The National Alliance for Civil Development Work (NACDW) is scheduled to launch the Shoulder to Shoulder initiative on Friday, which will distribute more than four million food boxes to needy people nationwide before the advent of Ramadan.
The initiative, kicking off from the Cairo Stadium, is in line with government goals to provide social protection for the neediest groups in society and alleviate the burden of the global economic crunch resulting from the surging wave of inflation, the repercussions of the Russia-Ukraine war, and the subsequent price hikes.
Secretary of the NACDW Noha Talaat said a group of NGOs working under the umbrella of the alliance was taking part in the initiative, adding that its goal is to ensure food security for poorer families during the Ramadan season, especially amid the present difficult economic conditions and low purchasing power.
The initiative targets distributing 4.5 million food boxes to underprivileged families across Egypt with a total budget exceeding LE3 billion, she told Al-Ahram Weekly. The funding was collected through donations from the public, businessmen, and NGOs.
Egypt’s border governorates are prioritised, and the alliance visited South Sinai, North Sinai, Marsa Matrouh, and the New Valley earlier this month to distribute food boxes to residents of these remote areas, Talaat said.
While the initiative is set to be launched officially on Friday, activities have already started in 16 governorates: Cairo, Giza, Qalioubiya, Gharbiya, Menoufiya, Sharqiya, Daqahliya, Kafr Al-Sheikh, Beheira, Alexandria, Ismailia, Fayoum, Beni Sweif, Sohag, Luxor, and Aswan.
“Volunteers have a crucial role to play in the initiative, starting with compiling lists of the families most in need, packaging boxes, and distributing them,” Talaat said. In 2022, more than 250,000 volunteers participated in NACDW activities, 40,000 of whom are taking part in Shoulder to Shoulder this year.
“The alliance has a database of needy families, and so we can ensure that each family receives one box and that we don’t miss anybody,” Talaat said.
After distributing the food boxes, the initiative will hold Iftar banquets, where cooked food is offered for free at the time of breaking the fast throughout the month of Ramadan in all the governorates, she added.
Last Ramadan, the alliance launched its first initiative, Deliver Good, which kick-started a series of events meant to provide protection for underprivileged groups. This was followed by Shelter and Wellness and Charity Train campaigns, as well as by medical convoys operating throughout the year to deliver social protection, healthcare, and humanitarian services to the neediest.
The NACDW was launched in March 2022 after President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi declared 2022 the Year of NGOs. It comprises 25,000 civil and development associations across Egypt, including the General Federation of Non-Governmental Associations, with 30 national federations and 27 regional federations as members working in the fields of development, services, healthcare, awareness, education, and urban development.
The alliance has bigger plans to help to economically empower people in need, Talaat said. “But we separate charity interventions, where assistance is delivered immediately, and economic empowerment.”
Some 340,000 families receive monthly assistance from the NACDW, including families that are unable to work, widows, people with disabilities, and the elderly. Meanwhile, families that are able to work are enrolled in the NACDW’s plan for economic empowerment, Talaat said.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 16 March, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly