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Alexandria Engineering Journal (2017) xxx, xxx–xxx

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Alexandria University

Alexandria Engineering Journal


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ORIGINAL ARTICLE

From Informal Settlements to sustainable


communities
Dina Mamdouh Nassar *, Hanan Gamil Elsayed

Department of Architectural Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Alexandria University, Egypt

Received 19 July 2017; accepted 6 September 2017

KEYWORDS Abstract Informal Settlements and urban informality is a serious and common problem in Third
Informal Settlement; World countries. These settlements are not marginal actors in the real estate market. They play an
Urban sprawl; important role affecting greatly the housing supply and demand market. In Egypt, Informal Settle-
Urban upgrading; ments emerged in and around big cities since the sixties of the twentieth century, due to natural
Sustainable development; growth and the flux of rural-urban migration. Alexandria- as the second biggest city in Egypt after
Housing supply and demand Cairo- is witnessing a rapid population increase, therefore monitoring Informal Settlements loca-
tions, expansion and growth is important for possible urban development.
This study focuses on the continued transformation of Alexandria’s backdrop productive agricul-
tural land into Informal Settlements causing serious encroachment on agricultural land. The study
intends to find solutions through examining local needs and potentials for a selected case study
named ‘‘Houd 10”. This case is an example that sheds the light on means that can be utilized in
Informal Settlements to improve living conditions and reach socio-economic potentials. Analyses
of the current situation and challenges at Houd 10 are examined on three levels; economic, social
and environmental. The research also highlights the role of non-profit organizations and social par-
ticipation for developing such areas.
Ó 2017 Faculty of Engineering, Alexandria University. Production and hosting by Elsevier B.V. This is an
open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

1. Introduction and assets. This is for both now and in the future, while not
undermining the natural resource base”.
‘‘Informal Settlements are sustainable when they can cope [1]
with and recover from stresses and shocks. This concept can There have been different policies, strategies and programs
be achieved by maintaining or enhancing their capabilities devised by third world governments to solve the urban housing
problem which is the main breeding platform for Informal Set-
tlements. These approaches include different programs, such
as; public housing, sites and services, redevelopment, slum
* Corresponding author. and area upgrading, among others; but none of which could
E-mail addresses: dnassararch@yahoo.com, dina.nassar@alexu.edu. address the environmental quality and housing needs on a big-
eg (D.M. Nassar), hanangamil28@gmail.com (H.G. Elsayed). ger scale. People established self-planned settlements or; Infor-
Peer review under responsibility of Faculty of Engineering, Alexandria mal Settlements, in response to this unsustainable and
University.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aej.2017.09.004
1110-0168 Ó 2017 Faculty of Engineering, Alexandria University. Production and hosting by Elsevier B.V.
This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
Please cite this article in press as: D.M. Nassar, H.G. Elsayed, From Informal Settlements to sustainable communities, Alexandria Eng. J. (2017), https://doi.org/
10.1016/j.aej.2017.09.004
2 D.M. Nassar, H.G. Elsayed

ineffective land transformation system. Such areas have long associated with quantitative and qualitative methods simulta-
been treated in a reactive manner. Policies and practices that neously with the use of a variety of data sources to study the
supported this approach contributed less to the overall urban research problem.
quality of life and failed to stop further growing of Informal The study focuses on available information and theory to
Settlements. This call’s for descriptive approaches that would interpret the results and methodological triangulation of data
reduce losses experienced by Informal Settlements and stop to achieve the objectives. Investigation involves face-to-face
their continued reproduction. To establish such a system; driv- interviews and questionnaires for the selected case study area
ing forces of Informal Settlements should be detected and in south east Alexandria ‘‘Houd 10”. The included survey
probable future areas must be integrated in future urban plan- was held by one of the authors with a group of colleagues, aim-
ning. Therefore, addressing the problems that constitute the ing to produce statistical maps of land use, services accessibil-
expansion and densification of Informal Settlements are the ity, building heights and building structural types that can
main focus in this research. facilitate future intervention and help studies on Informal
The discussion tackles the principles of sustainability as a Settlements.
way to obtain quality and efficiency in Informal Settlements,
through mooring the three main pillars of sustainability; the 4. Defining Informal Settlements
economic dimension, the ecologic dimension and the social
dimension. The principle of social participation is most impor- The World Urban Forum established by the United Nations in
tant; whereas the rolls of nongovernmental organizations, 2001 ascribed the program ‘‘Cities without Slums” using the
youth and charities in relieving the burden on governments term slum to describe ‘‘a wide range of low income settlements
towards better qualities of life in Informal Settlements. and/or poor human living conditions” [2]. Since that time, glo-
The research also displays some serious challenges that bal concern about slums and their residents were generated
restrain sustainable development in Informal Settlements that and the following policy measures took place; UN charter
faces planners and developers of such areas including; eco- on the right to housing, universal declaration of human rights,
nomic and housing challenges, social and institutional chal- UN-HABITAT standards of a slum household, Agenda 21,
lenges and finally environmental challenges. chapter 7 and the Millennium Development Goals, Goal
7/Target 11 [3].
2. Scope of research and objectives Squatting is the term used to describe Non-legal or Infor-
mal occupation of buildings or land. The UNCHS defines this
This research intends to establish the concept of a healthy envi- indicator as follows: ‘‘housing tenure refers to the rights of
ronment for the future ‘‘the fourth and fifth generation of slum households over the housing and land they occupy, particu-
dwellers’’. It integrates the concept of sustainability, as an larly rights over land”. This includes ‘‘households in squatter
angle to solve the issues of deteriorated physical and non- housing or housing which has no title to the land on which
physical form of slum condition areas. It does not mean to it stands, and who pay no rents as well as households in squat-
analyse the regulations or the organization of land tuner. This ter housing that pay rent [4].
research aims to tackle the principle of sustainability as a way Due to the absence of an adequate formal response to the
to obtain quality and efficiency in Informal Settlements for growth of housing demands, Informal Settlements is the logi-
both life and physical form, by achieving the next objectives: cal response. This phenomenon can be linked to a series of fac-
tors including the transition from colonialism, the increase in
a. Introducing the problem of Informal Settlements. urban poverty and the impacts of structural adjustment and
b. Categorizing the different typologies of informal areas other neo-liberal programs on formal welfare for the poor [4].
in Egypt. Informal Settlements refer to a wide range of residential
c. Defining the economic, social and environmental chal- areas formed of communities housed in self-constructed shel-
lenges that face interventions and policies that took ters that are perceived as informal on the basis of their legal
place in Informal Settlements. status, their physical conditions or both [5]. The General Orga-
d. Demonstrating how far could Informal Settlements nization of Physical Planning in Egypt (GOPP) in 2006 defined
become eco-friendly, self-sufficient and how can they Informal Settlements as; ‘‘All areas that have been developed
contribute in lessening the burden on local governments. by individual efforts, whether single or multi-story buildings
or shacks, in the absence of law and has not been physically
The research is divided into two sections; section one is a planned. They have been developed on lands that are not
literature review on Informal Settlements and section two pre- assigned in the city’s master plan for building housing. The
sents a case study of an Informal Settlement in Alexandria buildings’ conditions might be good; however they might be
called ‘‘Houd 10”. environmentally or socially unsafe and lack the basic services
and utilities” [6].
3. Research methodology
4.1. Informal Settlements in Egypt
The methodology used in this research is an inductive
approach; through addressing the concept of sustainability Categorizing Informal Settlements in Egypt is based on two
with its main pillars to develop and enhance the environment criteria; the physical conditions and the legal status. Illegal
in the Informal Settlements. This pragmatic approach housing designates; all constructions that are either not

Please cite this article in press as: D.M. Nassar, H.G. Elsayed, From Informal Settlements to sustainable communities, Alexandria Eng. J. (2017), https://doi.org/
10.1016/j.aej.2017.09.004
From Informal Settlements to sustainable communities 3

following building and planning laws and regulations or that 4.2. Informal Settlements in Alexandria
are built on illegally acquired land. The physical condition
allows distinguishing between acceptable and deteriorated Alexandria’s population is growing fast as a result of natural
physical structures. Four categories designate different typolo- increase and migration from rural areas. This is the main cause
gies of housing structures, three out of four are considered of forming squatter settlements on adjacent agricultural lands.
informal [6,7]. Researches distinguished between two typolo- With reference to location and demand; there is a clear shift of
gies of Informal Settlements depending on the physical defini- gravity from the old central districts Wassat, Gomrok and
tion whereas; settlements that are built on privately owned Gharb to the north-eastern areas of Montazah, Sharq and
agricultural land and settlements that are built on desert state the south-western at Al Ameriyah parts of the city, as seen
owned land [8]. Informal Settlements emerged in and around in the map resented in Fig. 1 [10]. The city is facing big chal-
Egyptian cities in the 1960s due to the flux of rural-urban lenges; currently 37 squatter settlements exist and over one-
migration and the saturation of formal affordable housing. third of the population lives with limited access to infrastruc-
On the other hand, initial settlements on public desert land ture and municipal service and inadequate shelters [13].
were ignored. The government started to build low-cost hous- Almost all of the unplanned areas in Alexandria meet ISDF’s
ing, but unfortunately was unable to satisfy the increasing national standards for safety. There are just ten second grade
demands. In the 1970s the government was busy with modern- unsafe areas and only two that are considered life threatening
izing the infrastructure of formal areas and the development of [10]. Informal Settlements can be found throughout Alexan-
new cities. Informal settlements persuaded on agriculture land dria; some are as small as a few buildings while others are vast
and by the 1980s, such areas became a prominent feature of the neighbourhoods. There are three types of unplanned areas in
urban environment. It was clear in the 1990s that the Informal Alexandria, each defined by how they were developed and
Settlements are becoming a threat for national security, there- the land tenure that owners have.
fore the governmental policy started to target them with a ser- The first type is; encroachment on agricultural land. This is
ies of national programs for upgrading. The presidential decree found along the southern edges of Montazah, Sharq, and Was-
for the ‘Citizen’s right to appropriate infrastructure’ focused sat districts. Unplanned areas are growing through subdivision
on improving access, providing infrastructure and services in of agricultural land. The owners of the land subdivide large
consolidated areas [6]. plots and sell small lots for agricultural use. Developers then
In 2002 the population of informal areas in the Greater buy the land and erect one or more buildings, illegally convert-
Cairo Region reached 6.2 million inhabitants. In 2005 (GOPP) ing it to buildings. Sometimes infrastructure and services are
estimated the population living in informal areas in Egypt at available on these plots, sometimes they are illegally added,
8.3 million inhabitants. In 2007, the Ministry of Local Devel- and sometimes they are completely missing. Properties pur-
opment estimated that there are 1171 informal areas in Egypt chased from developers are usually under Urfi contracts. These
with a population of 15 million. The concern for controlling are primary sales contracts which enable legal possession of
the growth of informal areas brought about a new policy unregistered real estate property. The lack of registration does
approach, trying to plan the fringes of the city before being not prevent the transfer of legal possession of the land giving
eaten up by informal growth [6]. the buyer the right to make use of the property. The distinction
In 2008 the Informal Settlement Development Facility is that a registered contract denotes full ownership while an
(ISDF), redefined ‘‘Slums” or ‘‘Informal Settlements” to; Urfi contract only allows use of the land.
‘‘Unsafe Areas” and ‘‘Unplanned areas”. Where; unsafe areas The second type is; illegal settlement on public and Waqf
are characterized by being subject to life threat, or having property. Waqf is an Arabic word that refers to a voluntary
inappropriate housing, or exposed to health threat or tenure and irrevocable dedication of land for charity compliant pro-
risks. While unplanned areas are principally characterized by jects (such as mosques or religious schools). Developers take
its noncompliance to planning and building laws and regula- such land illegally and erect buildings without proper permits.
tions [9,10]. Most typically these are seen near employment centres like fac-
In 2016, 48% of Egypt’s population are living in slum con- tories or warehouse. The old custom of occupancy makes these
ditions, three of the 30 mega slums around the world are found developments possible; this means that ownership can be taken
in Egypt (Imbaba and Ezbet El-Haggana 2.2 million, city of by building upon the land.
the dead 1.8 million). There are about 10.2 million slum dwell- The third type is; unplanned development on Bedouin land.
ers in greater Cairo out of 22.5 million (Cairo’s population) Land ownership in the Egyptian desert is largely unclear, a
[7,11,12]. piece of land may be owned by the Governorate or a private
Recently, the government is studying the application of a party, or even the military, but also be occupied by the Bed-
new law to reconcile previous illegal building violations in cer- ouins who claim that the land has been theirs for hundreds
tain cases, such as; buildings that are structurally safe and of years therefore, they sell land to informal developers. These
committed to height regulations. This law is expected to accept lands are mostly found in south-western (Al Ameriyah) parts
the regulation of such informal buildings both in formal and of the city and King Marriout area [8,10].
informal areas. The new law intends to draw a line between
previous violations of old illegal buildings that can’t be dealt
5. Different modes of intervention in Informal Settlements
with and future building constructions that must follow the
laws and regulations, towards a future for Egyptian cities free
of illegalities. The law will also insist on registering all new There are several parameters involved in any intervention
constructions, thus gain building tax benefits. procedures. Those procedures include; servicing, partial

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10.1016/j.aej.2017.09.004
4 D.M. Nassar, H.G. Elsayed

Fig. 1 Map of Unplanned and squatter settlements Areas in Alexandria [10].

adjustment, on-site redevelopment, evection and relocation, selected areas. Priority interventions are usually infrastructure
committing to the Millennium Development Goals, social par- and roads, but also include educational, health and other com-
ticipation and the role of NGOs. Each intervention is applied munity facilities. Sectorial upgrading is not limited to service
according to many different factors and not all upgrading improvement or physical upgrading alone. Donor agencies
interventions are sustainable. A lot of research work was done and NGOs target informal areas with socioeconomic programs
in this area to come up with the most suitable sustainable inter- such as micro-credit schemes, health awareness programs, etc.
vention for a certain case. In this part, the research reviews in
brief the different modes of intervention in Informal Settle- 5.3. On-site redevelopment of Informal Settlement
ments to clarify the methods applied on the study area ‘‘Houd
10” and to point out needed work for transforming this Infor- This intervention targets Informal Settlements where housing
mal Settlement into a sustainable community. conditions are highly deteriorated, and unsafe [6]. This inter-
vention is the choice for governments; as it is a complete
5.1. Servicing Informal Settlement replacement of the physical fabric through gradual demolition
and in-situ construction of alternative housing. It respects the
This intervention mode provides physical infrastructure and legal right of residents for alternative housing and the depen-
basic public services. Physical interventions provide the mini- dence of their livelihood on staying in the same location of
mum needs of humane living conditions that are of higher pri- the city. It clearly defines public and private spaces, which is
ority than other types of development. Such initiatives may one of the targets to define the relationship of local residents
coming from; ministries, donor agencies, the private sector with the city and with each other. Also, by time the availability
or large NGOs. The physical upgrading is always needed to of basic infrastructure and services can be installed. The prob-
be satisfied first. Socio-economic development activities can lem is always the availability of temporary shelter or settling
then proceed afterwards through local and national programs. areas [14].

5.2. Partial adjustment in Informal Settlement 5.4. Evacuation and relocation of Informal Settlement

This intervention focuses on providing services in one particu- Evictions must only be carried out as last resort after all feasi-
lar sector. Most of the physical upgrading and public services ble alternatives to eviction have been explored. Evacuation of
provision in informal areas in Egypt follow sectorial upgrading areas and buildings is prioritized where there is an imminent
interventions. National or international development agencies danger to lives. This intervention is the most drastic one! It
usually provide or improve services in Informal Settlements not only entails a complete demolition, but also the relocation
following the same approach of servicing, but may focus on of residents. They are often moved into new social housing

Please cite this article in press as: D.M. Nassar, H.G. Elsayed, From Informal Settlements to sustainable communities, Alexandria Eng. J. (2017), https://doi.org/
10.1016/j.aej.2017.09.004
From Informal Settlements to sustainable communities 5

developments at the fringes of the city or in new cities. This 6. Challenges towards upgrading Informal Settlements
mode mainly applies to slums in prime locations that are tar-
geted for redevelopment with a commercial interest to sell part Economic, social and environmental challenges obstruct
of the high-value land or use it for real estate investment [15]. applying the concept of sustainability in Informal Settlements.
Those challenges face governmental and nongovernmental
5.5. Applying the millennium development Goals on Informal institutions in developing and upgrading informal areas. Such
Settlement challenges can be summed up as following:

The millennium development goals, especially goal 7 and 8, 6.1. Economic challenges
state that any intervention in Informal Settlements must com-
mit to; make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resi- Due to absence of an adequate formal response to the growth
lient, and sustainable. Also to develop partnerships for of housing demand, people tend to build their own homes.
development, ensure environmental sustainability in human Many of the units are structurally unsound, lack access to
settlements which includes access for all to adequate, safe basic services and utilities and therefore are unfit for human
and affordable housing and basic services. These interventions habitation. The only adopted response to this situation in
should include cooperation with the private sector and NGOs, Egypt is the creation of public housing. It is initiated by the
while making available the benefits of new technologies, espe- central government for implementation by the governorates.
cially information and communications. By committing to the This solution lacks the participation of dwellers. Various hous-
Millennium Development Goals, it will afford means of fund- ing schemes for different groups have been implemented by the
ing for upgrading projects in the developing world [16]. It has central government and the local governorates. Characteristic
been proven that local actors (governments, communities, the for the public housing schemes are that they are established
private sector, and non-government organizations) are crucial and sold with heavy subsidy [17]. They are built on land areas
in the achievement of the MDGs. owned by the government far from residence jobs but not far
from public transportation. Also, public housing naturally
5.6. Role of NGOs and social participation in Informal tends to decay rapidly and they may therefore become
Settlement unattractive to targeted groups and in return become socially
unstable. The main obstacle for the provision of housing for
The developing process should rely on two principles to the moderate and low income groups is financing [10,13].
increase the likelihood of sustainability of the strategic plan- Apart from the financing aspect other obstacles and problems
ning and local economic development effort: (i) formulating are prevalent to public housing; the provision of land, social
a broad-based public, private and civil society stakeholder par- amenities and shopping, open areas, available funds for main-
ticipation, that convenes regularly for consultation and follow tenance and housing supply mechanisms. A commitment to
up, and (ii) relying on the overarching umbrella to organize the security of tenure is needed for residents’ sense of owner-
and leverage donor support, with the current commitments ship, to be incentivized to make investments themselves, and
and prospective support from donors [13]. to maintain and care for the assets into the future.
To sum up; On the other hand, according to Cronin; it is fault assuming
Different moods of intervention are standard operations. slum dwellers want to own their home or prioritize housing in
But for successful and sustainable interventions, work should their lives. Informal Settlement dwellers may not care about
depend on choosing a bottom-up operation; where basic needs ownership and security of tenure preferring to rent. There
must be satisfied with broad-based participation. Participation are advantages to renting and even living in Informal Settle-
of locals ensures any successful design of General Strategic ments, which may suit residents best. Many people choose to
Plans of Cities and Villages. This participation process is used live in there, taking advantage of the informal economy, tax
in formulating the long-term vision and identifying develop- evasion, low or no housing rent, subsidized services, charity
ment programs. and sitting outside formal government structures [18].
Five points must be provided in any participation [13]:
6.2. Social challenges
1. Involvement of all stakeholders in the strategy making pro-
cess to ensure feedback and interactive participation; Informal Settlements have been associated with many social
2. A unified strategic development vision; problems such as high levels of poverty, illiteracy and crime.
3. Ownership and sustained commitment of all parties; Not forgetting the inadequate local services, especially health-
4. Integrated mechanisms to implement the strategic develop- care, education and youth facilities. While this perception
ment plan; holds true in reality to varying degrees, it puts a stigma on
5. Harmonizing local and central government planning all informal residents that affects their sense of belonging, cit-
processes. izenship and inclusion in society.
Egypt, like many developing countries, does not have a
Developing a long-term sustainable strategy; upgrading of well-established practice of social and public participation.
Informal Settlements and job creation for their inhabitants; Although a number of leading NGOs have always been invited
and addressing the environmental problems of the area all and actively participated in almost all workshops, in an
are a necessity for an efficient intervention strategy [10]. affluent city such as Alexandria, with many civil society

Please cite this article in press as: D.M. Nassar, H.G. Elsayed, From Informal Settlements to sustainable communities, Alexandria Eng. J. (2017), https://doi.org/
10.1016/j.aej.2017.09.004
6 D.M. Nassar, H.G. Elsayed

organizations and community groups, the number of organiza- 7.1. Site inventory
tions that could not participate has always been greater, there-
fore this issue represents an enormous challenge [13]. At the Houd 10 is nearly 0.25 km2. It is located at the edge of the
national level, there is a lot of support in Egypt for a partici- south east city boundaries which is called ‘‘the green belt”,
patory and more inclusive approach to planning. It is clear near the southern edge of Al-Montazah district, at the south-
that the current political and economic situation has created ern boundaries of Alexandria city. It is administratively man-
a great deal of interest in planning that reflects the needs of aged under khorshid-1 municipality, 6.2 km away from the
the average Egyptian to a greater extent than was necessary water front and 3.15 km away from Mostafa Kamel Road. It
in the past [19]. is surrounded by some rural paths that connect it with nearby
settlements. Houd 10 is poorly connected to public transporta-
6.3. Environmental challenges tions, such as train and bus stations. The only accessibility to
the area is through the extension of Al-Nabawi-El-Mohandes
Informal settlements are threatened by natural and/or man- Road. Transportation is mainly by private mini buses and tri-
made hazards; they cannot withstand disasters. To define cycles. The road is unpaved, narrow and dangerous; it was
the environmental impacts of living in informal settlements once a bypath of Al-Mahmodya Canal1 which was recently
on residents, it must be noticed that the majority of the transformed into a covered agricultural irrigation canal.
threats are related to location where housing or services are Dwellers must reach MostafaKamel Road to find public buses
inadequate [4]. or private transportation, as shown in Fig. 2.
Dwellings in Informal Settlements have no access to proper
sanitation. They are exposed to indoor and outdoor polluted 7.2. Study area profile
water that impact adversely on their health. The improper san-
itation system leads to- when it rains heavily- expose dwellers Houd 10 is growing fast and going through iterative subdivi-
to floods and infectious diseases [20]. sion of agricultural land, with approximately 875 housing
Air pollution in informal settlements is divided into two units. Most of the housing units were built spontaneously by
main types: Stationary sources: including industrial facilities, the locals themselves. As a result, they are degraded structures
thermal power stations, commercial and residential activities. and most of them have no access to services and infra-
Mobile sources: including passenger cars, buses, trucks and structure. The expansion on agricultural land is uncontrolled.
Motorcycles. The most polluting sources of air pollution are Throughout four years, much infringement and degrading on
major industrial sites. Over the years, industry and the cities the agricultural land occurred. Those cases are shown in
grew together, and industrial complexes that used to be at Fig. 3 with an absence of governmental supervision.
the outskirts of the urban area, are now within the center of
the residential areas. The planned industrial zones and 7.3. Demographic profile
unplanned agglomerations of industrial activities result in sev-
eral air pollution hotspots [4]. The population at Houd 10 is approximately 7875 capita
Solid waste includes agricultural, animal, municipal, and according to a survey held in March 2105 by ‘‘Hadedd Hada-
industrial wastes. Solid waste management concluded that fak Charity”, most of them are women and children under the
key limitation of collection and transfer was the lack of mod- age of eighteen. The number of single mothers and widows is
ern mechanical equipment. Ability of doing daily collections is high resulting from early marriage and high unemployment
very poor. Related issues are poor equipment, maintenance, rates among males. The population density is 0.0315 capita/
processing management, lack of waste treatment and valoriza- m2 and it will increase as the area is attracting more population
tion, and lack of sanitary landfills for final disposal [20]. from nearby degraded rural areas.

7. Case Study: Houd 10 Informal Settlement 7.4. Land use and activities analysis

This research presents a case study of an Informal Settlement The area used to be a small rural settlement ‘‘ezba” with most
in Alexandria named; Houd 10. By analyzing its current situ- of its inhabitant working in agriculture. But due to; illegal
ation to better understand local needs and potentials, thus transformation of productive agricultural land into buildings,
transform this slum into a sustainable community [21]. The the absence of government role in supporting agricultural
reason for selecting this case study is that Houd 10 presents activities, as a result agricultural activities degraded and many
one of more than thirty slums with the same situation. The sur- farmers lost their jobs; their income level got worse, so many of
vey took place on the settlement in 2015. This case presents a them got temporary jobs with scrimpy wages, mostly in the
situation of a marginal rural area with unplanned sprawl on construction sector.
agriculture land. More new settlers will eventually continue
to sprawl through iterative densification causing desertification 7.5. Physical building structural analyses
of agricultural land. Houd 10 is becoming part of Alexandria’s
city outskirts, with some hidden positive qualities that can turn Most of buildings are in a deteriorated condition. Some
it into sustainable community. In the following section, the families of seven members live in a one space hut from light
study investigates the buildings’ physical structure, state of 1
El-Mahmoudia Canal is a manmade 45-mile-long sub-canal from
infrastructure, service availability, environmental aspects,
the Nile River. It was built to supply Alexandria with fresh water from
and the socioeconomic situation. A coherent pattern of prob-
the Nile. It goes through Alexandria and ends in the Mediterranean
lems and priorities emerged. Sea in the west port.

Please cite this article in press as: D.M. Nassar, H.G. Elsayed, From Informal Settlements to sustainable communities, Alexandria Eng. J. (2017), https://doi.org/
10.1016/j.aej.2017.09.004
From Informal Settlements to sustainable communities 7

Fig. 2 Accessibility and General Transportation to Houd 10 (Source: Authors).

Fig. 3 Layout in 2011, 2016 Infringement Cases Determined with Yellow (Source: Authors).

Fig. 4 Buildings’ structure type – Houd 10 Slum (Source: Authors).

structure materials, like wood and tin, others live in simple covered with plastic sheets, as seen in Fig. 4. Most of the build-
bearing wall enclosures, built with mud brick and sand lime- ings are no more than two stories with a deteriorated construc-
stone. Roofs are light structured from wood, straw and reed tion condition. Some of the dwellers are threatened of building

Please cite this article in press as: D.M. Nassar, H.G. Elsayed, From Informal Settlements to sustainable communities, Alexandria Eng. J. (2017), https://doi.org/
10.1016/j.aej.2017.09.004
8 D.M. Nassar, H.G. Elsayed

collapse. Dwellers build their homes themselves. Most of these 7.10. Unemployment
shelters are in a hazardous state. Several campaigns were
established with the efforts of non-profit organizations and According to the degradation of farm land, many locals lost
dedicated engineers who donated their efforts and experience their source of income. High unemployment rates, among
for improving living standards for settlers. They mainly the youth and especially women, reaching up to 80%, pre-
worked on installing roofs for the shelters. vented them from reaching basic socio-economic requirements.
They began working in the informal real-estate sector, without
7.6. The services provision any kind of insurance. Many of them had injuries and left with
permanent disability.
More than 20 percent of dwellers have no access to utility net-
works; they obtain their fresh water by filling plastic containers 8. Results and recommendations for sustaining Houd 10
from an open water channel or a public tap from the same
source. The drainage network is mostly in a subterranean
At the end of the investigation analyses, the research attends to
trench or into agricultural land causing serious health issues,
present recommendations that can transform Houd 10 into a
as seen in Fig. 5. Available water supply networks are done
sustainable community. These recommendations can be
by charity organizations.2 A water purification plant is needed
applied on other nearby settlements, thus improve their envi-
to prevent diseases caused by polluted water, for providing the
ronmental, social and economic situation.
essential need for potable water. Electricity is usually the first
Results from the site survey are laid in a group of investiga-
service to be provided in Informal Settlements, due to its ease
tion maps prepared by the investigation team in 2015. The
of installation. Nearly 40 percent of dwellers that are illegally
maps present analyses of the land use, services, building
connected to the electricity service have compromised their sta-
heights and structural condition, as seen in investigation maps
tus with the government.
of Fig. 6. Information in these maps is needed for proposing an
upgrade project for Houd 10. This sustainable project gener-
7.7. Health care ates a permanent improvement in the quality of life of the peo-
ple involved. Because a sustainable project is one that
One health unit was built by local efforts. It suffers from over- permanently augments a community’s resources and hence
crowding. Physicians work part time, only once a week, with it’s social initiative and social capital thus, reducing its
no availability of all specialties. Most of dwellers resort to vulnerability.
charity organizations to afford their treatment, because most Key point towards transforming Houd 10 into a sustainable
of the locals have no medical insurance. community:
Waste management is not available. Waste disposal and
animal bodies are thrown in water channels, causing diseases  Maximizing economic growth and reducing unemployment
and environmental pollution. by creating job opportunities with small capital-intensive.
That will be in light industries like; food processing, small
7.8. Education mechanical workshops, small clothes workshops also some
furniture and carpentry relying on nearby agriculture prod-
There is only one school for both the primary and preparatory ucts. This will also create job opportunities in the services’
stages and the nearest one is 3 km away. This school was estab- sector, like light transportation and recharging batteries
lished by one of the notable families in the area. Classes are of agricultural equipment.
overcrowded with more than 70 pupils and some of them have  Investing in successful rapidly growing business sectors,
no place to sit. There is no secondary school nearby, so most such as manufacturing, and agricultural activities, like sup-
students do not continue their education. porting manufacturing or the processing of food garments
sewing, detergent mixing, simple farming, and animal
7.9. Women husbandry.
 Educating future generations, which means sequentially a
As a result of bad inherited habits, most women are illiterate; higher level of living and better live hood environment, con-
they do not complete their elementary education. Because of sidering different programs that enhance the growth of
poverty, families force their very young daughters into mar- activities and thus sustain the levels of employment and cre-
riage. They call it an ‘‘Orf” marriage in front of a religious ate better job opportunities.
man because they are under the legal age of marriage. Unfor-  Developing services, housing design, and transportation, to
tunately young women end up divorced with children. Some of expand the potential employment pool in the area.
them are under twenty with no legal rights, protection or edu-  Building a secondary school for girls will help in women’s
cation. Most of those single mothers depend on financial aids empowerment.
from charities. They are unable to send their children to school  Creating social urban spaces allow the diversity of cultural,
or afford their education. educational and social environment.
 Encouraging the project of ‘‘Eradication of Illiteracy” from
voluntarily institutions, especially for women and young
adults. This enables them to compete in the labor market.
2  In-cooperating with the civilian society training programs,
‘‘Resala” since 1999, <http://resala.org/> and ‘‘Hadded Hadfak”
sice 2008, <https://www.facebook.com/hadded.hadfak/> are two
which can be held for different skills according to labor
NGOs working in Egypt. market demands.

Please cite this article in press as: D.M. Nassar, H.G. Elsayed, From Informal Settlements to sustainable communities, Alexandria Eng. J. (2017), https://doi.org/
10.1016/j.aej.2017.09.004
From Informal Settlements to sustainable communities 9

Fig. 5 Drainage directly discharged in the irrigation channel (Source: Authors).

Fig. 6 Houd 10 investigation maps from up left clockwise: land use, building heights, building structure systems, available water supply.
(Source: Authors).

 In-cooperating with the government, it is possible to reacti-  Recycling organic waste is the best way to manage agricultural
vate the role of the agricultural bank for providing seeds and organic wastes, because most of the quantities of agricul-
and fodder to farmers. tural waste in Houd 10 are generated from cotton and other
 Restoring the agricultural education for farmers. crops, while the lowest quantities are generated from rice straw.
 A water purification plant is needed to prevent diseases therefore they can be used for the following purposes [22]:
caused by polluted water and for providing the essential – Green fodder for animals and the work stacks fertilizer
need for potable water. compost.

Please cite this article in press as: D.M. Nassar, H.G. Elsayed, From Informal Settlements to sustainable communities, Alexandria Eng. J. (2017), https://doi.org/
10.1016/j.aej.2017.09.004
10 D.M. Nassar, H.G. Elsayed

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Please cite this article in press as: D.M. Nassar, H.G. Elsayed, From Informal Settlements to sustainable communities, Alexandria Eng. J. (2017), https://doi.org/
10.1016/j.aej.2017.09.004