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HISTORY OF CITIES – HERITAGE
According to the MENA-POLIS Website (1) …
After experiencing an urbanization rate fairly stable for approximately 50 years (1960 to 2006), around 43%, the country has experienced a dramatic increase in the rate is increased to 82% in 2010! But I must say that during this same period (half a century), the Egyptian population has tripled. The settlement was achieved mainly in the Nile Valley and Delta. However, the urbanization rate is comparable to other neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Libya.
Egypt presents a particular geology, the country is mostly desert. This has led to the phenomenon of urban sprawl, cities with tight between them (average 5 km between the cities in 2010).
This has resulted in the following phenomena:
The continuous emergence of new urban areas.
New urban ensembles : the various localities extend and will gradually merge with the cities that are close to them.
A phenomenon of urban sprawl leads to urban forms of “diffuse”, including through the creation of large villages and new habitats along the roads.
According to the authors of the study, the medium-term projections highlight the following points.
Urban sprawl, if followed phenomena of decentralization will ask questions regarding urban management, good governance territories.
The resumption of growth in the major cities. Following the creation of new towns, urban densification came to a halt. But population growth will lead to a new urban growth.
A disruption of the urban network. Including population growth in the cities of lower magnitudes and the process of urban sprawl can ultimately change between the Egyptian cities and secondary cities.
HABITAT : LEGAL ASPECTS
RIGHT TO HOUSING
Early 2012, a new constitution was adopted by the new Egyptian government. It includes:
article 4 (Preamble) : Freedom is a right: freedom of thought, expression and creativity; freedom in housing, property and travel; its principles laid down by the Creator in the motion of the universe and human nature.
article 67 : Adequate housing, clean water and healthy food are given rights. The state adopts a national housing plan, its basis in social justice, the promotion of independent initiatives and housing cooperatives, and the regulation of the use of national territory for the purposes of construction, in accordance with public interest and with the rights of future generations.
article 69 : All individuals have the right to a healthy environment. The State shall safeguard the environment against pollution, and promote the use of natural resources in a manner that prevents damage to the environment and preserves the rights of future generations.
Amnesty International has many concerns about the new Constitution. Among his concerns that the constitution fails to provide for the supremacy of international law over national law, raising concerns about Egypt’s commitment to human rights treaties to which it is a state party. Furthermore, the document fails to fully guarantee economic, social and cultural rights, such as protection against forced evictions. Read more : Amnesty website
A recent phenomena causes of forced evictions is the current policy of urban development. Here is an example of Cairo in Egypt.
“Under Cairo’s intended urban master plan for 2050, the government strives to beautify the city, create new green spaces throughout, and make Cairo more appealing on the world stage. Gazirat al-Dhahab Island is one urban space that the government wishes to put into “better use.” Although this “better use” remains to be clearly defined by the Ministry of Housing and Public Utilities, one option has been to sell the land to a non-Egyptian Arab investor that would use this space to build tourism facilities. The government justifies the eviction of these families by stating that the island is government-owned land and that it is not being used for “public benefit.” It also promises to provide residents with adequate compensation packages. Yet, residents find it difficult to trust the government’s promises since many families who gave up their land in prior negotiations never received full compensation.”
Agrarian reform began in 1987, earlier than other reform programs. It continues to have a very negative impact on human rights and is a source of considerable state and non-state violence.
In 1992, land law no. 96 of 1992 was issued through which the agrarian land was liberalized. The law determined a five-year transitional period (that ended in 1997) after which tenants had to return the arable land to its original owners. The tenants had rented these properties for forty years with fixed rents determined by law (seven times the tax – about 100 LE per feden/acre) since the issuance of law 157 of 1952. According to the new law no. 96 of 1992, the rent increased to 22 times the tax (about 600 LE). In 1997, determining the rent of the arable land was left to the owners, whereby the rental of one feden reached 2000 LE. And in 2005, the yearly rental value of one feden amounted to an average of 3000 LE.
Land law no. 96 of 1992 omitted the two most important advantages of the previous law no. 157 of 1952 issued by the Naserian government namely a fixed rental value (seven times the tax), the inability to evict tenants from their rented lands. Accordingly, new (non-cash) rental relations emerged, such as unfavorable commodity payments, sharecropping and others that turn farmers into slaves cultivating land that is not sufficient for satisfying their basic needs.
The tenants are evicted from their lots without receiving any compensation for their property and houses. Article no. 33 of law 96/1992 proposes giving alternative properties in the desert to the evicted tenants, but in reality, nothing has happened. Moreover, the law is not concerned with compensating tenants for their houses, buildings and agricultural machines that they had acquired throughout the renting period. Also, the law violates all constitutional regulations that require providing the million tenants and their families with alternatives guaranteeing their social safety. The law neglects public welfare and the discrimination applied by the law violates the constitutional principle of equality.
Read more : CITEGO
Land grabbing is analyzed in terms of widespread corruption for decades. ICH-HLRN offers a contemporary analysis of the situation in relation to the Arab spring. For more information: HIC-HLRN document
SOME INTERESTING PRACTICES
HABITAT : SOCIAL & ECONOMIC ASPECTS
Egypt is facing a mismatch between supply and demand for housing. The low-income populations are facing a shortage of formal housing supply, while the supply for the wealthier populations exceeds demand. This explains the coexistence of a strong demand for housing and a large amount of “luxury” housing empty. (3)
QUALITY OF HOUSING
INFORMAL HOUSING / SLUM / HOMELESS
ROLE OF PUBLIC AUTHORITIES
Among the actions implemented by the Government in recent years, there are (3):
Social housing has for decades relied on the public sector who has never been able to meet demand.
A program of access to private property for low-income households had been taken by the Government in 2005 (= National Housing Program). The idea was that developers should be both public and private.
A loan is granted to low-income households, amounting to 15% of the value of the property and a ceiling housing.
New towns have an important role to play in policy social housing: social housing in these cities – self-supporting low-cost building – provision of public land for private investors responsible for conducting 35% of social housing.
HABITAT : ENVIRONMENTAL ASPECTS
Bibliography & Sitography
Video of the association “La Chaîne” : “European Coalition of Housing Rights and the Right to the City in ATHENS 21 and 22 June 2015” (Part 4)
EGYPTIAN CENTER FOR HOUSING RIGHTS explicit situations indicating major problems in housing:
Egyptian law in favor of the landlord, the tenant has very little protection. Many homeowners set contracts for one year in order to raise prices easily.
Given the very high prices of housing, including those produced by the state in the past years, Egypt is experiencing a serious situation of homeless people and empty homes.
New towns are experiencing specific problems: luxury accommodation, low job offers that require a high degree of mobility, …
Informal settlements important. Slums are périférie in cities, but also in the heart of cities, many people live in cemeteries!
EGYPTIAN CENTER FOR HOUSING RIGHTS proposes:
Limit the growth of informal settlements by eliminating the causes of the problem, that is to say, the result of massive rural living conditions in rural areas.
Create a fund to support housing for the poorest, including through funds collected by those who introduce a building permit.
Establish clear procedures for expulsion, with information of the citizen, or relocation assistance and intimidation from the police.
CIVIL SOCIETY ACTORS
EGYPTIAN FOUNDATION FOR REFUGEE RIGHTS – EFRR = an NGO founded in 2008 to provide free legal aid to refugees before Egyptian courts, police officers and detention centers. EFRR wishes to assure refugees the access to and enjoyment of their rights, and working to raise awareness of the rights of refugees under international law and domestic Egyptian. Website
THE EGYPTIAN CENTER FOR HOUSING RIGHTS – ECHR = non-governmental organization for the defense of the right to adequate housing, especially for the most vulnerable populations. Its objectives are to fight against forced evictions – attempt to provide alternative housing to those evicted – create campaigns for the right to housing – networking organizations interested in that right – awareness in the defense of their rights to adequate housing – to help provide housing for the most vulnerable populations – providing legal assistance. Website ECHR – Contact Them.
THE AFRICAN CENTRE FOR HUMAN LIVING IN EGYPT = association born of a new cooperation network in 2000 in Cairo and whose aim is to guarantee the right to housing for the most disadvantaged. The association conducts information campaigns to people about their rights and political lobbying. CITEGO Website