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Improving Informal Areas in Greater Cairo

The cases of Ezzbet Al Nasr & Dayer El Nahia

Fokdahl, Josefine (Editor); Zehner, Carsten (Editor)

The growth of informal settlements is a major concern in many cities of the Global South. Therefore, one of urban planning’s biggest challenges is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the complex characteristics of informal growth and livelihoods in informal areas in order to develop integrated and sustainable solutions. In this regard, the Greater Cairo Metropolitan Region is an extreme case. Almost half of the built-up area is estimated to be informal. Providing shelter for the growing urban population, informal areas have grown for decades as a consequence of the chronic lack of affordable housing. At the same time, informal areas in Greater Cairo demonstrate complex problems: e.g. loss of valuable agricultural land, illegal tenure, unsafe building conditions, poverty and a lack of public infrastructure and services. However, it is important to recognise that informal areas also provide valuable livelihoods for their residents as an essential basis for income generation, social networks and community life. The Participatory Development Programme in Urban Areas (PDP), an Egyptian-German development project implemented by the Egyptian Ministry of Economic Development (MoED) as the lead executing agency in cooperation with the German Technical Cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit GmbH, GTZ) and the German Development Bank (KfW Entwicklungsbank), with financial assistance by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), aims at strengthening capacities of all involved stakeholders and to equip them with the necessary tools and means for successful intervention in informal areas. In order to achieve this, GTZ works on three levels (national, regional and local) to provide support for policy reform, strategy formulation as well as implementation. Within the framework of the PDP, seventeen international participants of the post-graduate Urban Management Master Programme (class 2009/2010) of the Technical University of Berlin (TU Berlin) were invited by GTZ to Cairo from April 27 - May 6, 2010 and given the great opportunity to work as young expert consultants. The interdisciplinary expertise offers a valuable basis for critical reflections and inputs on the current discussion about informal areas in Greater Cairo and especially the activities of the PDP in the urban sector. The publication presents the results of the two week field trip in Cairo. The first chapter outlines the current academic discourse on the most relevant topics for this task: Informality, Intervention and Participation. The second chapter introduces Greater Cairo and the mechanisms affecting informal areas as well as government responses. Furthermore, the context of the PDP is analysed followed by a reflection on the categorisation approach and the proposal of qualitative complementation. The third chapter documents the two case studies and provides findings from fieldwork as well as the intervention proposals. This report aims for extensive dissemination and integration in follow-up activities through the PDP contributing to awareness-raising on relevant issues and enhancing public awareness for the project.