Description and critical evaluation of an urban policy

Housing urban policy in Egypt

Essay, 2008

24 Pages, Grade: B



There are quite a lot of urban policies that cover different urban sectors, they include housing, transportation, recreation, slums upgrading and urban renewal. Among these different policies, the urban housing policy of Egypt has been chosen to be discussed within this paper. The Egyptian housing policy is one of the most important policies within the state, since it is formulated to address the crucial housing problem that concerns the poor all over Egypt. This paper also assesses the Government’s interventions that took place as part of this policy. Although, lots of achievements have been done as a result of this policy, however, only few of them succeeded in addressing the needs of the poor. Moreover, a comparison between one successful model of low-income housing and one failed model is illustrated within this paper.


Housing provision for low income groups in urban areas in Egypt like in many other developing countries is considered one of the most critical problems challenging the state. There are many drivers caused the inefficiency in housing provision in Egypt, the most notably are the changes of the socio-economic circumstances, the rapid population growth and its associated spatial growth. In spite of the big total area that Egypt has (one million square kilometres), around six percent of this area is an inhabitable area, which for the most part located along the Nile river and the Nile delta. The concentration of the population only in these areas, leaving the rest of the country covered by desert, created immense pressure on arable land, and forced many people to migrate from rural areas to urban ones. At the end it resulted in the rise of different trends in housing sector in Egypt; remarkably are the informal settlements and the establishments of new towns (Feiler, 1990; Bernard, 1992).

It is agreed that shelter is one of the primary basic needs of human being. It is not only about providing protection from the sun, rain, wind, cold, heat, and storms. It is more than a “roof overhead”; it is not only about living in healthy and environmentally friendly conditions that supplied with sufficient facilities of heat, water, sanitation, solid and human wastes disposal, but also about living in an appropriate location which will enable them to have access to different services like jobs, transportation, education, medical facilities and recreation (World Bank, 1980).

The conditions of any shelter and accordingly any settlement should satisfy the different human needs; the physical, the economic, the social and the psychological. Bearing in mind that the condition of human settlements to a great extent influences the quality of life, the improvement of any settlement is essential for the full satisfaction of basic needs, such as employment, housing, health services, education and recreation (World Bank, 1980) .Therefore, the success criteria for any housing policy are to provide a shelter for every citizen and to make sure that the conditions of every shelter will fulfil these different human needs.

Figure 1:elter as an essential human basic needs

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: (2008)

Adapted from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs

Addressing the housing problem:-

The major policy attempts of the Egyptian Government to the housing shortage over the last ten years have been through undertaken rent control acts, soft- term loans to middle and lower income sectors and the construction of New Towns (Feiler, 1990).

However, very recently and through the election campaign of President Mubarak, the National Housing Project has been announced as one of the Projects aiming atlving the problem of housing . The main aim of this project is to supply affordable 500000 housing units on 6 year term basis for youth and low income groups. In order to achieve that, the state provides one billion pounds, on annual basis, as subsidy that enables each entitled applicant to get LE 15000[1]non refundable grant to get a housing unit (HUUC Portal, 2008).

In 2007, The Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif declared before People’s Assembly, the Government’s National Action Plan which encompasses several housing projects aiming at providing sufficient housing for all groups within the society especially the low income groups. For that purpose the Government provides free land, on which, affordable houses can be built. It also offers mortgage that enables them to deposit a small down payment attached with long term instalments. “We are targeting for 85 thousand housing units/year throughout the governorates to cater for youth and limited income categories. Actually, I instructed the Minister of Housing to coordinate with the governors for identifying the best sites suitable for the construction… will also increase the volume of supply in the areas where citizens actually prefer to reside”, said the Prime Minister. Another component is included also in the National Housing Project, it is about upgrading the urban planning environment in both rural areas and cities, the aim of this component is to re-plan the Egyptian village and provide the necessary services and infrastructure according to the actual needs of each specified village. In addition to, a national project for developing and improving the disadvantaged areas either within or around the different cities (SIS, 2008).

In general, the major roles that the Egyptian government play in the housing sector is divided into four main roles; the urban planning, the urban development, the provision of infrastructure for housing and the construction of housing units (EHDR, 2004)

The main features of the Housing Policies in Egypt:-

Hanna (1996) claims that drawing the housing policy in Egypt is not different than formulating any other policies within the state. It has the same stages of any policy making process that aims at the end to bring a certain vision into reality and to fill in a current gap. On the other hand, housing policy has its own speciality which makes it different than any other policy in the following ways. Firstly the housing policy requires caution in planning to ensure the availability of adequate resources that required for implementing the proposed housing projects.condly, it does not require the availability of human and financial resources only but it also involves other technical, economic and administrative aspects. Thirdly, before establishing any new residential settlement it should consider the availability of nearby economic, social, educational, health and recreation facilities in order to ensure its effectiveness and sustainability (Hanna, 1996).

Moreover, housing policy should be developed in a long term basis as establishing new settlements consumes several years in planning and designing before the constructions could take place, also it should be considered that the after constructing any houses it is difficult to change it or relocate it which requires a detailed study for the different needs of different target groups. It also, reflects the political ideology of the country and its social context, like what happened during Nasser’s era (1952- 1970) when the Government adopted the socialism ideology, the housing policy was directed to provide houses with subsidised rents for the poor, the houses at that time were built all over the governorates in the “Public”[2]types, while when adopting the Open Door economy duringdat’s era (1970- 1980), the rented houses has disappeared and replaced by owned houses and flats in high residential towers. (Hanna, 1996)

Hanna (1996) added the effective housing policy should look at the whole picture of the country and not to focus on one area than the other and to consider the future demands of the new generations, he explained this point by highlighting the factor of the rural-urban migration and especially towards Cairo that urged the government to focus on solving the problems of the pressures of population density in the capital by establishing more new settlements while leaving other governorates neglected. He also criticised the Egyptian housing Policy for not paying enough attention to the maintenance of old buildings to the same degree of focusing on constructing new houses (Hanna, 1996).

The housing policies for lower- income urban residents are developed to serve different goals. First of all, is the elimination of dangerous housing units from the housing stock and replace it with better housing for their residents. Another goal is to distribute the benefits of any housing programme to a wide range of people as much as possible. Thirdly to empower the beneficiaries and strengthening their capabilities by involving them in the planning and implementation processes for improving their housing. At last, the preservation of the historic sites and building that socially valued by people even the poor (Abu-Lughod, 1981


[1]One British Pound= 11.5 Egyptian Pound (LE abbreviation for Egyptian Pound in French).

[2]Public housing: is the term that used for the houses that built during Nasser’s regime and still exist till this moment. These houses were built in the way to ensure that all people are equal and hence should have the same shelter types and should live close to each others. Public houses are multi-story buildings that contain number of flats of the same area.

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Description and critical evaluation of an urban policy
Housing urban policy in Egypt
University of Birmingham  (International Development Department)
Urban Development
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Description, Housing, Egypt
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Nabila EL-Gabalawi (Author), 2008, Description and critical evaluation of an urban policy, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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