So It’s Always a Chance: Community-Led Solutions to New Urban Expansion
President Abd Al-Fatah El Sisi declared that more than 50% of urban, and rural agglomerations in Egypt are informal (Youm 7, 2016). In addition, arbitrary urbanization, and rapid population growth of urban, and rural agglomerations have increased the demand for housing, especially for low income groups. It is estimated that Egypt’s population has rose over the past decade from 72.8 million people in 2006, to 94 million people in 2017, an increase of 21.2 million people (CAPMAS, General statistics for population and housing: population census. Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics, Cairo, 2017). This population inhabited around 6% of Egyptian territory. If this trend is continued, Egypt’s population will reach more than 183 million by the year 2050, by which we will need at least one-fold of the current urban, and rural agglomerations to be added for meeting future housing demand, and various social amenities. Also, if the current housing policy, and planning trends are to be continued, it is expected that more than 50% of the future urban, and rural agglomeration will be spreading informally on adjacent agricultural land on the periphery of urban areas. This brief background leads to question the future of Egyptian urbanism, and how to tackle the spreading of urban informality. It is the time to understand how the urban poor formulated urban informality in which they secured their land tenure. If the urban patterns of low-income groups are to be remodeled, and if the informal process of cooperation among the urban poor is to be formalized, it would enhance the Egyptian built environment, and meet the official planning processes.
This chapter is an attempt to shed light on hidden potential actions of urban informality, as a cooperation/participation process among the urban poor, and to understand how they formulated the informal urban expansions that met their requirements, and their needs. Potential actions of the urban poor, and their relative impact on the housing production are defined as the priorities of the participants (government, professionals, and the poor) and their ability, liability and willingness towards the production of housing being supplied. Three important themes are explored, those of preferred, effective, and actual actions. This research applies a deductive methodology to test theoretical concepts, and patterns by using new empirical data. The potential actions, among the urban poor, are examined in relation to land plots with security of tenure, and its relationship to the housing process as a use and/or an exchange value, and the way it had been created, developed, and invested.
This chapter utilizes the above arguments through two sources; first; the examination of reports of the General Strategies Urban Plan’s (GSUPs) for selected Egyptian cities. The second is information based on practical studies, previous researches, participant observation, and the exploration and understanding of complex issues of urban informality in which the author was involved. The main arguments are driven by investigating the informal new urban expansions in Benha city to explore the three themes of potential action, and to deduce the main lessons learnt from such development (Soliman 2017). The aim is to reach a practical, and applicable housing policy, and to remodel the current planning ideas to serve the immediate and future population needs for housing and various social amenities in a cooperative way in order to alleviate poverty.
The findings of the study would change concepts of the current housing policy for the advantage of the urban poor. They are diverse, and multifaceted based on the history of potential actions, and the development patterns of the informal urban expansions. Throughout Egyptian cities, informal security of land tenure has been the preferred methods for safeguarding the interests of disadvantages groups. A form of legalization among users based on collective land tenure is highlighted.
KeywordsUrban informality Informal urban expansions Potential actions The urban poor Land tenure
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