R for Right to Housing, Cairo, Egypt


Image credits: http://www.posterfortomorrow.org/en/projects/home-for-everyone

According to the United Nation’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the right to housing includes protection against forced evictions or arbitrary destruction of one’s home, the right to be free from interference in personal and family matters in the home, the right to choose where to live and to move freely from one place to another. The right includes entitlements to security of tenure; housing, land, and property restitution; equal access to adequate housing; and participation in the decision-making process related to housing issues at all levels of government.

The right to an adequate standard of living is the unconditional right of all individuals to a “standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11).

“The [Egyptian] government, at times, has used forced evictions to relocate residents to peripheral areas of the city without any amount of citizen consultation or participation in the process. These evictions were not only unpopular and a violation of human rights, but they have done little to stem the flow of migrants to the center of the city. This approach ignores the social aspects of informal settlements and the culture of the sha`b, where neighbors are sometimes willing to sacrifice their personal needs for the benefit of the neighbors or the needy. The street culture in sha`bi areas is central to the vibrancy of these areas—weddings, funeral customs, working, playing, socializing, and commerce are all tied to these public spaces and social capital, which are destroyed when communities are displaced to other areas.”


According to David Wilcox’s Guide to Effective Participation, the different levels of participation are:

(a) Information
(b) Consultation
(c) Deciding Together
(d) Acting Together
(e) Supporting Independent Community Interests

The TADAMUN Initiative believes that all citizens have an equal right to their city, as well as a shared responsibility towards it, and that solidarity among citizens is the only way to achieve social justice and a decent standard of living, particularly for many who have been ignored for too long. TADAMUN strives to work with all stakeholders as it builds alliances and coalitions to encourage change and introduces realistic alternatives and solutions for existing urban problems.  The initiative carries community workshops to develop and understand different neighborhoods in Cairo from the perspective of those who know it best; its residents.

“What we need is not more undemocratic and elitist decisions, but for all citizens to claim and demand their urban rights and to devise new urban policies that are more effective, equitable, participatory, and sustainable.”


Case study:

Community Workshop| `Izbit Khayrallah, Cairo, Egypt

Throughout the workshops, participants are distributed into small groups and are asked to draw a map of their area. No instruction is given to influence the type of information or format used.


The workshop consisted of three main sections:

  • Map Your Neighborhood

[The mapping exercise illustrates the residents’ unique perspectives of their area. Although participants drew maps with varying scales, it was obvious that there were common information throughout regarding main important landmarks in the neighborhood. Despite the similarities mentioned above, each map portrayed different information with different perspectives.]

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  • Izbit Khayrallah Potentials
  • Izbit Khayrallah Problems

[The problems facing the residents of `Izbit Khayrallah were summed up by one participant, who explained that the marginalization by the government is the cause of all their problems.]

If I were the District Chief, I would…

At the end of the workshop, participants were asked what would be their priority if they were the District Chief. Many participants were aware of the limited power that the position of the district chief has, and that solving the area’s problems need the backing of a higher position.


Link to Workshop

Further Workshops 

Further Related Readings [Initiatives  –  Articles]


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