Egypt's Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics reported last month that more than half the country's young people suffer from poverty, prompting researchers to seek solutions to the phenomenon.
The agency's report, issued in August on World Youth Day, said Egypt has 20 million young people between the ages of 18 and 29, comprising 24.3% of the total population in 2011.
At least 51% of these young people are impoverished, and 24.9% of them are unemployed, including 18.7% of young men and 44.6% of young women, the agency said.
"[Issues pertaining to] poverty and young people are among the most urgent issues facing the new government," said Dr. Sayed Abdul Ghani, who teaches economics at Ain Shams University. "These new figures are nothing but the outcome of years of accumulations, during which many factors contributed towards solidifying a culture of poverty in [Egyptian] society because of the frustration that prevailed among citizens, especially young people, as real jobs dried up and unemployment rose."
"The situation is quite dangerous because it concerns the future of Egypt in general," he said. "Solutions cannot come by way of temporary measures. Rather, we must return to the roots of the problem by establishing a culture of work to replace the apathy that came about as a result of unemployment."
According to Abdul Ghani, the most appropriate solution to the problem of poverty in Egypt involves launching small projects, providing young people with fast and accessible loans, and bringing them on board of planned projects that will be funded by foreign investments.
It is important to keep "proper awareness coupled with rigour in adhering to work laws and working hours while [simultaneously] keeping young people away from demonstrations and factional demands", he added.
Abdul Ghani suggested allocating young graduates and jobseekers monthly assistance allowances, which would help keep track of jobseekers and follow up on their progress.
This would also put pressure on ministries to provide these graduates employment as soon as possible, thus reducing government monthly expenses, he said.
Misbah Khair al-Din, from the research unit of the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics, told Al-Shorfa that Egypt's poverty rate varies in different areas of the country.
"Disparity is most apparent between cities and rural areas, where 54% of the population living in 1,141 poverty-stricken villages are poor," he said. "Poverty rates in rural areas constitute 42% of the total Egyptian population."
Conversely, "the poverty rate in cities amounts to about 7%", he added.
"Even in rural areas, poverty rates differ from one province to another," Khair al-Din said. "For example, three provinces in Upper Egypt - Assiut, al-Minya and Suhaj - have 794 villages where the poor constitute 82% of the total number of poor people in the countryside."
Dr. Bassema Hosni, sociology professor at Cairo University, said a person is defined as falling below the poverty line when he spend 50% more than his actual ability to spend given his earnings.
Solving the issue of poverty is linked to solving societal problems, especially those pertaining to education and medical care, she said.
"It is also impossible to get rid of high poverty rates unless social and class disparities as well as corruption are earnestly eliminated, [and unless we] completely restructure how the state budget is distributed in order to ensure social justice among citizens," Hosni told Al-Shorfa.
"It is important to create permanent jobs and reduce the wage gap," she said. "These should be associated with food security and with eradicating illiteracy, which has become a phenomenon among the new generation despite free education."
Hosni said it is important to empower youth and women by supporting their roles in society.
"If young people are one fourth of the population, women constitute half the population," she said. "Therefore, the solution lies in the hands of these two groups, which have yet to be tapped into."