2012 | Rod El Farag Project | Initiative for Integrated Community Development | Egypt

Egyptians still remember what it felt like, in the aftermath of the 18 days of the January 25 – February 11 revolution, walking in the streets looking at smiling faces of complete strangers who seemed like close friends. “I remember stopping a street vendor and asking him to take away some trash he left behind explaining that we had a responsibility towards the city and he immediately obeyed feeling no grudge and even agreeing warmly”, said Dr Zeinab El Sanabary, a strong willed lady and a leading Ophthalmologist with tears in her eyes that did not dare to roll down. Similar stories are told all over the place comparing a moment of utter utopian perfection to a chaotic present.
The team gathered to work on structuring Rod El Farag initiative is a cross functional team of development professionals, urban developers and concerned citizens who understand perfectly that a revolution is not an act of immediate change but a glorious inauguration to a long process of growth and maturity. Being experienced professionals each in his/ her own field means to them that they have a responsibility to act towards such a goal.
The choice to work with the residents of Rod El Farag, a neighbourhood at the heart of Cairo, is a conscious choice knowing that what created the utopian euphoria at a moment of time is the fact that people were empowered and had a strong sense of ownership of their own country and their own destiny. Thereby, they acted responsibly. This sense of ownership and freedom of choice can be restored and restructured by supporting people to explore their capabilities and to make better use of their existing assets in order to rebuild their environs and their lives. In effect the World Bank’s World Development Report 2000/1, Attacking Poverty, advances similar arguments noting that the combat against poverty is most effective when people have the opportunity to decide for themselves, are empowered and feel secure (Lustig & Stern 2001).
The visibility and centrality of the area is meant to send a strong message of empowerment and inspiration to the wider population as they observe the process of transformation in the physical environment along with the growth of the human capital. The process should develop integrated business models and should also create positive political engagement.
About The Project
The community development initiative is targeting the Rod El Farag quarter, a disadvantaged old locality resting immediately at the rear of a glamorous touristic neighbourhood overlooking the Nile shores with a number of deluxe hotels.
The main objective is to turn the locality into a socially and economically integrated community by making proper linkages between its residents and the surrounding commercial, business, and touristic neighbourhoods to maximize the benefit for all stakeholders and to empower a communal growth towards sustainable development.
The restoration and upgrading of this particular locality could be an opportunity for a neighbouring booming tourism industry to have an attractive historic old town right at its doorsteps. Shoring up, instead of bulldozing the area and the small industries, crafts and trade, will add to its attraction and viability.
A multi layered participatory approach will be used in order to ensure ownership and long-term sustainability. The initiative is employing an innovative integrative approach with government support aligned with the needs of the local community and is reaching out to the neighbouring businesses, in order to have the full participation of all stakeholders wherein social, environmental and financial benefits are all achievable at the same time.
The course of action should eventually assist the residents to make better decisions on their own, and improve their quality of lives economically, socially, environmentally, and culturally.
The Area
The following are some pictures taken from the area showing the diversity of the community and the cultural landscape of Rod El Farage:
Programme Objective
The main objective is to turn the Al Adaweya community into a socially and economically integrated business unit by making proper linkages between all stakeholders: Al Adaweya residents and the surrounding commercial business and touristic neighbourhoods to maximise the benefit for all and to empower a communal growth towards sustainable development .
This can be achieved by:
• Establishing an arts and culture community centre to host community-based activities to target, educate and train the residents and the youth through arts.
• Upgrading the physical environment of the neighbourhood with a focus on the restoration and maintenance of the historic old architecture
• Creating awareness among the residents of the historical, cultural and potentially economic value of their old buildings and the neighbourhood
• Creating awareness among the neighbouring tourism industry of the potential benefits of the upgrading plans to their investments and involve them in supporting these plans.
• Establishing a communal mechanism of decision making where by the residents and the different stakeholders jointly decide the future of their neighbourhood.
• Enhancing and upgrading the local artisans’ skills and link them to high end markets as well as train them to acquire new competencies in addressing the needs of potential markets
• Introducing a micro-finance program to stimulate the development of enterprise with emphasis on the arts, crafts and culture fields
• Introducing, in collaboration with the neighbouring tourism industry and the private sector, new employment and income generating opportunities, with special focus on empowering women.
• Improving the teaching and learning process in the school at the locality and improve the physical conditions of the school and it’s building
• Establishing a legal assistance and legal mediation unit to assist the residents in settling ownership and rent disputes and to help them with government permissions and legal procedures to introduce the necessary physical changes in the district.

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