This study focuses on the problem of slums or ‘ashwa’iyyat in Egypt and its placement on the public agenda. For this, the researcher studied the case of the development and upgrading project of ‘ashwa’iyyat Zeinhum which was implemented by the Egyptian Red Crescent (ERC), an Egyptian non-governmental organization, for more than ten years from 1998 through 2009. The study analyzed the Zeinhum case mainly from two perspectives. The first is the more general perspective, in which Zeinhum was looked at as part of the bigger context that has to do with the government’s general strategy during Mubarak’s period, towards ‘ashwa’iyyat in Egypt. When analyzed as such Zeinhum represent an example of the denial and containment strategy that the government has been following and using. The government responses to ‘ashwa’iyyat has varied from tolerance, ignoring, neglect, upgrading, development, threat of demolition and resettlement, threat of use of force, to even use of actual force, all of these tactics and strategies were at some point used together, but most importantly while they may seem different but they in fact however can be classified as different forms of a denial and containment strategy that is being used by the government against the placement of ‘ashwa’iyyat as an issue on the public agenda. From this perspective, Zeinhum is an example of a symbolic and showcasing tactic under this denial and containment strategy. The study found that many government agencies are one way or the other involved in ‘ashwa’iyyat each with their own perspective and understanding of what the problem is. Moreover, what the researcher found is that there is not in fact a one agreed upon government definition and understanding of ‘ashwa’iyyat issue which would cover all the different angles of this multidimensional problem and this in fact affects the placement of this issue on the agenda. The second perspective, from which Zeinhum was analyzed, was more particular and specific to the Zeinhum case and which showed a change and shift from the denial and containment to agenda access. The study found that the role played by ERC in the project has kept Zeinhum on the government agenda through the project duration. The mediating and advocacy role that ERC has played between Zeinhum residents and the government not only represented a transfer in the type of work and in the role played by NGOs in Egypt, but has represented a new strategy that helped keep Zeinhum on the agenda. An implicit conflict arose, through the project period, between ERC and the responsible government agency mainly on keeping Zeinhum on the government agenda. This struggle represented not only a shift in strategy but also is the point of success of the Zeinhum project. The researcher believes that this could be in fact used as an example and a model for replication. However, the researcher believes that it is not easy to replicate the project advocacy effort by other Egyptian NGOs due to the fact that the power of ERC has stemmed from its affiliation with the former First Lady, Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, a point of strength that other NGOs do not have. At the same time, the researcher believes that this project has pointed to a major problem relating to ‘ashwa’iyyat in Egypt that has to do with the lack of a voice that would represent ‘ashwa’iyyat and that would in turn push ‘ashwa’iyyat as an issue into the government agenda.
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
MA in Political Science
Committee Member 1
Committee Member 2
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Shoukry, M. M.
(2021).Defining slums ('Ashwa'iyyat) in Egyptian Public Agenda-setting process [Thesis, the American University in Cairo]. AUC Knowledge Fountain.
Shoukry, Mervat Mohamed Hussein. Defining slums ('Ashwa'iyyat) in Egyptian Public Agenda-setting process. 2021. American University in Cairo, Thesis. AUC Knowledge Fountain.