Slums in Egypt

Many describe slums in Egypt as ticking time bombs waiting to go off at any minute. Studies provide conflicting reports about the number of slum areas and their populations. A study conducted by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) stated that the number of slums in Egypt amounted to1,221 areas among which 20 have been called for removal because they are not fit for development. However, the Information and Decision Support Centre attached to the Ministers' Cabinet estimated their number to be nearly 1,034 while the National Planning Institute confirmed the existence of over 1,109 slums covering 20 governorates occupied by 70.17 million inhabitants.

A report by CAPMAS revealed 14 million Egyptians live in cemeteries, huts, and mosques – particularly in cemeteries at Basateen, Imam Shafi'e, Bab El-Wazeer, El-Ghafeer, El-Megawereen, Imam Lethee, Ain Shams, and Nasr City.

The General Authority for Urban Planning had developed a national programme to eradicate slums by the year 2025 at a total cost of over 5 billion dollars (over 30 billion pounds). At the same time, a study conducted by the Egyptian Centre for Housing Rights confirmed that 5 million housing units were needed to accommodate the expected population increase in Egypt up till the year 2020. The overall estimated cost of these units is 117 billion pounds.

A study conducted by the National Research Centre confirmed an increase in asthma, allergies, and renal failure in patients in slums, due to the lack of drinking water and unsanitary living conditions which led to the spread of flies and mosquitoes. These areas also suffer from an increase in population, spread of illiteracy, and poor living conditions.

Those advocating the permanent removal of slums and relocation of inhabitants believe it is a necessary step as the slums are unfit for development and should be replaced with green areas in order to prevent pollution and establish business venues.

Meanwhile, opponents believe that the removal of slums and introduction of services would strain the public budget, which reached a deficit of 271 billion pounds in the 2011-2012 fiscal year. Economic expert Mamdouh El-Waly is among these. The slums should rather go through a process of development and replacement, El Waly believes, pointing to the difficulty of relocating a great number of people, including the complexities of displacing people attached to their home.