CAIRO – Cairo’s population is set to grow by 500,000 this year, more than any other city in the world, adding to the pressure on an Egyptian economy struggling to recover from six years of political turmoil.
Greater Cairo, a metropolitan area including Cairo and parts of the Giza and Qalyubia provinces, is home to some 22.8 million people and will gain another half a million in 2017, a Euromonitor International report released last week shows.
That represents a quarter of Egypt’s 92 million. The national natural population growth of 2.4 percent per year is double the average of other developing countries, said Mohamed Abdelgalil, adviser to official statistics agency CAPMAS.
Stinging poverty in southern Egypt leads many families to have several children in the hope they can become sources of income. Those children eventually migrate to larger cities for job opportunities scarce in their hometowns.
“In rural areas, and in the south in particular, poor families have many children because they see these children as a safety net,” Maysa Shawky, the head of the National Population Council, told Reuters in an interview.
“Also, many of them have daughters until they have sons,” she added. “They want to produce breadwinners – instead of hiring a worker, they could have their children help them.”
Shawky said awareness campaigns at universities and schools have begun as part of a national population strategy.