Elena Piffero’s PhD thesis with the title “What Happened to Participation? Urban Development and Authoritarian Upgrading in Cairo’s Informal Neighbourhoods” is based on sound empirical evidence and a fascinating reading for anyone interested in Cairo and in the contradictions between development theories and practices.
Her analysis follows three sets of questions: the first set regards the way ‘participation’ has been interpreted and concretised by PUMP and PDP. The second is about the emancipating potential of the ‘participatory approach’ and its ability to ‘empower’ the ‘marginalised’. The third focuses on one hand on the efficacy of GIZ strategy to lead to an improvement of the delivery service in informal areas (especially in terms of planning and policies), and on the other hand on the potential of GIZ development intervention to trigger an incremental process of ‘democratisation’ from below.