On World Cities Day, 26m Egyptians live in informal areas: urban activist

Shaimaa Al-Aees
4 Min Read
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. (DNE Photo)

As the world celebrated World Cities Day on Saturday, 1.5 million Egyptian citizens live in graves, while there are 1,221 informal areas in Egypt in which 26 million people live, according to Atef Amin, coordinator of the 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 since haphazard building numbers are growing to reach 70%.

He explained that the increase in haphazard building is due to corruption in localities and the non-application of laws.

Amin told Daily News Egypt that there are 252 unsafe slums in Egypt, which include one million people of people.

Amin added that there are 16 buildings with 1,500 families living in very dangerous areas in Sayeda Zainab, Cairo.

On the other hand, the government exerted great efforts to absorb those people in safe and healthy areas, such as Al Asmarat1 and Al Samarat 2. However, there are about 71 unsafe slum areas, including 14 areas that are not able to be developed and are threatened by collapse.

He pointed out that the social housing projects launched by the government are great, but they cannot help in reducing the slum areas in the country because the conditions of booking units, such as insurance and a stable salary. Most of those people are craftsmen and owners of free professions who don’t have a stable salary.

“The country needs to provide about 500,000 units annually to absorb those people,” Amin added. “Furthermore, the government has to extend the urban development in new places, as Egyptians lie on only 7% of the land.”

He praised the government’s launching of the New Administrative Capital project, as is a great civilisation front for Egypt, but this city will not eliminate the slums.

Meanwhile, Yahia Shawkat, research director at 10 Tooba for Applied Research on the Built Environment, said 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 proportion of urban population living in slum areas in Egypt was 10.6% in 2014, according to the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

UN-Habitat added that the share in national urban population in Egypt reached 51.4% in Cairo in 2015 and 13.1% in Alexandria, which is expected to remain the same in 2025.

Meanwhile, urban population reached 36.538% in 2015 and is expected to reach 43.610% in 2025. Egypt’s level of urbanisation was 43.1% in 2015 and is expected to grow to 45% in 2025.

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.

The top 600 cities, with 1/5th of the world’s population, produce 60% of global GDP. However, when unplanned and unmanaged, urbanisation can lead to increased inequality, the growth of slums and disastrous impacts on climate change, according to the World Cities Report 2016.

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