A new project in Egypt aims to improve sanitation services for more than 800,000 poor Egyptians in the Nile Delta where there is a need to increase access to water, waste disposal, and health services. The US$550 million program approved by the World Bank’s Board of Directors on 28 July focuses on enhancing access to sanitation services for the rural poor and addressing the pollution of the Nile from untreated sewage.
The Sustainable Rural Sanitation Services Program for Results aims at empowering local service delivery and connecting rural poor to working sanitation systems in the Delta governorates of Daqahliya, Sharqiya, and Beheira in Lower Egypt.
“One of our strategic areas for supporting Egypt is improving service delivery especially for the poor,” said Asad Alam, World Bank Country Director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti. “The program will improve the well-being of rural Egyptians who suffer from poor access to sanitation services and face serious environmental and health threats.”
In the Nile Delta, the situation is of concern due to high groundwater levels and discharge of untreated sewage directly into the Nile’s Al Salam Canal and Rosetta Branch, thus, polluting Egypt’s scarce freshwater resources and jeopardizing the health of millions of Egyptians. The prevalence of diarrhea in children under the age of five is very high and disproportionately impacts the poorest.
Under the Program, responsibility and accountability will be decentralized to governorate level sanitation utilities. Transparent and predictable fiscal transfers will be introduced and will be linked to service performance. Systems will be put in place to ensure bottom-up accountability utilizing citizens report cards, grievance mechanisms and audit reforms.
“The Program is supporting the Egyptian government’s efforts to increase access to rural sanitation by shifting to a decentralized model that empowers the governorate level water and sanitation companies and makes them accountable to their citizens and stakeholders,” said Gustavo Saltiel, World Bank program team leader.
The current portfolio of the World Bank in Egypt includes 26 projects for a total commitment of US$5.92 billion. The World Bank finances projects for faster delivery of benefits to the people of Egypt in key sectors including energy, transport, water and sanitation, agriculture and irrigation, housing, social protection, as well as health and education.