CAIRO: The problems of unemployment and housing currently facing young people in Egypt should be resolved through expansion in the desert and building new settlements there, stressed a desert expert.
Mostafa Saed, of the Desert Research Centre in Cairo, who has drafted plans to build several such settlements, underlined that to tackle the issues of unemployment and housing by adding new constructions in the capital and its outskirts, is likely to aggravate the crisis.
“To carry on with raising more buildings will definitely end in disaster, warned Saed. “A city crowded out by construction would simply translate into lack of jobs and absence of scope for manpower skills and abilities, he explained.
“This is because the buildings are mostly used as residences and hardly would there be any work opportunities for the regular inflow of migrants from the provinces, he added.
Saed pointed out that the present construction boom in Egypt has been carried out without paying the least attention to the topographical nature of Egypt, predominately consisting of desert, besides the Nile and the sea.
“The policy has resulted in these population explosions around the Nile and other coastal areas that are easily supplied with water. Now there could be some water, lodgings but no jobs.
Using his expertise as a desert researcher, Saed has blueprinted a project aimed at setting up 300 desert units to be constructed on an area of 1,000 acres.
Each unit will be raised on an area of three acres. The remaining 100 acres will be used to provide necessary services and facilities like schools, health centers, a club, and mosque.
Saed elaborated: “300 young people will be selected according to special criteria to populate the settlements. They will be divided into 10 groups each consisting of 30 individuals that will be allocated 90 acres (three acres for each).
” Fortunately, the Egyptian desert is highly reclaimable, especially in Sinai and the Western Desert that is located on the largest underground water reserve in the world, which encompasses Egypt, Libya, Chad and Sudan, said Saed.
He added: “Some experts come across a well while doing research or drilling, but they simply block it under the pretext that it should be reserved for the coming generations.
“It’s a wrong theory, argues Saed. There is no guarantee that the wells would not be consumed sooner or later by neighboring countries. “Also studies haven’t proven whether these springs are naturally renewable or not. It is better to make use of that water immediately.
According to Saed, the fault with other projects is that they did not aim to establish full-fledged units that would consider all other activities besides agriculture.
“I have called attention to the fact that, apart from farming, each unit should be occupied with another related activity, be it fishing, decorative plants, silks, animal and chicken farming, dairy products and others that should flourish as per the optimal environmental factors in each area.
Saed said that his project should be preceded by intensive study and training, but he regretted the absence of coordination among research centers in the country.
“Some of the researches of these centers have yielded amazing results, but they should be updated since many were conducted decades ago. We should also consider the environmental changes that have taken place during the last few years.