The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) launched Saturday an interactive website dedicated to recording deaths, injuries and displacement from building collapses in Egypt.
The site, compiled with the blog, Shadow Ministry of Housing, currently contains statistics from July 2012 to June 2013. A total of 387 collapses were recorded which resulted in 183 dead, 375 injured and 815 displaced families.
In a statement, Yahia Shawkat, EIPR Housing and Land Rights Researcher and creator of Shadow Ministry of Housing said there was “a need to gather accurate information about the [buildings that] are prone to collapse, and radical solutions to safeguard the safety of the population.”
This was particularly so after a July 2012 building collapse in Alexandria that killed 20 people.
The statement also noted that there are various laws to prevent the construction of unsafe buildings, but little government oversight allows construction to continue unchecked leading to “catastrophic” incidents.
Collapses due to negligence or lack of oversight were responsible for 90% of deaths. A lack of maintenance, categorized as a subset of “lack of oversight”, caused 29% of the collapses and was responsible for 36% of the total number of deaths.
EIPR’s research suggested that negligence during construction or during repair or modification led to 52% of the total 387 collapses. Of collapses due to negligence or lack of oversight, 90% of those involved died. A lack of maintenance caused 29% of the collapses in which 36% of the people in the building died.
The EIPR study also found significant shortcomings in urban planning and development, especially in relation to sewage systems in rural areas, and less forseeable incidents like explosions of gas cylinders.
The statement notes that Egyptian construction laws stipulate that a fund must exist to finance renovation and maintenance of dilapidated buildings. This also provides alternative housing for those living in structurally unsound buildings.
EIPR intends to release a comprehensive study on “the phenomenon of building collapses” in the coming months.
A November signed in November by eight NGOs, including the Egyptian Centre for Social and Economic Rights (ECESR) and the EIPR, said the state has continued to abandon its commitment towards providing appropriate housing for impoverished and low income people.
The NGOs say official estimates indicate that around 20 million, 23% of the population, live in 1,125 informal or unplanned settlements.