Participatory Urban Upgrading : The Case of Ezbet Bekhit, Cairo, Egypt
As a mega-city and the most populated city in Africa, Cairo is characterised by a high birth rate, escalating rural-urban migration and where the socio-economic services are centralized and overwhelmed, these generally poor migrants have no choice other than to create and develop their own informal shelter in the outer city areas that lay farthest from the reach of the authorities and from where they then search for better job opportunities. The expansion of these slum areas places an extra burden on the already deteriorated natural and unplanned urban environments. No government or public sector mass production housing units . inherited from the former socialist system . have been able to cope with the magnitude of housing demand nor is the private sector interested in investing in a non-profitable market. At this juncture there is an urgent requirement for new ways of thinking that address the realities of the situation and consider integrated socioeconomic long-term solutions for the informal settlements.
Under the Egyptian-German Cooperation, GTZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit) proposed the Participatory Urban Upgrading Program as a possible means of addressing the problem which is based on stimulation, promotion and effective participation of local communities in the upgrading process. The Participatory Urban Upgrading Program operates at two levels, (i) the local level: through .Demonstration projects. to be applied to a limited geographical area. Ezbet Bekhit Demonstration Project is the case of the present study and (ii) the national level: the experiences gained through several .Demonstration Projects. will give substance, and thereby prominence to the participatory approach, so that the Program has an increasingly beneficial impact on the national policy.
The experiences gained from Ezbet Bekhit Upgrading Project will offer the opportunity to examine the main concept expressed by the Program and increase the prospects of having an impact on the urban upgrading policy at the national level. The current study attempts to develop and assess the overall Participatory Upgrading Programme and Ezbet Bekhit Project within a framework of benchmarks extracted from the program concept.
At the Project level, the focus of thesis analysis is based on aspects that explain the Project’s approach to solving basic problems. Attention is placed on the involvement of local inhabitants in the solutions at the planning and implementation levels. A Model of Community Participation is proposed for application in a selected upgrading component. The Model is based on the .Community Action Planning., which has been developed by Hamdi and Goethert as an appropriate planning tool that can stimulate and organize a non-cohesive community type.
At the Program level, recommendations are presented in this study, which have been extracted from the main pillars of the Program concept and characterized the driving forces influencing the main objectives and orientating the goals of the upgrading projects.
It is contended that an in-depth understanding and analysis of the specific socio-economic conditions and the community profile of the selected informal settlements; together with an explicit governmental policy supporting the Participatory Urban Upgrading Approach will enhance the success of Participatory Projects.
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