Egyptian Civil Society in Transition—Reflections on Cairo’s Governance

Source: Middle East Institute
Author(s): Susanna Myllylä

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Greater Cairo, with its 20 million people,[1] faces wide-ranging challenges regarding its living conditions, as is typical of Southern megacities. One key factor is that 70 percent of Cairenes live in informal settlements.[2] Crisis in urban governance[3] has thus become chronic in Cairo. The situation has been caused by growing socioeconomic inequalities, strengthened by the government’s economic privatization policies and favoring the elites and their gated communities,[4] The Mubarak regime ignored the growing slum-related problems, and certain public works projects were put on hold for about three decades.[5]

O’Donnell[6] reminds us that problems are solved based on how they are framed and discussed. For instance, by employing a new perception of informal housing, the commonly identified “problem” of urban informality can be turned around: the phenomenon per se is not a problem but rather a question of values, recognition, and rights of the residents of informal settlements….

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