Slum life in egypt

Falling down of massive rocks on the houses in Diweqa, 2008

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Falling down of massive rocks on the houses in Diweqa, 2008
iweqa is a part of Manshiyat Naser, one of the biggest slums in Cairo. Manshiyat Naser dwellers are estimated by one million people. Diweqa is located next to Moqattam Hills, and the houses are very weak; most houses are huts and mud bricks’ houses. People in Diweqa and Manshiyat Naser are very poor and most of them work in very low jobs. Mjority of Mnshiyat Naser’s dwellers are dustmen.

On September 9, 2008, massive rocks fell down from Moqattam Hills on the huts of Diweqa area. 100 houses and huts were totaled destroyed. 107 people were killed under the rocks and 58 people were injured according to the official number, however, the unofficial recourses including media, civil society and Diweqa people indicated that the number of victims is more than 300 people. The army and the civil defense elements spent more than 4 days looking for bodies of people under rubbles. Although it was not the first time to happen these kinds of catastrophes, it happened because negligence of government. In 1993, the rock collapse had happened in the same district in an area is called Ezbet El-zabaleen.7

People in Diweqa have complained many times from the government performance. Many people in slums think that the government does not take care about them because they are poor. They observed that the government has a study since 1993 refers to the collapse of the hills, but it has not taken any forward step to protect their life.


T. Scarlett Epstein and David Jezeph ( 2001) on their paper which is called “There is Another Way: A Rural–Urban Partnership Development Paradigm” Emphasized on the importance of rural development . It is mentioned that trough rural development, local resources can be more effective. Through appropriate use of local resources such as land, job opportunities will be increased and it helps on agricultural productivity and establishing of agro industries. It is further stated that with urban -rural partnership, this aim will be addressed and both urban and rural areas will be benefited. It also effects on rural immigration to cities. With providing job opportunities in rural areas with accessibility of valuable local resources, it is more probability that rural people don’t immigrant to urban and it will effect on the population balance among rural and urban and preventing of creating slums in urban.

Upgrading slums is the fundamental requirement for improving dweller’s life conditions. Many countries have considered good policy options and implemented appropriate management for upgrading slums. According to UN habitat (2010) Colombia, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico were very successful in upgrading slums “account for 79 per cent of the region’s estimated improvements in the lives of slum dwellers that among these, Argentina and Colombia have proved the more successful, reducing by two-fifths their slum population thanks to improved housing and better access to water and sanitation”.

Further it is mentioned that Colombia could improve 3.7 million slum dwellers’ life by allocating appropriate upgrading programs. It is estimated such kind of strategies could help on lowering “ slum prevalence from 22.3 per cent in the year 2000 to an estimated 13.5 per cent in 2010”. (UN Habitat 2010)

There have been many successful slums upgrading projects. Distribution of land is a fundamental need for slum upgrading. There have been many cases in this regards and the most successful cases have been found in Brazil where slums dwellers have been provided with the right to access to the land, so they can find themselves as the owner of the land and they try to work on their property. Land distribution not only increase economic growth but it also effects on poverty reduction.

According to UN Habitat, Brazil is one of the successful countries in land tenure regularization. Adopting such kind of policies could improve living condition of “10.4 million people between the year 2000 and 2010, as slum incidenc that could be benefit in a decreasing population growth rate and slowing rural-urban migration”. (UN Habitat 2010).

Anne Baverel in his titled “Best Practices in Slum Improvement: The Case of Casablanca” Mentioned about living conditions of slums dwellers. Lack of basic services such as sanitation, safe water, security and poor quality of housing are some of problems which slum dwellers are facing. There have been housing upgrading programs in Maracco which has been lunched in 2004 and was planned to improve the life conditions of “293,000 households in 83 towns and cities” (Ministry of Housing, Habitat et Urbanisme 2003-2007).

For this programs three principals have been implemented including “ city Contract”, close coordination and collaboration with private sector in housing supply and increase in housing stock.

There is another successful case for improving life conditions of slum dwellers in Bangladesh. Slum improvement project in Bangladesh has been implemented in two phases. First part could affect positively on slum life conditions of 57 slums in 5 towns and second one conducted in 25 towns. The fundamental key in this project was a strong linkage between urban and slums. This project was focused on connecting urban services with slums and increased the capacity of institution to work with slum dwellers. So through this program slum dwellers could access to health services, adequate sanitation and improve physical slums environment including upgraded footpaths, roads tube wells and so on. Through providing credit and saving system, poor families could increase their family income. Awareness campaigns was included in this program which was focused on the importance of sanitation , health care and community participation.

Prof. Akhtar Chauhan, FIIA, in his conference conducted 2013 explained more about slums and problems. He mentioned that slums are created because of lack of not appropriated policy intervention. He stated that sums are the most serious problems in both developed and developing countries that must be considered.

According to National Commission on Urbanization which “estimated that in 1981 out of the total urban population of 160 million, 32 to 40 million people or 6 to 8 million household were living in slums which worked out to 20 – 25% of the urban population. Since then, it has gone up to 30 to 50 % in different large cities and metropolitan agglomeration. It was projected that by 2001, there would be 60 to 75 million people living in slums in India!”

According to National Commission on Urbanization, considering housing and infrastructure is more effective than mere welfare approach. So housing can be included with other services such as sewerage, water and electricity and it should provide adequate living space for all family members and easy access to workplace.

Prof. Akhtar Chauhan, FIIA also mentioned some issues about slums and its living conditions and housing as the fundamental need for human. He stated that living spaces in slums are not enough for all members of family. The location is too small. According to him” slums use up to 80% of the land as ground-coverage for their housing. This enables them to have much higher densities without going higher than ground plus one or half storey”.

He also further pointed out that slums dwellers do not have access to basic services such as water; sanitation; electricity and building material of their houses are not standard. He mentioned “development and maintenance of slums calls for on-going collective organization of land development, shelter-making, obtaining basic services and ensuring social security. It is a positive expression of people’s participation in development process”. He also emphasised on sustainable issue as the core of slums. At the end he emphasised on creating humane habitat which can be found in “understanding, planning, designing, building and managing the minimum shelters of the slum dwellers and the rural communities”


According to the Egyptian Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics, Egypt has started implementing development’s plans for the slums since 1993. The Egyptian plan included three stages; the first one covers 11 governorates; Cairo, Alexandra, Qalyubia, Giza, Beni Suef, Minia, Faiyum, Suhaj‎, Assiut, Qena and Aswan. The number of slums in those governorates was 600 areas in that time, 1993. In 1998/1999, the second stage has been started by five additional governorates. They are Sharqia, Kafr el-Sheikh, Gharbia, Minufiyah and Beheira. The number of slums’ areas in those governorates was 315 in 1998. In 2002/2003, the third stage has been started by adding four more governorates. They are Damietta, Dakahlia, Red Sea, and Luxor. The number of the covered slums in this stage was 235 areas in 2002.

After implementing that plan, 340 slum’s areas have been developed distributed in these 14 governorates: 13 areas in Giza, 9 areas in Qalyubia, 5 areas in Alexandria, 13 areas in Beheira, 2 area in Minufiyah, 19 areas in Gharbia, 18 areas in Beni Suef, 84 areas in Assiut, 45 areas in Suhaj, 66 areas in Qena, and 33 areas in Aswan.

According to the Egyptian Central Auditing Organization, the total investments in the development plan from 1993 to 2007 are 3.1 Billion Egyptian bounds (About 564 Million USD). The amount was distributed to the three stages relatively as: 1611.4 million Egyptian bounds (293 Million USD), 744 million Egyptian bounds (117 million USD), and 748.8 million Egyptian bounds (136 million USD).

Another very good policy is the housing policy to solve the housing crisis in Egypt. During 1970s and 1980s, the government established new cities in the desert. These cities had significant impact on the prices of the houses and apartments. The prices of the housing and rent became much reasonable. This was a good policy at the beginning, but during the late years, so many slums have been established within and around these cities, such as Sadat City, The 10th of Ramadan, Al-Abour, 6 October and etc.

Saudi Arabia

In Riyadh, the local government applies very strong controlling procedures to stop establishing any new slums. The Facility of the Old Buildings’ Expropriation checks the buildings in the capital and takes decisions for the old buildings in order to destroy or develop them. When the Facility of the Old Buildings’ Expropriation describes a building as a slum, the police starts to implement the policy of expropriation for that building. The Hira is located in the center of Riyadh. Its size is 750 thousands meters square. The Hira had been a slum until the Facility of the Old Buildings’ Expropriation developed it.

As Medina is a holly city for the Muslims from Saudi Arabia and All over the world, it requires a special care. The local government requires special characteristics of the buildings in order to give the licensees for the new buildings. The new buildings’ characteristics must match with the historical and religious consideration for the city of Madina.

Jeddah is known as the city of slums in Saudi Arabia. More than 50 % of its neighborhoods are slums. Jeddah has 106 neighborhoods; 55 of them are slums. The slums in Jeddah have been grown very fast, because of dawdle developing the first 4 slums in the city; Ghaleel, Althaalba, Alsabeer and Kuits. So that the government started concerning about the issue of slums in Jeddah. The local government of Jeddah established the Jeddah for Development and Urbanization Development Company to be responsible for implanting the policies and strategies decided to improve the slums in the city. Because of the lack of the fund from the government, the company cooperates with private investors to buy some of the slums’ lands for their potential investments. By this policy, they could secure the needed money for developing the slums in Jeddah.

The process of developing any slum goes through five stages:

1- The first stage: in this stage, the committee checks all the buildings and evaluates each building to know its value. After that the committee starts to offer three options for the owners to indemnity. The owner can select to use the value of its building to buy stocks from the government company, get cash money or sell his priority for the others (investor or government).

2- The second stage: this is the planning stage. The developer private company prepares the first designing plan for the committee. Then the committee writes its suggestions and remarks and returns them back to the company to prepare the final design.

3- The third stage: the developer company coordinates with the committee and police to evacuate and demolish the buildings. The company must tell the dwellers the date of evacuation and the time from the informing them for the demolishing must be less than one year. After that the company destroys the buildings and prepares the site to start rebuilding it.

4- The forth stage: the committee sells the lands allocated for private investors to use them in their investing projects. After finishing selling these lands for the investors, the investors start building on the lands and use their sites.

5- The fifth stage: it is the last stage. In this stage, the company builds housings for the people regarding to the timely schedule provided to the committee in the time of signing the contract.

The experience of improving slums in Jordan has done a significant success and a small failure. The Jordan policy has depended on selling the lands for the slums’ dwellers. Al-Wihdat Al- Sharqiya was a slums neighborhood. Its size is 9.1 hectares, and its dwellers are 5030 people in 1985. It included 524 houses. They were built from zinc and other bad material. The houses were built on lands squatters. The dwellers suffered from so many healthy and environmental problem because of the bad condition of their houses. Their houses did not save them from raining, cold weather or the dangerous insects.

The government valued the prices of the lands and offered people to buy the lands under an easy payment system. The dwellers paid 5% of the prices of their lands when they signed the contract and they paid the rest of the amount by monthly settlements. The monthly settlement must be equal 25% of the family’s income according to the government policy and estimating for the income of the families. This policy encouraged so many families to buy the lands and start building their houses regarding to the new design of the neighborhood provided by the government. People sold their gold and galleries to buy the lands and build their houses on them.

This policy was very good regarding securing fund from the people and encourages them to participate in the policy by their own money. In other hands, it had also a disadvantage. People who did not have money were excluded from this program. This policy helped the middle income rather than the low income dwellers.

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