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Egypt-Urban Planning and Design


Egyptian urban areas and agricultural land are affected by rapid urbanization and informal urban growth, especially at the fringe of the cities where informal urban expansions develop. Triggered by the enormous loss of agricultural land to informal urban sprawl and the lack of effective and efficient planning mechanisms, the General Organization for Physical Planning (GOPP) has initiated several multi-level urban planning projects. It is well underway in the preparation of general strategic plans for cities and villages; however the anticipated results of the planning efforts have been inadequate. It is in this context that GOPP initiated the technical cooperation with UN-Habitat to update and revise its strategic planning approach in order to ensure a more inclusive, flexible and implementable planning methodology.

Already in the mid-1970s, the Egyptian Government commenced the creation of New Cities on desert land, as part of a general strategy to tackle the complex problems challenging Egyptian settlements. New Urban Communities were thought as an effective solution to the problems of rapid encroachment on agricultural land, deteriorating urban fabric, and low-quality of living. However, the New Urban Communities have not been as successful as hoped in achieving development objectives due to the lack of securing effective resident population, accommodating a balanced socio-economic mix, enabling lower income groups, achieving relative independence and autonomy, and providing sustainable living and quality settings

Nubia, Aswan, 2012. Photo© UN-Habitat

Nubia, Aswan, 2012. Photo© UN-Habitat

Programme Goal and Expected Accomplishments

The Strategic Urban Planning and Design Programme aims to promote sustainable urban development in Egypt by supporting the Egyptian Government to improve the urban planning processes and methodologies. It proposes an approach that updates urban planning theories which will revive the sustainable relationship between urban dwellers and urban space. This approach is based on five principles: the adequate space for streets and an efficient street network, compact urban areas with adequate densities, mixed land-use, social mix, and limited land-use specialization. The programme provides the Egyptian Government with spatial planning and strategic urban development schemes that reflect a strategic development vision at national and regional levels, as well as address local aspirations and needs as stated below:

  1. Strengthen the capacity of local governments and develop tools which ensures the strategic urban and detailed development plans provided by GOPP are implemented at the local level;
  2. Support the establishment of effective urban mobility instruments, promoting economic activity and social participation;
  3. Improve and inspire national planning practices: urban resilience, vulnerability to climate change, and revitalization of inner city areas (urban infill);
  4. Enhance community engagement in planning practices at all levels.
Strategic Urban Plans for Small Cities in Egypt (October 2006 - July 2015)

The project aimed to enhance the planning methods and tools adopted by the Egyptian Government in order to prepare Strategic Urban Plans which respond to local priorities in an efficient and realistic manner. The project partnered with the government in order to provide technical and policy support. This included encouraging policy dialogue on urban development issues as well as strengthening the technical capacity of the national/ territorial Urban Observatory network.

It also contributed to improve performance and accountability in programming the development of the city, especially those that reduce exclusion and vulnerabilities in Egypt. The main objectives of the assignment were to assess the existing shelter, basic urban services and economic situation in cities while integrating these analyses into a comprehensive Strategic Urban Plan. The stakeholders constituted the framework ensuring consistency among local development plans. The ownership of the process developed synergies among public and private stakeholders which guided towards an effective economic and social development of cities.

The key partner was the General Organization for Physical Planning. The project was funded by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Communities.

Strategic Development Plan for Greater Cairo Region 2050 (August 2008 – December 2014)

The preparation of the Strategic Development Plan for the Greater Cairo Region followed an innovative methodology and encouraged wide stakeholder participation throughout the process (more than 1,600 experts and officials were consulted through 39 workshops). The main objective of the Strategic Development Plan was to achieve sustainable development of the capital city’s metropolitan area, based on a comprehensive strategy supported by a stakeholder-agreed-vision.

This includes the reflection of regional priorities and the sustainable handling of natural resources, incorporation of needs and aspirations of people living in districts of the metropolis. Moreover, job creation induced by the implementation of the Greater Cairo Region Strategic Development Plan is envisaged. Not to mention infrastructure upgrading and the improvement of the urban environment as a whole. The Greater Cairo Region Strategic Development Plan represents the meeting point for national and regional policies as well as local aspirations, through short, medium and long term.

The key partner was the General Organization of Physical Planning. The project was funded by Ministry of Housing and Urban Communities.

Achieving Sustainable Urban Development Priorities – ASUD Egypt, Part II – New City Development (August 2013 - July 2015)

This project aimed to ensure that urbanization is achieved in a controlled and sustainable manner, and that the expected socio-economic benefits deriving from this process translate into equitable and efficient urban settlement patterns. The project addressed capacity building in the fields of urban planning and design, land legislation and management, local economic development, youth employment and other cross cutting issues such as mobility and energy. The Strategic Urban Planning and Development Programme focuses on the component related to sustainable urban development of new cities as extensions. An efficient urban form also contributes to the protection of urban hinterland and ecosystems that cities depend on.

In many ways, the advantages of sustainable communities are underlined in the characteristics and definitions of urban sustainability. Therefore, GOPP and NUCA in cooperation with UN-Habitat’s technical support, adopted the strategic planning methodology to formulate an integrated and comprehensive development framework for new cities based on the concept of Green Cities. Hence, al-Alamein New City was developed as a pilot for a more sustainable generation of new cities in Egypt.

The key partners were the Ministry of Housing and Urban Communities, the Ministry of Local Development, the General Organization for Physical Planning, New Urban Communities Authority and the al-Alamein local government. The project was funded by the Spanish Government.

Cairo Integrated Mobility Project

As a joint-programme between the Ministry of Housing and Urban Communities, the Ministry of Transport, the United Nations Development Programme and UN-Habitat, this project aims at increasing the capacity for public transportation across the Greater Cairo Region agglomeration whilst integrating it with existing modes of travel. It is a two-tiered project with the primary goal being the development and implementation of a Bus Rapid Transit system and the subsequent promotion of greater non-motorized transport infrastructure in Cairo. The concept aims to integrate various existing transport infrastructure – namely, the Metro system and the Cairo Transport Authority Bus Lines – with low-cost, low-infrastructure systems, in order to reduce traffic congestion.

Development of El Alamein New Town

UN-Habitat is supporting Egypt in the development of its fourth generation of New Towns. This project is based in Al-Alamein, a New Town located 3 hours away by car from Caïro, along the Mediterranean Sea. The town is of historical significance because it was a battleground in WWII and holds several war cemeteries. The New Town is expected to accommodate 1-2.5 million new inhabitants. The New Town development Strategy for EL Alamein and a Planned City Extension Concept Plan for Banha were prepared and approved. UN-Habitat is also supporting Citywide planning for 64 small towns in Egypt.

Project duration: 2014-2016

Rapid Planning

This project is located in Assiut. Its objective is to develop a rapid trans-sectoral urban-regional planning methodology with a focus on urban basic services, specifically targeting supply and disposal infrastructure. The service sectors covered by the project include energy, water, waste water, solid waste and urban agriculture.

The methodology will help to address the city’s’ challenges in the following areas: at the national level – to development a model that can inform national planning and be duplicated to other cities in Egypt; at the city level – to revisit urban planning for the city and enhance methodology for a better response to the requirements of city and hinterland; and at the local level – to develop concrete interventions that contribute to better living conditions in the city.

Duration of project: Sep 2014 – Dec 2019
Budget (Value): USD 533, 118
Donor: German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF)
Implementing Partners: City of Assiut

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