Community-led infrastructure development in informal areas in urban Egypt: A case study

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Public Policy & Administration Department

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Research Article

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Habitat International

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This article examines how infrastructure development takes place outside of formal government involvement through the successful implementation of self-help projects by the residents of an informal area in Egypt. Drawing on a case study of community-based efforts in Ezbet el-Haggana, one of Cairo's largest informal areas, this study focuses on how residents have organized to gain access to infrastructure services, by turns negotiating with, collaborating with, or working around the local administration to bring electricity, water, and sanitation services to their neighborhoods. It explores their use of organizational and financing strategies, particularly self-funding. The study's findings argue that community contributions to infrastructure development in informal areas are an essential component of any feasible strategy to meet the need for such services in a timely fashion. Such a feasible strategy would enable the needs for basic services in rapidly-growing informal areas to be met, but they require governments to consider alternative approaches that partner with local communities and prioritize essential infrastructure needs, integration of informal communities into the urban fabric, and social justice. The paper offers recommendations for integrating self-help approaches into government-led development plans and programs to scale up "grassroots public-private partnerships" and expand their use. This strategy can advance sustainable development in Egypt and other developing and transitional countries, but it will require building government capacity for outcome-oriented community partnering and greater regulatory flexibility. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

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