Students design strategies for upgrading of informal areas in Greater Cairo
“What are the needs of the residents of Ezbet el-Nasr? What are the most pressing problems facing the community and how could they be addressed?” These are questions the Governor of Cairo has to ask himself when searching for an adequate intervention strategy for developing Ezbet al-Nasr, one of the numerous informal areas in Greater Cairo.
In only ten working days, the 18 students of TU Berlin and their two tutors had to accomplish exactly this challenging task: get to know the intervention area, analyse it and develop concrete and realistic implementable strategies for dealing with this area.
The students are predominantly from developing or emerging nations in Latin America, Africa, and Asia and are participants in TU Berlin’s fifth postgraduate international course in Urban Management. They all have several years of work experience, for the most part in the field of architecture, urban and city planning and administration.
For some years, student research assignments related to one of GIZ supported projects abroad have been taking place within the framework of cooperation between GIZ and TU Berlin. In these assignments, which form an integral part of the master course, the students are faced with the challenge of implementing a research project in the context of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ).
This year’s project assignment took place in Cairo, Egypt, and was accompanied and supported by the Participatory Development Programme in Urban Areas (PDP). For most of the students it was their first visit to Cairo. Nevertheless, the topic of investigation was not new to them as the majority have been involved with slums development, upgrading of poor urban areas and participatory methodologies in their home countries. The international composition of the group was very enriching for the performance of the task.
Despite the time pressure, the two teams – one working in Cairo Governorate and the other in Giza Governorate – developed comprehensive, target-oriented intervention strategies for upgrading the infrastructure and improving the economic conditions of the two informal areas using participatory procedures. The recommendations of the students were very much appreciated and acted upon by the Governors. Accordingly, a proposed interim solution by the students for installing a pump in Ezbet el-Nasr to connect the dysfunctional sewage system to an operational system in the adjacent area has been realized by Cairo Governorate. Hence, the residents of the area had a direct practical benefit from the student’s project.
In addition, the other involved parties also drove substantial benefit from the project: the students by gaining experience and new insights, the Governors by obtaining actual and precise data of the areas as well as upgrading proposals and the GIZ team by getting the chance to introduce new and innovative ideas and potentials for development to their partners.