As the world celebrated Saturday the World Cities Day, 1.5 million Egyptian citizens live in graves, as well as the presence of 1221 informal areas in Egypt, according to Atef Amin, Coordinator of Egyptian Coalition for Slums Development.
World Cities Day was established on 27 December 2013 by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/68/239, in which the General Assembly decided to designate 31 October as World Cities Day.
Commenting on the celebration, Amin said Egypt is far from celebrating because the government does not consider slums a fundamental problem.
Amin told Daily News Egypt that the issue of slums is exploited for propaganda, pointing to the political exploitation of slum-inhabitants, especially in the parliamentary election period. However, no fundamental reform takes place regarding the issue, he said.
“The government spends money to renovate slums from the outside by paving roads or installing lighting columns, but from the inside slums remain as they are, far from any aspects of civilisation or a decent living,” said Amin.
“There are more than 446 unsafe slums spread around the republic, of the total 1221 slums in Egypt.”
He added that there are 80 slum areas in Cairo alone, 14 of which are unsafe for living and their inhabitants live surrounding by railways. Moreover, they are not linked to water or sewerage networks, he noted. Amin explained that the number of slum-inhabitants has exceeded 23 million people.
Further, Amin pointed out that more than 60% of buildings in Egypt are built haphazardly.
Meanwhile, Yahia Shawkat, research director at 10 Tooba for Applied Research on the Built Environment, said according to UN Habitat indicators, the proportion of disadvantaged individuals in Egypt represents 17%, which is considered an improvement compared to previous years.
Shawkat however noted that this rate in inaccurate, as it comes as a result of changing the definition of disadvantaged areas, whereby the scale depended on measuring the services in both rural and urban areas, but now rural and urban areas are grouped together in terms of measuring the level of services. Thus, Egypt’s improved ranking came because services in urban areas are largely more available than the countryside, and as such measuring them together increased Egypt’s rank.
Shawkat noted that more than 50% of Egyptians are deprived of sewage services, while 1 million people are deprived of safe water sources, and 60% of properties are unsecure. These conditions should be grouped with other indicators in the calculation of the proportion of disadvantaged individuals in Egypt, he added.
He said the budget for new cities amounted to about EGP 62bn, while the budget for other urban areas in Egypt are estimated at EGP 40bn, which means this amount is spent on 98% of Egyptians, while the EGP 62bn are spent on only 2% of Egyptians.
Shawkat pointed out that there are no integrated programmes to end this crisis, but there are individual programmes developed in a number of specific areas.
He added that the social housing projects offered by the government do not contribute to solving the problem of slums because their terms do not suit slum-inhabitants.
The number of urban inhabitants in the world reached 3.9 billion people. More than half of those live in small towns, where populations do not exceed 500,000 people, while about 12% live in major cities (more than 10 million people).
Slum-inhabitants have reached 1 billion people worldwide (equivalent to one in every seven people). It is expected that this figure will reach 3 billion people by 2050, according to the United Nations.