Last month, Sawiris Foundation for Social Development (SFSD) hosted a seminar on March 9 to present and discuss initial insights from the Bab Amal program and the possibility of scaling up the program in Egypt. This pilot program, led by SFSD, is the first of its kind, in which a package of sequenced interventions addresses the barriers that make it difficult to overcome extreme poverty. Implemented by SFSD partners Giving Without Limits Association (GWLA) in Assiut and the Egyptian Human Development Association (EHDA) in Sohag, the Bab Amal program is being evaluated by the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab in The Middle East and North Africa (J-PAL MENA).
Bab Amal program is the application of BRAC International’s Targeting Ultra Poor Graduation Approach in Egypt, which proved its success in almost 50 countries, affecting the lives of a diverse map of communities and contexts. SFSD and its partners thoughtfully contextualized the approach to extremely poor Egyptian households in the Bab Amal program since 2018, to be implemented in two governorates in Upper Egypt, Sohag and Assiut, with 2,267 Families benefiting from its interventions, spanning across 35 different villages.
Key features of the Bab Amal program include:
Opening remarks and discussions included notable contributions from Noura Selim, Executive Director of SFSD, Alison Fahey, Executive Director of J-PAL MENA at AUC, Paul Taylor, Director of Country Portfolio at BRAC International's Ultra Poor Graduation initiative, as well as gen. Essam El-din El-Leithy, general secretary, Governorate of Sohag also contributed to opening remarks.
Julie Kedroske, acting head of technical assistance of BRAC International's Ultra Poor Graduation Initiative offered an overview of the Graduation Approach and its four key pillars: social empowerment, social protection, financial inclusion, and livelihoods promotion. Ms. Kedroske also highlighted the evidence from pilot programs of the Graduation Approach that took place in eight different countries. Finally, she shared how BRAC International is partnering with governments in Kenya, the Philippines, and Rwanda to adapt and scale the Graduation Approach and what a scale-up with the Egyptian government could look like. Nahed Yousry, Director of the Social Empowerment Sector at SFSD offered a presentation following a short documentary of Bab Amal and its interventions, discussing key features of the Bab Amal program. She also shared that a household is eligible for graduation from the program once it meets six mandatory criteria: meeting basic nutritional needs, has grown its assets by 50%, has generated three sources of income, is engaged in regular savings, has saved 360 EGP and is following appropriate hygiene measures.
Professor Ragui Assaad, Professor of economics at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, and Mona Amer, Senior Research Manager at J-PAL MENA, presented the study currently underway to evaluate the impact of the Bab Amal program on the outcomes of its beneficiaries, including household’s socioeconomic wellbeing, consumption, food security, livestock ownership, and savings. This study compares the Bab Amal program at full cost versus a lower-cost version of the program. This will help policymakers to determine the most cost-effective version of the program when scaling it up. The J-PAL MENA-affiliated researchers are also measuring the difference in impact when female-headed households receive the interventions in comparison to any head of the household receiving the interventions. This comparison will offer insights on whether or not the interventions have a greater impact when introduced through female-headed households.
In this impact evaluation, we at the Foundation are looking to learn from Bab Amal’s Pilot, but more specifically we are looking to study the various modes of application of such a program using the robust methodology of conducting Randomized Control Trials (RCTs), keeping in sight the program’s scaling-up utilizing lessons learned from this pilot.
The event also featured a discussion among panelists including Prof. Assad, Ms. Kedroske, and Ms. Yousry alongside representatives from partner NGOs, Haidy Philip chairwomen of the board of trustees at the Egyptian Human Development Association NGO in Sohag, and Nasreldin Hamdy, Deputy Executive Director, at Giving Without Limits in Assiut.
Under the auspices of the Ministry of Social Solidarity and Governorates in Upper Egypt, and with the support of our partners, we at SFSD believe that the expected positive impact of the Bab Amal program will reach thousands of extremely poor households, supporting the lives of millions of marginalized families. We look forward to inviting our partners to learn from the results of the Bab Amal program and impact evaluation within the coming year. Upon demonstrating positive impacts, this program can be scaled up beyond Sohag and Assiut, and with the interest and support of the development community at large, we will deliver a sustainable pathway out and a “door of hope” to Egyptians looking to escape vicious extreme poverty traps.
For further reference to Bab Amal experts' presentation, use the links below:
For reference to first-hand success stories:
Farida is the Learning and Innovation Manager at the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development. Previously, she worked at the J-PAL MENA, a global research center, Ashoka Arab World, a networking platform for social entrepreneurs, AmCham Egypt, and Mavericks Schools. Farida's current interests lie in impact evaluation for education programs and using research and practice to help children learn better. (Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Yosra is the Social Empowerment Programs Officer at SFSD. Yosra has previously worked in SEED Program, USAID. Yosra holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Political Sciences from the British University in Egypt in 2017 and is currently pursuing a Master degree in Public Administration at UNICAF University. Yosra has been working in Socioeconomic Programs at SFSD and has been a part of Bab Amal Team since early 2019. (Contact: email@example.com)
Adham is the Learning & Innovations Officer at SFSD since 2022. Previously, Adham consulted on reform of G2B services delivery for the EBRD. Is an alumnus of the Danish Egyptian Dialogue Initiative DEDI and worked at the Egyptian National Competitiveness Council (ENCC). Adham Graduated in 2020 with an MA is Social & Political Thought from University of Sussex, UK, and holds a Bachelors of Arts in Political Sciences from the American University in Cairo in 2015 and is a strong advocate for ecological/circular economic policy and socioeconomic solidarity, inclusion and equality. (Contact:firstname.lastname@example.org)