.
Pillar 1: Mainstreaming Youth Inclusion focusses on increasing the participation of youth in development projects and the impact of such projects on young people, by leveraging existing and new World Bank financed projects and programs in Egypt. Mainstreaming is being targeted to ensure meaningful impacts for youth beneficiaries, and will take different shapes within each project. The emphasis is on youth participation and employment creation, for example by setting specific youth targets in employment and investment programs, or by creating a space for youth groups as part of a project’s implementation arrangements. Mainstreaming will make small changes to project designs and implementation arrangements and will be complemented by consultation workshops and communications activities via: (a) a participatory study to inform Bank staff about priorities of young people; and (b) holding workshops for pipeline projects to include youth priorities in design. In addition, an outreach campaign will also allow youth to better understand development efforts and their impacts.
Pillar 2: Youth-Led Monitoring & Evaluation:5The Youth Engagement initiative aimed to support a selected group of World Bank projects which are ongoing and introduce Third Party Monitoring (TPM) activities by engaging youth associations from universities and civil society organizations. For each project, the Youth Monitoring & Evaluation activities aim to follow the World Bank TPM guidelines by: (i) identifying project monitoring needs that would benefit from monitoring by a TMP mechanism; (ii) assessing the local project context; (iii) selecting the monitoring methodology or approach most suitable to the context; (iv) designing the implementation modalities for TMP and drafting relevant Terms of Reference; (v) selecting and training dedicated youth who will support TMP through youth associations; (vi) implementing monitoring by trained youth associations; and (vii) continuously monitoring results and assessing project effectiveness.
Under Pillar II of the TA, the Youth Engagement Initiative further collaborated with the Ministry of International Cooperation in Egypt (MoIC) in capacity building activities related to M&E. In a first step the Ministry together with the World Bank conducted a needs assessment to identify areas of support, which included an M&E Technical Training on Performance Measurement and Management and Third Party Monitoring training series in Egypt. Both activities were implemented with the support of an external partner selected through a competitive bidding process. The Performance Measurement and Management training included a two-day workshop while the Third Party Monitoring course was implemented over a series of workshops and other training activities.
Pillar 3: Outreach, Communication & Entrepreneurship6 supports youth-led entrepreneurship and social-entrepreneurship activities, including ideation and incubator events, as well as an essay competition, and active outreach and communication with youth. The activities support youth-oriented entrepreneurship and provide exciting new opportunities to develop innovative ideas to create positive change. The supported grant challenge and incubation events leverage existing activities with internal and external partners in Egypt, and will be targeted at youth and in particular young women with a focus on social entrepreneurship.