Urban planners, architects, academics, civil society activists, sociologists, and state planner discuss Egypt's growing informal housing crisis.
In an attempt to tackle the issue of informal housing in Egypt, primarily following the January 25 Revolution, a joint workshop initiative was held on Monday by the French Centre for Social, Judicial and Economic Documentation (CEDEJ), UN-Habitat and the German Agency for International Cooperation’s (GIZ) Participator Development Programme in Urban Areas.
The workshop, held at the French Cultural Centre in Mounira, Cairo, was attended by approximately eighty people, including urban planners, architects, sociologists, economists, and government representatives, all dealing with the issue of informal housing in Egypt.
The 'Egypt Urban Futures' workshop tackled the issue of informal housing—more commonly referred to as ashwaiyat (random) settlements—from a number of different perspectives.
Regina Kipper of GIZ said the main objective of the workshop was to launch a new platform on the urban future of Egypt and its challenges since 2011, by promoting dialogue between civil society, private and public institutions and academics in attempting to work towards sustainable development.
Dina Shehayeb of the Housing and Building National Research Centre provided a brief overview of informal housing in Cairo, stating the phenomenon goes back to the 1950s when there was a major wave of urbanisation, mostly due to the dismantling of the agricultural economy and the increased industrialisation.
Shedding light on more recent statistics, urban consultant David Sims, the author of Understanding Cairo: The Logic of a City Out of Control (2011), stressed there had been an exponential increase in the rate of informal housing in Egypt in recent years. For example, in Geziret El-Warraq in Giza the post-revolution rate of population growth has increased four and a half times compared to its pre-revolution rate, Sims said.