Hoda El Mahdy


Most criticism about Cairo’s dysfunctional solid waste management system has been directed towards the multinational companies managing it since 2002. This study explores the reason for this dysfunction and accordingly devises operational reform recommendations. The study relies on qualitative primary data obtained from interviewing representatives of the Egyptian government, private sector partners, workers, civil society organizations, investors and consultants during 2014 and 2015. The study also relies on the review of secondary data about different international models, particularly Brazil, which was taken as a case study for comparative analysis. The data collected shows that the current management system is ineffective due to the Egyptian government’s insufficient financial and administrative planning prior to contracting with multinational companies. Additionally, systemic problems at Cairo’s local administration level has led to a continued state of a hindrance to reform efforts. Cairo’s officials have already identified some relevant reform interventions to introduce. These include substituting the multinational companies with the national companies formed by traditional waste workers of Cairo, introducing financial and administrative reforms, encouraging recycling through applying waste segregation at source, and supporting composting and waste-to-energy technology. Success of these reform plans, however, is dependent on the national solid waste management authority’s autonomy, ability to devise and implement a national policy plan that takes different stakeholder interests into account and the capacity of waste workers to organize under legal entities.


Public Policy & Administration Department

Degree Name

MA in Public Policy

Graduation Date


Submission Date

May 2016

First Advisor

Barsoum, Dr. Ghada

Committee Member 1

Bhuiyan, Dr. Shahjahan

Committee Member 2

Abdelhalim, Dr. Khaled


102 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis


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Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item


This study was supported by a number of people and entities without whom; it would not have been possible. First, I want to thank Open Society Foundation for selecting me as a recipient of their generous sponsorship through the Arab Women Fellowship Program. I feel very lucky to have been offered this opportunity to study for a Master’s of Public Policy at the American University in Cairo. It has been a life-changing opportunity on both the academic and personal levels, so thank you. I would also like to thank Dr. Ghada Barsoum for her very kind consideration, patience and guidance in supervising me. I also thank my readers Dr. Shahjahan Bhuyian and Dr. Khaled Abdel Halim for their valuable input and help. Special thanks as well to Dr. Nile El Wardani for her support especially in the early stages of my work. Dr. Ayman Moharram and Mr. Karim El Sabee, thank you for your generous time and invaluable help offered to me throughout my data collection process. You have both played a pivotal role in linking me to resources and information and I am deeply grateful for that. I would also like to give my appreciation to all the informal workers, civil society activists, academics, public sector officials and private sector representatives for giving me their time and effort. Special thanks to HE Dr. Laila Iskander for meeting with me even during a difficult personal time. My supervisors and colleagues at SFSD, thank you for your support throughout the duration of my master’s program and for allowing me to work flexible hours to accommodate my class schedules. My mother and sisters, thank you for carrying my weight without complaint throughout my coursework and research and allowing me the free time I needed. Thanks as well to my friends and study partners who have looked after me, pushed me forward and supported me consistently and patiently. Special thanks to Mohab Omran and Nada Nabil for their continuous encouragement and faith in me.