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Egypt's Social Solidarity Ministry criticised for plans to distribute leftover food after COP27

An Egyptian man weighs potatoes at a market in Cairo, Egypt on 17 March 2022 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images]
An Egyptian man weighs potatoes at a market in Cairo, Egypt on 17 March 2022 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images]

Egypt's Ministry of Social Solidarity has said that it will package the leftover food at the end of the upcoming UN climate summit in November and distribute it to poor people in the country to prevent food waste.

Preventing food waste is a key part of fighting climate change with an estimated one third of all food produced going to waste.

Assistant Minister of Solidarity for Civil Work, Ahmed Saada, said in a TV interview that 1,000 young volunteers will pack and wrap the food not touched by attendees and distribute it through civil society charities.

He added that the summit is an opportunity for young people to learn more about climate change: "The volunteers will participate in various parts of the conference, including achieving sustainability and reducing waste."

However, online, commentators have criticised the Egyptian government for failing its poorest people – in Egypt, one-third of people live in poverty.

READ: Activists criticise $100m of British investment in Egypt as 'greenwashing'

For example, why has Egypt requested foreign funding to support the conference only to spend it on food which is likely to be wasted, one social media user asked.

Human rights organisations have accused Egypt of using COP27 to greenwash its reputation as a serial human rights violator by deflecting criticism and syphoning off foreign funds.

The government has been accused of using its plan to prevent food waste as a PR stunt ahead of the summit, given that it has placed extreme pressure on human rights groups in the lead-up to the conference.

According to a recent Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, Egyptian authorities have "imposed arbitrary funding, research and registration obstacles that have debilitated local environmental groups."

Of the 13 activists, academics, scientists, and journalists working on rights issues in Egypt HRW interviewed, all described a shrinking space for the independent environment and climate work since Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi rose to power in 2014.

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