This article argues that Egypt’s implementation of an economic reform and structural adjustment programme since 1991 has not led to a reduction of its hegemony over certain welfare services. Yet its role in the provision of free health and educational services has been drastically curtailed.
This is evident if the pre- and post adjustment situations are analysed in terms of the poor’s access to education and health services. The introduction of cost recovery measures has negatively impacted on the poor and increased their vulnerability to exploitation by exposing them to a wide range of ‘hidden’ and informal fees. Further, the introduction of special policies designed to mitigate the rising costs of education and health care are not being implemented due to a set of institutional and political reasons. The consequences of the increasing privatisation of educational and health services on the poor are examined by looking at the detail of those living in the densely populated community of Bulaq el Dakrour in Cairo.