Literacy up to 71.4 percent, but water issues persist
CAIRO: Egypt moved up 8 places to No. 111 out of 177 countries on the United Nations Development Program s (UNDP) annual Human Development Report, UNDP announced Monday.
The report attributed the improvement in Egypt s position to several factors, the most significant of which was a 15.8 percent leap in the country s literacy rate to 71.4 percent.
The report marked improvement in other indicators including a rise in the average life expectancy from 69.8 to 70.2 and a rise in per-capita income from $3,950 (LE 22,555) to $4,211 (LE 24,045) annually. The income measurement is based on the gross domestic product divided over the population a purchasing power parity.
Despite the encouraging marks, UNDP Resident Representative James Rawley said water resource management and sanitation need to be addressed in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries. While 98 percent of Egyptians have access to clean drinking water, just 4 percent of rural residents have access to the national sewage grid, according to UNDP figures.
UNDP Environmental Specialist Mohamed Bayoumi told The Daily Star Egypt while the water sanitation may have reflected negatively on the 2006 report, the government is taking steps to address the issue such as announcing its LE 20 billion plan to develop the country s water treatment and sewage infrastructure.
Still, he said more needs to be done to improve access to water. Per-capita share of clean water dipped in 2006 below the 1,000 cubic meters per year level as more water was allocated to the industrial and agricultural sectors.
What this report advises is working to make more efficient use of the scarce water resources available, Bayoumi said. It is ultimately not a conflict between industry and individuals if the resources available are put to efficient use.
The Minister of Economic Development Othman Mohamed Othman said the government recognizes the political importance of improving access to water and developing the country s sewage infrastructure. More than LE 75 billion has been allocated to projects in both sectors in the 2007-2012 plan, he added.
Regionally, Israel led the pack at No. 23 and Kuwait followed at 33. Qatar and the United Arab Emirates came in at Nos. 46 and 49, respectively.
A ranking in the middle of the list of medium-developed countries should not be satisfying for Egypt especially given its enormous development potentials, particularly its human capital, Rawley Said. Current development efforts need to be maintained and further enhanced for Egypt to assume its rightful place on the development scale in the foreseeable future.