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International report

The residents of Cairo's garbage city: innovative and self-sufficient

Audio 04:51
Woman takes a break from sorting garbage
Woman takes a break from sorting garbage Rfi / Pedro Costa Gomes

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi was officially re-elected for a second term at the start of this month.During his first term, he initiated many infrastructure projects and economic reforms which many are hoping will eventually stabilize the country both financially and socially.But in one neglected area of Cairo, the work of the residents and ngos has been the driving force behind its improvement.The Zabaleen area, or garbage city is 90 percent coptic after many christians moved to the city during the 1930s and 40s from the poorer areas in the south.To make ends meet, they continued their tradition of raising pigs and other animals.They soon discovered that they could actually make some money in collecting and organizing the waste---things of value could be resold while organic waste could be used as food for their animals.But by 1969, under the presidency of Gamal Abd el-Nasser, the zabaleen living in the city were rounded up and forcibly brought to live in a remote part of the they could raise their pigs in peace.What grew from that point is a slum which has been neglected by both the government and social organizations for many years until only recently.Rfi's Anne-Marie Bissada has this report:

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