An urban project based on community participation is currently in the works to rearrange plots of lands. Our Neighbourhood was designed to be in line with the strategy to develop the local economy and manage the public finance of local administrations more efficiently.
The blueprints take into primal consideration private properties and the natural, social, economic, and cultural aspects of each area. The project also contributes to making available basic services and infrastructure.
At COP27, which Egypt hosted in Sharm El-Sheikh from 6 to 18 November, Amr Lashin, director of the Urban Governance, Policies, and Legislation Programme at the United Nations Human Settlements Programme at the Egypt Office, told Al-Ahram Weekly that the project cements the concept and values of community participation and fortifies the building of institutional abilities.
Our Neighbourhood will start in three locations in Qena and Damietta governorates due to their accelerating rate of urban development: Al-Maana and Al-Hamidat areas in Qena, and Al-Sharaa in Damietta, Lashin added.
Suitable locations are chosen based on the availability of an accredited strategy for the city, political support, the abilities of local administration, coordination between the main active entities in charge of managing lands and making available the necessary infrastructure, and the experience of the local administration in similar projects, he explained.
The Qena governor has approved improvements in Al-Hamidat for LE250 per square metre and is studying the possibility of people paying the total sum over 10-year instalments, Lashin continued, pointing out that the detailed scheme will not be prepared or approved unless there is complete consensus among the landlords.
The idea of the project was borne out of the accelerating pace of urban expansion, in addition to the complaints of people in inhabited areas in Egypt about the fragmentation of ownership and the scarcity of public lands in many governorates. Many people in different areas have also been frustrated with the weak institutional framework for land management and registration, which at times results in the inability to develop and prepare realistic and implementable urban plans, especially amid the increasing population growth, Lashin told the Weekly.
The project is also meant to improve the quality of life of land owners and raise the value of land, he said.
Lashin noted that the project will not include taking lands away from people or taking residential buildings down. It will rather rearrange lands in direct coordination with the people and in line with relative regulations and conditions, he added.
The project is being implemented in partnership between the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, Egypt, and the Egyptian General Authority for Urban Planning. It costs $11.1 million, of which $8.1 million are financed by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs and the rest by the Egyptian government.
Direct and indirect beneficiaries are estimated at 120,000 individuals, including land owners, renters, future residents, the local community, and local administration members, Lashin noted.
The project began in 2019 and runs through 2024, he stated.
The idea was first implemented in 6 October city by the Ministry of Housing, Lashin added.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 24 November, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.