Qalyubeya Governorate (Khosoos and Khanka Cities), Egypt

Integrated Community Based Solid Waste Management project



Qalyubeya Governorate is part of Greater Cairo, which is one of the largest urban areas in Africa, with a mosaic of sub-cities where over 20 million people live. Rapid urbanization has caused an increase in informal housing areas, informal enterprises and growing inequality, which also affect the informal waste collectors and recyclers known as Zabaleen in Egypt. These communities are now critical in promoting urban sustainability as Cairo continues to grow. Every year, more than 21 million tons of municipal waste is generated and the city would not be able to manage this escalating volume of waste in an effective and environmentally sound manner, without the contribution of the these informal waste pickers, living around the cities of Khosoos and Khanka in the Qalyubeya Governorate.

This initiative was therefore chosen to recognize the innovative, integrated approach, which Qalyubeya has taken to manage waste management issues. There is a strong positive social, economic and environmental impact, affecting the lives of over 750,000 inhabitants and improving the living and working conditions of 20,000 informal waste collectors and recyclers residing in this area. These communities usually face challenges of stigmatization, social exclusion, poverty and serious health problems resulting from the hazardous substances that they collect everyday.

This team from the Qalyubeya Governorate, working with the Zabaleen, promoted several initiatives:

1. The Zabaleen created companies and collect waste on behalf of the District;

2. They now use more efficient motorized tricycles, which navigate the narrow streets and bring it to a transfer station, newly constructed by the governorate;

3. The city converts the waste to fuel for sale, at an Integrated Recycling Resource Center (IRRC), separating recyclables and Refused Driven Fuel (RDF) used by the cement industry.

4. The city is also developing an emergency unit that can deal generally with urgent health cases and particularly with frequent occupational injuries faced by this group of waste workers. 

Nationally, the Qalyubeya experience serves as a model for the national solid waste management strategy and is now being promoted for replication. Locally, the initiative creates livelihood opportunities for the urban poor in Khosoos and Khanka cities and improves the overall environmental conditions for creating a better living environment.