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Eliminating Slums is a Real Investment for Egyptian Economy

Slums are a global phenomenon that exists in most societies. It began as an urban phenomenon, but they cannot be separated from the social and economic conditions of the state. Despite the spread of slum areas in Egypt, it did not receive sufficient attention from the state until after the 1992 Cairo earthquake.

The “New Republic” was strongly aware of the problem of informal housing and its dangerous repercussions, deriving from the revolution of June 30, 2013, considering it one of the urgent issues that needs a comprehensive confrontation to limit its spread and address its negative effects on the future of development in all its fields.

This paper addresses the issue of slums in Egypt, the extent of their impact on the national economy, and the role of the state in confronting it, through several axes.

First: the concept of slums

There are multiple definitions of “slums” around the world, but everyone agrees that slum areas are illegal and unplanned areas.

For example, the World Bank defines slums as “informal areas that suffer from some problems such as high population density and insufficient infrastructure and services.”

According to the United Nations, slums are “dilapidated and old areas located within the city or squatter colonies that occupy the outskirts of cities outside the urban plan.”

The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics defines slum areas as: “those areas that were established by self-effort on the lands of their owners or on state lands without official licenses, and lack basic services and facilities.”

Second: the development of slums in Egypt and the reasons for their appearance

The population of slums in Egypt is 22 million people living in 88 slums nationwide, and the total area of slums in the Republic is 160.8 thousand acres, representing 38.6% of the urban mass of the cities of the Republic (37.6% unplanned areas, 1% unsafe areas).

-The areas of the informal areas in the governorates of Sohag, Sharqiya, and Beni Suef represent the highest at the level of the governorates of the Republic with percentages of “71.1%, 5%, and 65.3%, respectively.
-The percentage of slums represents about 39% of the total urban mass of the Republic and is spread in 226 cities .
-There are only 8 cities free of slums, distributed as follows: “two cities in Suez governorate, and the same in Sharqiya, and 3 cities in Kafr el Sheikh, and one city in Giza governorate .

-Alexandria governorate occupies the first place in terms of the prevalence of slums, where the area of slums with 1 thousand acres amounted to 12.5% of the total area .

-Cairo governorate comes in second place with an area of 4 thousand acres by 12%, followed by Giza governorate with 15.5 thousand acres and 9.6% of the total area of informal areas .

-The percentage of the area of unsafe informal areas in Cairo and Ismailia governorates is 7% of the total area of unsafe areas at the level of the Republic .

-Unsafe informal areas with the second degree of danger come in first place, with 251 areas .

– The total area of unplanned informal areas reached 156.3 thousand acres representing 97.2% of the total total area.

-The area of unplanned informal areas in the three governorates (Alexandria – Cairo – Giza) is the highest at the governorate level, with a percentage of (12.8%، 11.8%، 9.8%) on the order of the total area of the unplanned regions of the Republic.

– The total number of unsafe informal areas in the governorates reached 351, occupying about 4.5 thousand acres, representing 2.8% of the total area of informal areas. As of 2014, Cairo governorate ranked first in the number of unsafe areas in Egypt with about 56 areas representing 15.4% of the total of those areas in all of Egypt.

– The total number of random markets in the Republic amounted to 1099 markets in 2015 containing 305.6.

The reasons for the emergence of slums in Egypt :-

– Rising prices for apartments

– Increasing childbearing and not keeping up with the pace of construction of new housing units for accelerated population growth .

-Leniency in the treatment of violators of State territory by officials and government agencies .
– Poor urban planning and lack of provision of basic services in some areas.

Third: The danger of slums

1-Social problems

– Low educational level and high illiteracy rate(29%), as well as low rates of middle and university education.
-43% in unsafe slums, and 37% in unplanned slums, suffer from deprivation of education, which has led to children dropping out of education and increasing the rate of child labor and their enrollment in inappropriate jobs.

– spread of “early marriage”(34%).

– spread of poverty and the rise in crime as a result of high unemployment rates.

-Slums in Cairo Governorate lack basic facilities such as electricity, water, and sanitation. All of these violations have led to an increase in crime rates.

2-Health problems

– Lack of availability of hospitals and medical centers.
– The spread of many diseases as a result of the lack of provision of clean water and sanitation.

3-Economic problems

– The agricultural area is shrinking due to the random urban encroachment on it.
– Increasing pressure on utility networks, infrastructure, roads and transportation.
– High unemployment rates in various forms.
– Building on agricultural land and converting it to residential land, which negatively affects the national income for agriculture.

Fourth: Slums and their economic challenges

Slum areas constitute a major obstacle to the economies of countries because they lack any proper urban planning, which causes massive chaos that impedes transportation and constitutes a huge burden on the city’s infrastructure, giving priority to slum dwellers for housing and shelter and not proximity to work.

The lack of adequate health and sanitation services, the spread of environmental pollution, high crime and corruption rates make slums a fertile environment for diseases, epidemics and social problems and increase the suffering of their residents, which contributes to increasing the burden on the state due to therapeutic and social costs.

Fifth: The state’s achievements in developing slums

The state has provided many successful models in developing slums. It has developed and created safe housing integrated with services and equipped for citizens who were living in inhumane areas that are not suitable for life.

Some of the state’s projects to eliminate slums are as follows:

State efforts to eliminate unsafe areas:
About 2 million citizens benefit from it, with a total of 246 thousand housing units, at a cost of 63 billion pounds, with 33 unsafe areas of the first class, 269 unsafe areas of the second class, 34 unsafe areas of the third class, and 21 unsafe areas of the fourth class. These areas include 54 districts in Cairo.

The state’s efforts in the development of unplanned areas:

The cost of upgrading the efficiency of infrastructure in unplanned areas reaches 318 billion pounds.56 unplanned areas have been developed with an area of 4,616 feddans, serving about 460 thousand families, while 79 areas are being developed with an area of 6,941 feddans, serving about 690 thousand families.

-Social Housing Project “Ahalena 1” in El-Salam 1 District, Cairo

The project was established on an area of 11 feddans and consists of 25 residential buildings, each building has 12 floors and each floor contains 4 residential units with an area of 90 meters with an electric elevator for each building. 32 housing units of them have been allocated for people with special needs. Ramps and wide doors were made specially for them. An electrical network and 1121 electricity meters for residential and administrative units, a water supply network, a 1,100 cubic meter tank to serve the project, two sewerage and rain networks were established. There is also a fire network for all residential, administrative and service buildings. 4 water wells to irrigate green areas were established as well. A shopping mall and 84 stores of various sizes were built so as to provide job opportunities for the residents of the region. A primary school with a total of 28 classrooms was fully finished and equipped. Moreover, the project includes an integrated medical center for health care services, a mosque that takes up to 500 persons and 18 workshops to provide job opportunities for women and men in this project.

Ahalena 2 in El-Salam 1 District, Cairo

The project cost 700 million pounds, and included 34 buildings, each building containing 12 floors, and each floor containing 4 units, for a total of 1,632 residential units. The project also includes 4 commercial malls, 176 commercial stores with an area of 45 square meters each, a basic education school with 33 classrooms, and a youth center on an area of 7,300 square meters.


2-Rawdat Al Sayeda, launched in 2016, was a very dangerous slum called Tal Al Aqareb (Arabic for the Hill of the Scorpions) encompassing huts and houses vulnerable to collapse.

The first phase consists of 16 five-storey buildings having a total of 816 residential units. The alternative-housing project is also earthquake-resistant, given it lies 11 meters above the surface of the rest of the area. The cost of the project is LE330 million, and it also houses 198 commercial units

The second phase is being implemented in the Fatimid architectural style. This project is located on an area of about 6 feddans, and it consists of 9 residential buildings, each building consisting of a ground floor and 5 floors.

Sixth: The vision of international institutions for the Egyptian state’s efforts to eliminate informal housing

The Human Development Report issued by the United Nations in 2021 pointed to the interest of the Egyptian leadership in the file of slum development as one of its most important priorities, in contrast to what was stated in its report in 2010, which indicated that slum areas lack the minimum standards of organization and security.
In 2023, the World Food Program confirmed that there is integration in sustainable development policies in Egypt, and the Decent Life initiative has proven the Egyptian integrated approach to development, as it included the rehabilitation of infrastructure, improving access to basic and health services to improve the quality of life in the poorest villages in marginalized rural areas

Egypt advanced in global indicators after the extent of its achievement in developing slums, according to the World Bank’s classification of Egypt in the “slum population as a proportion of urban population” index. It also jumped 13 places in the social risks index for the year 2021, including the real growth rate of the gross domestic product per capita, and the participation of… Labor force, trust in government, public social spending, political stability, and others.

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