The informal sector in waste recycling in egypt2

1,394 views

Published on

Published in: Business, News & Politics
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total views
1,394
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
1
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
26
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

The informal sector in waste recycling in egypt2

  1. 1. THE INFORMAL SECTOR IN WASTE RECYCLING IN EGYPT Report Submitted to GTZ MAY 2008 Submitted to GTZ by
  2. 2. Table of ContenetsABBREVIATIONS ............................................................................................................................ 4GLOSSARY OF EGYPTIAN TERMS .................................................................................................... 5INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................................ 6METHODOLOGY ............................................................................................................................ 6Chapter 1: Historical Descriptive Narrative of Egypt’s SWM Situation ............................................ 8 1.1 Actors in the Informal Recycling Economy ........................................................................... 8 1.1.1 The Traditional Waste Collectors (Zabbaleen) ........................................................... 8 1.1.2 Roamers (Sarriiha).................................................................................................. 10 1.1.3 Robabekia and Saxonia Peddlers ............................................................................ 10 1.1.4 Middlemen and Intermediary Buyers/Dealers ......................................................... 10 1.1.5 Wholesale Merchants of Recoverable from Roamers ............................................... 10 1.2 Formal Actors in the Solid Waste System .................................................................... 11 1.2.1 Local Level Government ...................................................................................... 11 1.2.2 Ministries.............................................................................................................. 11 1.2.3 The Formal Private Sector....................................................................................... 13 1.2.4 Donors and Private Supporters ............................................................................... 14 1.2.5 Residents and Commercial Waste Generators ........................................................ 15 1.3 Adaptive Strategies of the Informal Recycling Sector ..................................................... 15Chapter 2: Overview of the Institutional Framework of Informal Waste Workers .......................... 17 2.1 Informality of Shelter is linked to Informality of Livelihood ................................................ 18 2.2 ..... Business Aspects of Informality: International Contracting Threatens a Dynamic Recycling Sector ..................................................................................................................................... 20 2.2.1 Response to Markets.............................................................................................. 20 2.2.3 Ownership of Land, Sorting Space and other Assets ............................................... 20 2.2.4 Capital ................................................................................................................... 21 2.2.5 Labor and Wages ................................................................................................... 21 2.2.6 Growth in Recycling Enterprises ............................................................................. 21 2.2.7 Trading Networks .................................................................................................. 21 2.2.8 Specialized Trading Towns and Centers ................................................................. 22 2.3 Informal Sector Recyclers: Private Business Partners to Large Industry ........................... 22 2.3.1 Livelihoods, Income and Employment..................................................................... 23 2.3.2 Exploitation of Household Waste Collectors by Middlemen ..................................... 24The Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 1
  3. 3. 2.3.3 Competition for the Waste by Scavengers ............................................................... 24 2.3.4 Residents’ Displeasure ........................................................................................... 24 2.3.5 Resettlement Issues ............................................................................................... 24 2.4 Challenges Faced by Informal Sector Recyclers .............................................................. 25 2.4.1 Poor Ability to Organize ..................................................................................... 25 2.4.2 Lack of Transparency of the System ...................................................................... 25 2.4.3 Financial Constraints ............................................................................................ 26 2.4.4 Legal and Contractual Obstacles .......................................................................... 26 2.4.5 Social Issues Related to Stigma of Trade and Perception of Society at Large ................ 26 2.4.6 Need for Skills Upgrading – Training ..................................................................... 26 2.4.7 Operational Issues ................................................................................................ 26 2.4.8 Informality ............................................................................................................ 27 2.4.9 Difficulty in Acquiring and Asserting Ownership of Property ................................... 27 2.4.10 Inadequate Market Information and Market Intelligence ......................................... 27 2.5 Non-Profit Community Groups ..................................................................................... 27 2.5.1. Association of Garbage Collectors for Community Development (AGCCD) .................. 27 2.5.2. Association for the Protection of the Environment (APE)............................................. 28 2.5.3 Spirit of Youth for Environmental Services (SoY).......................................................... 28 2.6 Lessons Learned from the Various Institutional Actors ...................................................... 28 2.6.1 Lesson One: Recycling of Source Segregated Waste Dignifies the Trade and Generates Income ............................................................................................................... 28 2.6.2 Lesson Two: Source Segregation of Household Waste into Two Fractions (Organic and Non Organic) is Feasible ............................................................................................... 29 2.6.3 Lesson Three: The Regularity of Service and Efficiency in Recovery are Based on Inherent Incentives to Collectors Who are Recyclers: ............................................................ 32 2.6.4 Lesson Four: Motivated by Profit and armed with Market Information the Informal Sector Recovers High Levels of Industrial Waste all over Egypt ............................................. 33 2.6.5 Lesson Five: It is Possible to Institutionalize Informal Sector Models of Clean Recovery and Recycling of Institutional Waste .................................................................................... 34 2.6.6 Lesson Six: Informal Sector and Formal Private Sector Interests Converge around Brand Name Fraud, 2000 .................................................................................................... 35Chapter 3: Integration of Informal Waste Workers in Formal Systems: Legal, Institutional andTechnical Aspects ....................................................................................................................... 36 3.1 Solid Waste Management Legal Framework ....................................................................... 36 3.1.1 Other Laws Address Specific Aspects of Waste: ................................................... 36 3.1.2 Solid Waste Management Specifications Related to Recycling in law 38/67 and its Executive Regulations: ........................................................................................................ 38The Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 2
  4. 4. 3.1.3 Other Laws and Regulations: .................................................................................. 39 3.1.4 Challenges Related to Law Enforcement ................................................................. 39 3.1.5 Laws Related to the Formalization & Licensing of Businesses .............................. 39Chapter 4: Assessment of Integration Process of Informal Waste Workers ................................... 44 4.1 Awareness and Information Dissemination ........................................................................ 45 4.2 Actions towards Formalization of Businesses .................................................................. 45 4.2.1 Registration through Local Authority .......................................................................... 45 4.2.2 Recourse to Registering with the SFD ......................................................................... 46 4.2.3 Fear of Taxation ......................................................................................................... 47 4.2.4 Complexities of Formalization of Land Tenure............................................................ 47 4.2.5 Cooperating with the Industrial Modernization Center (IMC) ....................................... 48Chapter 5: Lessons Learned, Conclusions and Recommendations................................................ 51The Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 3
  5. 5. ABBREVIATIONSAmCham American Chamber of CommerceAGCCD Association of Garbage Collectors for Community DevelopmentASMAE Les Amis de Soeur EmmanuelleAOYE Arab Office for Youth & EnvironmentAPE Association for the Protection of the EnvironmentBMZ German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and DevelopmentCCBA Cairo Cleansing and Beautification AuthorityCAPMAS Central Agency for Public Mobilization and StatisticsCCFD Comite Catholique Contre la Faim et Pour le DevelopmentCDA Community Development AssociationsCID CID ConsultingCRS Catholic Relief ServicesDanida Danish International Development AssistanceEEAA Egyptian Environmental Affairs AgencyEIA Environmental Impact AssessmentsEMU Environmental Management UnitsEPAP Egyptian Pollution Abatement ProgramEQI Environmental Quality InternationalFCC Federal Communications CommissionFEI Federation of Egyptian IndustriesFinnida Finnish International Development AgencyGCBA Giza Cleaning and Beautification AgencyGOPP General Organization for Physical PlanningGTZ German Technical CooperationIMC Industrial Modernization CenterMRF Materials Recovery FacilityMSW Municipal Solid WasteNGO Non Governmental OrganizationPET Polyethylene TerephthalatePVC Polyvinyl ChlorideRBO Regional Branch OfficeSEAM Support for Environmental Assessment and ManagementSFD Social Fund for DevelopmentSME Small & Medium EnterpriseSWM Solid Waste ManagementUNDP United Nations Development ProgramUSAID United States Agency for International DevelopmentThe Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 4
  6. 6. GLOSSARY OF EGYPTIAN TERMSCAIRENES: inhabitants of CairoFUUL MEDAMMES: popular Egyptian local dish made of fava beansLAE’ITA: scavenge and collect the waste by picking through dumps, landfills, and street binsMO’ALLEM (pl. MO’ALLEMEEN): Middlemen and intermediary buyers/dealers who own small-scaledepots. They live inside and outside of the garbage collectors neighborhoods. Some used to begarbage collectors themselves, others were never in that trade; both were able to accumulatecapital to acquire space to store large quantities of recoverables. They sell to wholesalers andlarge buyers of non organic waste.ROBABEKIA and SAXONIA Peddlers: an age-old group of people trading in old, used, and unwantedhousehold items, and exist throughout Greater Cairo and most other Governorates in Egypt.,TOGGAR (singular “tager”): Wholesale Merchants of Recoverables from Roamers:.SARRIIH (pl. SARRIIHA): Egyptian term for roamer or scavenger: Sarrih clandestine search wastebins for recoverable. Unlike the Zabaleen scavengers don’t have agreements with the owners orthe Waahis. Other terms exist such as “Sarriih Khorda,” which means roamer specializing in scrapmetal (literally, Sarriih means roamer; and Khorda means scrap). who roam the streets buying,trading, and exchanging recyclable waste itemsWAAHIS: Oasis migrants to the city. They first organized a collection service of paper fromhouseholds in the early forties. They sold the paper to public baths who needed to heat water overlong periods of time and to preparers of the local national dish fuul medammes.ZABBALEEN: Traditional Egyptian waste collector. Zabbaleen collect household waste in agreementwith the owners and charge their service. In most of the cases they have a fixed routes and fixedcustomers. The Zabbaleen formed an agreement with the Waahis (from the oases of Egypt) to takeover the collection and transport of household waste to their own homes. This latter group wasdenied their share of the monthly fee collected by the Waahis, and sometimes had to pay him a feefor access to the waste. As the Zabbaleen became more involved in waste collection, they startedto receive a small fee from the Waahis.The Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 5
  7. 7. THE INFORMAL SECTOR IN WASTE RECYCLING IN EGYPT CID CONSULTING MAY 2008INTRODUCTIONThe German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) executes The Recycling Partnerships project on behalf ofthe German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). It takes a closelook at global experiences around the integration of the informal sector in solid wastemanagement. CID Consulting was commissioned to undertake a study specific to Egypt, withinthe sector project “Promotion of concepts for pro-poor and environmentally friendly closed-loopapproaches in solid waste management (SWM)” work title: Recycling Partnerships; PN 03.2144. Itis hoped that this study, along with others conducted in other developing countries will enrich andinform the current debate around the informal sector in solid waste management. The study sumsup key factors, planned and unplanned events, circumstances that lead to an increasedinvolvement of the informal sector in SWM in Egypt. It ends with an outlook on approaches andmechanisms which might be taken to advance the process further.METHODOLOGYThe study used a combined methodology of desk research of reports, papers, conferenceproceedings, numerous focus groups and in depth interviews with key representatives of thesector, their organizations, government representatives, donors, consulting firms and individualrecyclers. It is structured in the following manner:Chapter 1: Historical Descriptive Research: presents a brief chronicle description of thedevelopment of the Informal Sector in SWM in Egypt. The research reviewed existing literature,interviewed garbage collectors who came to Cairo in the late forties, and reviewed reports on thesector from the early seventies and eighties.Chapter 2: Overview of the Institutional Framework of Informal Waste Workers: This chapterpresents the continuum of informality which exists in Egypt and tracks its evolution. It outlines therole of intermediaries, umbrella organizations, issues of licensing, associations, cooperatives, andtheir viability. The chapter identifies the organizations which have been formed to mobilize theinformal sector, and describes the manner in which their local initiatives attempted to integratethat sector. Meetings with members of these organizations led to a description of how theseactivities were designed and undertaken. An analysis subsequently attempts to outline whatfactors and structure influenced the formation of coalitions or impeded them. This process isreviewed within the socio-politico cultural context of Cairo and Egypt. Aspects which may haveinfluenced the process in an indirect manner are extrapolated. The historical and institutionalgrowth of Cairo as a city, the changing face of the economy, and the legal and political changesover the past fifty years are the backdrop to the discussion in this chapter.Chapter 3: Integration of Informal Waste Workers in Formal Systems: Legal, Institutional andTechnical Aspects: This chapter covers the legal framework within which the process offormalization or exclusion occurs. Laws, decrees and ordinances are listed and a discussion ofThe Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 6
  8. 8. how they impact the informal sector is provided. The chapter also outlines key factors and keyactors contributing to the integration of the informal sector in SWM systems, such as: Governmentefforts, donor efforts, the informal sector’s efforts, and Non Govermental Organizations’ (NGOs)efforts. Research methods used included focus groups, a review of existing reports, and meetingswith representatives of garbage collectors and municipal heads, consultants in the wastemanagement field, practitioners, NGO’s and waste dealers to arrive at elements of successfulintegration models where they exist.Chapter 4: Assessment of the Integration Process of Informal Waste Workers: This chapteranalyzes and assesses the sustainability of current practice to date with regards to the integrationof the informal sector. Focus groups with practitioners and researchers were undertaken to assistin the: identification of necessary strategies to promote and ensure the sustainability of theintegration process; identification of further external support that might be necessary;determination of whether and how the integration process is positioned in the poverty reductionstrategy of EgyptChapter 5 : Lessons Learned, Conclusions and Recommendations: An analysis of the pointsoutlined above yielded recommendations on how to proceed to bridge the gap between officialpolicy and the current status of the informal sector. The study terminates with recommendationsand lessons learned for potential transfer to other contexts, for further adaptation and tailoring tothese specific realities.The Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 7
  9. 9. Chapter 1: Historical Descriptive Narrative of Egypt’s SWM SituationThe current actors in Egypt’s Solid Waste Management System are many. The very first organizedservice ever provided in the largest city in Egypt, Cairo the capital, was one which was designed,managed and implemented by the informal sector. The oasis migrants to the city, the waahis, firstorganized a collection service of paper from households in the early forties. They sold the paperto public baths which needed to heat water over long periods of time and to preparers of the localnational breakfast food fuul medammes (fava beans). At that time the population of Cairo wasaround 2 million. Other cities in Egypt disposed of their organic waste by raising small animals onthat fraction. Non organic waste had still not begun to appear as Egypt was largely an agriculturalcountry and communities enjoyed rural characteristics. Municipalities were not charged with theprovision of cleansing services to towns and cities. No laws, ordinances or regulations existed toregulate the sector or the service. Environmental agencies, ministry or strategy were non existent.1.1 Actors in the Informal Recycling Economy1.1.1 The Traditional Waste Collectors (Zabbaleen)Garbage collectors first appeared in Egypt in the city of Cairo in the late forties. They providedresidents with a door to door, daily collection service and survived on the recycling of organicwaste which they fed to pigs and goats. They lived on the edge of the city in what became knownas garbage villages, referencing the squalor and living conditions where household waste wasbrought back to their homes for the sorting and animal raising activities. These informalsettlements grew in number and density as they became home to the ‘zabbaleen’ (Arabic forgarbage collectors) who had migrated from the rural south of Egypt, specifically from the provinceof Assiut, 400 kilometers south of the capital, to the outskirts of Cairo. They formed anagreement with the waahis (from the oases of Egypt) to take over the collection and transport ofhousehold waste to their own homes. This latter group was denied their share of the monthly feecollected by the Waahis, and sometimes had to pay him a fee for access to the waste. As thezabbaleen became more involved in waste collection, they started to receive a small fee from thewaahis. For residents of Cairo receiving the service however, the difference between the waahisand zabbaleen is not readily apparent. The latter were subjected to numerous forced evictions (5-6 in the span of 30 years) but each time were told by authorities where to resettle in recognition ofthe need to keep them operating the city’s waste system and in the absence of any otheralternative to municipal waste management in Cairo.The understanding was that the garbage collectors (zabbaleen) would continue to deliver thepaper to the waahis, while keeping the food to raise animals and to trade metals and plasticswhich had begun appearing in household waste in the fifties.The introduction of fuel oil and the introduction of private baths in dwellings in the 1940’sgradually disrupted this chain and led to the gradual disappearanc of public baths. Thus thewaahis no longer found ready customers among the fuul medammes producers nor in theoperators of public baths.As Cairo grew, so did the coverage of the waste collectors of high income neighborhoods. Ruralto urban migration patterns brought in more farmers with whom they had kinship ties. Thecousins they had hired soon became licensed with their own collection route and their ownThe Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 8
  10. 10. recycling trading networks. Nobody organized the system. It grew and evolved in an organicmanner with the growth of the city and as a result of the adaptability and ingenuity of the informalsector.Up until l990, garbage collectors used to set out on donkey-pulled carts to individual residencesin Cairo. From 1990 they began converting to mechanized trucks in response to an order by theCairo Cleansing and Beautification Authority (CCBA) – an agency which was established in 1986 toprovide overview to the various actors in the waste management system of the city, to provideservices to hitherto unserviced low income neighborhoods, and to license new Egyptian privatecollection companies. A similar agency was formed for the second largest city adjacent to Cairo –Giza – which is considered part of the greater Cairo area. This agency was charged with licensingthe traditional collectors serving the Giza residential areas and Egyptian private companies whichwere formed in the late 80’s to service commercial waste generators and/or neighborohods whichwere not serviced by the traditional collectors. Waste Recovery in Garbage Collectors’ Naighborhoods © Norbert SchillerThey were given licenses to collect residential waste from designated areas. However, thecontractual basis by which the CCBA and later, local city councils engaged the informal sectorhousehold operators, differed from the one by which they engaged formal private sectorcompanies. The latter purchased tender documents, bid competitively, signed a contract with theCCBA and got their contract fee from the same Authority. The zabbaleen, on the other hand, wereleft to collect the fees directly from their clients and were open to the risk of some residentspaying for the fee-for-service and others not doing so. They also had to pay a deposit ‘insurance’to the CCBA up front, in return for the right to service a specific number of apartment blocks. Theyhad no guarantee that these blocks were all inhabited, that residents would pay, or that theywould recover their cost. The CCBA provided direct services in the area of street sweeping, streetlighting, maintenance of public parks, etc. The garbage collectors were illiterate, did not knowhow to drive motorized vehicles, and were unable to access credit to purchase their own trucks.They relied on the intermediation of the waahis to assist them in obtaining licenses from theCCBA. In the nineties, some of them had acquired the expertise of doing that and had evenbecome intermediaries for other members of their own neighborhood among those who soughtlicensing to service specific neighborhoods. The traditional waste collectors themselves invested inthe development of their own community when they acquired a sense of land tenure andownership security in the mid eighties.The Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 9
  11. 11. 1.1.2 Roamers (Sarriiha)They represent a trade that covers all of Egypt. Their name derives from the nature of theiractivity: Sarriiha (singular sarriih), are those who roam the streets buying, trading, and exchangingrecyclable waste items, and “lae’ita,” are those who scavenge and collect the waste by pickingthrough dumps, landfills, and street bins. Other terms exist such as “sarriih khorda,” which meansroamer specializing in scrap metal (literally, sarriih means roamer; and khorda means scrap). Theyroam around the country in both rural and urban areas either with pushcarts or on donkey-pulledcarts. They have no fixed neighborhood where they all agglomerate the way the garbage collectorsof Cairo do. They have no community-based organization to represent them. They barter withresidents in low income neighborhoods in Cairo and in towns and villages in the Delta and UpperEgypt. They exchange mainly plastics and metal which housewives have set aside for them inreturn for household items of utility. These range from clothes pegs to glasses, pitchers, plastictubs, and the like. They purchase recovered items from commercial waste generators as well.They also purchase source segregated waste from commercial and institutional waste generatorssuch as supermarkets, butchers, metal workshops and the like. The roamers possess limitedcapital especially if they work for themselves. They may be attached to a trader who owns a depot(a mo’allem) who supplies their donkey cart and the day’s cash for cash transactions. Themo’allem’s advantage is that he possesses capital and storage space and thus is able to buywhatever these roamers recover from their day’s bartering activities with residents. He also hasbetter market information than the roamers.1.1.3 Robabekia and Saxonia PeddlersThey are an age-old group of people trading old, used, and unwanted household items, and existthroughout Greater Cairo and most other Governorates in Egypt. They have acquired a vast know-how in trading, bartering, buying and selling. They have also accumulated knowledge of fixing andrepairing old appliances, furniture, house wares, and simple machines by way of knowing where tofix each of the items, where they could be potentially sold. Robabekia includes all items that fallunder old and used appliances, house wares, apparel, paper, books, glass bottles, and scrapmetal. Those who roam the streets of the neighborhoods calling out “saxonia,” are in search of oldclothes and unwanted apparel, which they trade along with dishes, plates, bowls, and tubs.“Saxonia” refers to hard porcelain produced in Saxony.1.1.4 Middlemen and Intermediary Buyers/DealersThese live inside and outside garbage collectors neighborhoods. Some used to be garbagecollectors themselves. Others were never in that trade; both were able to accumulate capital toacquire space to store large quantities of recoverables. They are known as “mo’allemeen”(singular “mo’allem”) who own small-scale depots. They sell to wholesalers and large buyers ofnon organic waste.1.1.5 Wholesale Merchants of Recoverable from RoamersThese buy in bulk from small merchants who roam the streets of Cairo and from the middlemenwho live in low income and garbage neighborhoods and who buy from waste generators, roamersand garbage collectors. They are large-scale dealers, known as “toggaar” (singular “taager”) whoown large warehouses specializing in a single type of recyclable.The Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 10
  12. 12. 1.2 Formal Actors in the Solid Waste System1.2.1.In the early 70’s the traditional collectors of Alexandria mobilized and demanded infrastrucutre fortheir neighborhood from the then governor of Alexandria. They threatened to strike if they werenot granted basic human conditions (water, sanitation, lighting, etc.). The response of theAlexandria governorate was to evict them otuside of the city and disperse them. A few continuedclandestinely but were not enough to maintain the level and coverage of service to the city. Thegovernorate responded by contracting small private hauling companies and NGO’s, andsupplemented their efforts with municipal services on a campaign basis. Years of this system stilldid not lead to a cleaner city. The situation was exacerbated during the peak summer monthswhen more than 2 million Cairenes (residents of Cairo) descended upon Alexandria in escape ofthe heat of Cairo.In 2000 the governorate of Alexandria decided it had exhausted all local solutions to the problemof the city’s cleanliness and resorted to international tendering of the service, but this time toinclude the novel component of sanitary landfills since uncontrolled dumpsites had become amenace to most major cities in Egypt. There was no attempt to draw elements of high recyclingrates and labor intensive technology leading to high employment in recycling as practiced by theinformal sector or to include that sector in the new plan. Decision makers felt a great weightwould be lifted off their shoulders if they were left with the task of only monitoring theseinternational contracts. Recognizing that they did not have the competence to monitorinternational contracts, the governorate of Alexandria (in 2000) and later the governorate of Cairo(in 2002) sought the assistance of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)to establish and train a Contract Monitoring Unit to oversee the implementation of the workplan asagreed upon between the governorate and the international winner: in the case of Alexandria,Onyx (Veolia) and in the case of Cairo, two Spanish firms and one Italian firm.Governorates come under the structure of The Ministry of Local Development. It is the governingbody charged with the administration of governorates to include local city councils andEnvironmental Management Units (EMUs) established in the nineties when the Ministry of State forthe Environment and its executive arm, the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) wereestablished. The EMU’s are located in the governorate central offices. Governorates are vestedwith the authority to negotiate and contract waste management services to ‘private’ operators.They have the ability to raise local revenues to supplement the local waste cleansing ‘fee forservice’ in order to meet contractual obligations towards the private contractors. Localmunicipalities and city councils are charged with town cleanliness and the licensing of small, localoperators.1.2.2 MinistriesThe Ministry of State for the Environment has a mandate to monitor and protect Egypt’senvironment. It is governed by Law 4/1994. The EEAA, is the executive branch of that ministry.It coordinates waste issues with line ministries in Egypt, monitors the implementation ofenvironmental guidelines, reports environmental violations to the relevant ministry, imposes andcollects fines from institutional violators, coordinates activities of its Regional Branch OfficesThe Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 11
  13. 13. (RBOs) and governorate EMUs. It produced a national waste management strategy in 1998 and isresponsible for monitoring its implementation and dissemination to the public at large as well asto institutions. The National Waste Management Strategy specifies operational targets for waste, tobe met for all of Egypt:• Collection coverage must exceed 60% for towns by 2005 and 70% by 2010.• Collection coverage must exceed 80% for capitals of governorates by 2005 and 90% by 2010.• A minimum of 80% of disposal to occur in landfills as opposed to dumpsites by 2005 and 90% by 2010.• 50% of organic waste generated to be composted by 2005.• 20% of solid waste generated to be recycled by 2005.• 40% of municipal solid waste by 2005 to be source segregated into wet and dry by 2005• 5% source reduction to be achieved by 2005• 100% cost recovery of waste management services to be reached by 2005• The level of funding for waste management services to reach 0.35% of GDP by 2005.Up till 2008 this was not met.The adminsitrative structure of formal actors in the waste management system is shown below. Ministry of State Ministry of Local Ministry of for Environment Development Social Affairs (EEAA) RBOs NGOs Governorates Waste Treatment Private and Recycling Contractors Centres Local City Councils Environmental Management Units – EMU’s The Formal Institutional Framework for Solid Waste Management in EgyptIn order to achieve its mandate, the EEAA is required to build the technical and managerialcapabilities of environmental officers in the EMU’s and RBO’s, provide some financial support topublic, private, and non profit groups to comply with laws and regulations. In order to do that, ituses a mechanism of an Environmental Protection Fund and designs special programs for specificlengths of time (e.g. the Industrial Waste Reduction Project). It sites the locations for sanitarylandfills and partners with donors to achieve the national waste strategy.The EEAA does the following:• Sites landfills for governorates, towns and cities.The Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 12
  14. 14. • Develops the design elements, specifications and principles of the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) for waste treatment and disposal facilities in concert with the relevant local authority• Reviews EIAs submitted by the relevant administrative agency or licensing agency, and issues an official judgement within a 60 day period.• Monitors the Environmental Register facility to ensure data consistency with the actual environmental status; undertakes sampling and conducts appropriate checks to verify complaince with environmental standards.The Ministry of Health oversees the vast network of healthcare institutions generating clinical andhealth care waste, such as public hospitals, teaching hospitals, private hospitals, private andpublic clinics, public and private labs, pharmaceutical firms, etc. It has a clear mandate to enforcethe safe management of hazardous clinical wastes generated by these facilities. In the currentcontext of lax enforcement of relevant rules and regulations and/or charging violators, theinformal sector has become an unfortunate actor in the recovery and recycling of hospital waste.Syringes, intravenous tubes, empty bottles of expensive medication find their way to informalrecycling markets: informal recoverers process the plastic and sell it to industrial manufacturers.This activity exposes the waste recyclers in the informal economy to untold hazards, primarilyhepatitis C caused by the exposure to infected needles while attempting to recover the plasticportion of the syringe.The Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for directing farmers towards safe, appropriate methodsof managing agricultural residues. In Cairo, the introduction of new rice harvesting technologiesin the late 90’s led to agricultural residues being burned in large quantities and mixing with theexisting large quantities of smoke emanating from burning household waste in uncontrolleddumpsites in Cairo. The persistence of that ‘black cloud’ hanging over Cairo for three to fouryears during the months of October and November, drove waste management policy makerstowards the resolution of the problem by tendering the entire system to international bidders andinviting multinationals to take on the whole system, not just the final disposal end of it.The Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources is the primary agency to which falls theresponsibility of the welfare of the Nile - the lifeline of Egypt. As small rural towns grow andmunicipal services do not meet the needs of burgeoning populations, municipal waste is dumpedinto the river, in irrigation canals and other waterways. Tourism also contributes to the pollutionof the Nile as cruise ships practice uncontrolled, illegal dumping of effluent and municipal wasteinto the Nile.1.2.3 The Formal Private Sector1.2.3.1 The For Profit Private SectorPrivate contractors in the waste sector are of two types: local, Egyptian companies and foreignmultinationals. The latter bid for, and won international contracts to manage the waste of theentire city of Alexandria and three out of the four zones of Cairo. Cairo was divided into fourzones, as each corresponded to the size, population and waste generation rate of Alexandriawhich had led the experiment in international contracting three years before Cairo. One zone waswon by an Italian Public Private Partnership Firm: AMA, a second was won by the Spanish Urbaserwhich later became known by the name Enser; the third was won by the Spanish FCC. The latterThe Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 13
  15. 15. also won a portion of the Giza contract while the Italian Jacorossi won another portion of Giza.When no one qualified or bid for the fourth zone in Cairo (the southern zone) the CCBA formed apublic private firm called El Fostat to do that. El Fostat, in turn sub-contracted part of its southernzone to an Egyptian private firm entitled Europa 2000.1.2.3.2 The Not for Profit Private SectorCommunity Development Associations (CDAs) all over Egypt have implemented community basedwaste management schemes. These have not had a visible impact on the national level yet providemodels which can be mobilized for interventions around recycling, source segregation into wetand dry, and for the establishment of small processing and trading centers for recycling. Theyrepresent the mosaic of community groups in Egypt today. NGOs and CBOs have playednumerous roles in the waste management system of Egypt. These are summarized here below:1. Providing assistance and welfare relief to the informal sector2. Implementing development initiatives in waste management at the grass roots3. Testing pilot schemes designed to upgrade the working methods of the informal waste sector4. Demonstrating replicable small scale waste systems based on informal sector aspects of recovery and recycling5. Undertaking action research at the grass roots around waste issues6. Participating in research projects around the integration of the informal sector7. Advocating for the rights of the informal sector8. Communicating with government agencies, the media and other NGO’s to place the informal sector on the policy agenda for waste management in the city and in the country9. Conducting public awareness campaigns around innovative methods of waste segregation at source10. Approaching donors to fund development projects11. Raising in kind contributions from individuals and the private sector as well as community groups to improve living and working conditions of the informal sector.1.2.3.3 The Popular Economy Private SectorThe licensed Semi Formal, the Informal and Traditional sector (waste collectors, recyclers,manufacturers, scavengers, sorters, recoverers, and traders) constitute a sizeable portion of thewaste recycling system in Egypt. Success of the informal sector in achieving high recycling ratesand establishing trading channels shows promise in the creation of market-based incentives tointegrate this sector in the overall waste management structure. Their principal contribution hasbeen their long standing and persistent handling of these materials as resources and not as‘waste’, their contribution to employment and livelihood generation around these materials andtheir achieving strikingly high rates of recovery and recycling, at no cost to local authorities,central governments or residents.1.2.4 Donors and Private SupportersAmong the principal partners supporting the traditional collectors of household waste weredonors such as the International Development Association of the World Bank, the Ford Foundation,the Association of Garbage Collectors for Community Development (AGCCD), Les Amis de SoeurEmmanuelle (ASMAE), the Danish International Development Assistance (Danida), the FinnishInternational Development Agency (Finnida), Unesco; International NGO’s such as Oxfam, theComite Catholique Contre la Faim et Pour le Developpement (CCFD), Association for the ProtectionThe Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 14
  16. 16. of the Environment (APE), Oxfam, and Catholic Relief Services (CRS), and consulting firms such asEnvironmental Quality International (EQI) and CID Consulting.1.2.5 Residents and Commercial Waste GeneratorsThe failure of the current system, coupled with a steady increase in population and urbanization,have brought about the collapse of Cairo’s waste services and caused a public outcry for a moreefficient system which accommodates the city’s residents and their lifestyle. Small kitchens, noaccess to waste shafts in new buildings, the preponderance of stray dogs and cats, and the evenbigger preponderance of a scavenging urban population living below the poverty level (% ofpopulation below national poverty line 2000-2006): 17% and proportion of the population belowthe poverty line (2004/ 2005): 19.6%1 led residents to call for a new look at the current poorlydesigned system.The system faced more challenges at the official level:• The lack of reliable and timely information on waste quantities, composition and characterization• Limited physical, human, and financial resources in the entire waste system.• Limited capacity of municipal and local city council officials in undertaking cleansing services• Limited capacity of municipal and local city council officials in enforcing laws, and monitoring of private operators• Local governments unable to cover cleaning system costs from the current fees for service and having to resort to piecemeal mechanisms and financial resources to provide adequate services.• The general absence of properly sited, designed, and constructed sanitary landfills• Unclear modalities of integration of informal sector waste workers: e.g. cooperation between international operators and local NGOs, traditional waste collection groups, and private operators.• Low level of public awareness, poor public behavior and practices with regards to waste handling and disposal1.3 Adaptive Strategies of the Informal Recycling SectorThroughout the last half century the informal waste collectors/recyclers have unrelentingly comeup with adaptive strategies to continue to access the waste and circumvent barriers to that accesswhile at the same time integrate into new systems as they came up. Theirs has been the mostregular and adaptable service because it springs from a survival strategy to make a living from thewaste since the fee for service traditionally went to the waahis. Thus materials are treated as aresource and a livelihood base. Examples of these strategies were:1. Renting a truck from outside the neighborhood for a few hours when donkey pulled carts werebanned. This involved using bigger cloth containers to collect the resource from several buildings,store at the corners of streets, then load onto trucks. This meant that they did not need to rentthe truck and driver for the full six (6) hours that the collection task lasted. Instead the truckcould quickly roll through their assigned route and quickly pick up these huge containers whichhad been planted at corners of streets in a span of two hours.http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/MENAEXT/EGYPTEXTN/0,,menuPK:287166~pagePK:141132~piP1K:141107~theSitePK:256307,00.htmlThe Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 15
  17. 17. 2. Acquiring the capital to purchase trucks, and recycling machines, to build solid homes and toeducate their children. They did this by selling any gold belonging to their wives or daughters; bypooling cash savings among brothers; by selling any remaining small plot of land or house in theirancestral village, or by obtaining credit from loan sharks in the neighborhood.3. Teaching their sons to drive and giving them an education. In later years, this was to prove tohave been a critical decision in increasing their social mobility and their acceptance by Cairenes atlarge.4. Sustaining their daily collection from households on a door to door basis thus maintaining highservice levels to one third of the city’s high income neighborhoods and commercial wastegenerators (grocery stores, print shops, small garment Small Medium Enterprise’s (SMEs), metalworkshops, etc.).5. Maintaining their autonomy in organizing the expansion of the service in concert with theexpansion of the city. They obtained licenses from the CCBA whenever new neighborhoodsappeared in the city. More collectors and recyclers were hired. Cousins and other day laborersexpanded the workforce.6. Establishing a hub of recycling activity in their neighborhoods as their homes were sortingstations and their neighbors provided the entire value chain – from trading small amounts ofspecific waste: paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, cloth, metals, bones, etc. – to processing eachkind of recovered material: secondary sorting, baling, cutting large items with manual scissors,granulating, washing, drying, pelletizing, agglomerating, manufacturing The food was fed to pigswhich they raised in the back of their homes.7. Providing employment and income for thousands of unskilled, unemployed youths: today anestimated 300,000 people in Cairo are engaged - either directly or indirectly - in the collection,transport, recovery and recycling aspects of managing the solid waste of one third of the cityshousehold waste/resource. Women are predominantly responsible for the manual sorting of therecoverable components. Only 15-20% is not recovered. This is transported to Cairos mainmunicipal dump where, until 2003, it was left without any sanitary treatment.8. Establishing one of the world’s largest small enterprise recycling industries through privateownership of recycling machines, processing machines, maintenance equipment, tradingenterprises, and trading with the entire country all the way through to exporting plastic PET toChina. In 2006, at least 1000 SME workshops existed in the largest recyclers’ neighborhood -Mokattam.9. Refining their manual sorting expertise so that recovered items are sorted by highlydifferentiated characteristics and take a variety of trading routes. They are sold at different prices,depending on their level of cleanliness, wholeness and type, size, color, soiled or clean condition,etc. They do not sell the waste/resource unsorted directly to anyone, as it is their sorting activitywhich adds value to mixed waste. This resource is perceived as a nuisance by society. Wastecollectors do not sort communally; therefore it is possible to estimate, with a fair measure ofaccuracy, how much is recovered of each item.The Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 16
  18. 18. While the collection route is the domain mainly of men and children, the task of manually sortingthe garbage into separate piles of recyclables falls to the women and adolescent girls who do notaccompany their fathers on the garbage route. Upper Egyptian cultural norms dictate that theystay in their neighborhoods in order not to jeopardize family honor.Today, six recycling neighborhoods form a ring around the city of Cairo2.These are:1. Mokattam, with an estimated population of 60,000 - collects from downtown, Shoubra,Abbasiyya, Ramsis Square, Abdeen, Rod el Farag and parts of Nasr City and Zamalek;2. Ezbet el Nakhl, with an estimated population of about 25,000 - administratively in thegovernorate of Qalyoubiyya - collects from Heliopolis, Zeitoun, Saray el Qubba;3. Moetamadeyya - collects from Mohandessiin and Giza;4. El Baragiil - collects from Zamalek, Dokki, Agouza, Embaba and Mohandessiin;5. Tora - collects from Maadi, Basateen, Dar el salaam and others.6. Helwan, the southernmost neighborhood of Cairo.They sort and recycle around 80 – 85% of the resources/waste they collect, making a living fromrecovering, recycling and trading recyclable materials. They provide the more affluentneighbourhoods of Cairo with door-to-door service at a minimal fee paid by residents and at nocost to the Government.The recycling industries in their settlements have developed extensive backward and forwardlinkages with other informal and formal markets throughout the country. In addition to collectingmixed household waste, they also purchase source segregated waste from commercial andinstitutional waste generators, as well as roamers, middlemen, etc. These are sold as either endproducts or inputs for other manufacturing activities to large scale industry of informal sectorsmall enterprise Ez b e t El N a k he l El M o a ta m a d ia T ura a l-B a la d Traditional Waste Collectors Neighbourhoods in Cairo, EgyptChapter 2: Overview of the Institutional Framework of Informal Waste WorkersStudies undertaken by the “Support for Environmental Assessment and Management3 (SEAM)Program” in governorates outside of Cairo confirm the existence of a sizeable recycling informalsector with strong economic activity covering the entire country. It has largely goneundocumented and un-quantified. Its characteristics are:2 CID Consulting, “Study on Brand Name Fraud”. Commissioned by Chemonics/Ahmed Gaber & Associates, June 1998SEAM, “Support for Environmental Assessment and Management (SEAM) , environmental program implemented by the3Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency.(EEAA), Entec UK Ltd and ERM with support from the UK Department forInternational Development (1996).The Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 17
  19. 19. • Thriving activity which recovers, trades in, processes and re-manufactures plastic, scrap metal, paper, cardboard and bones.• A culturally intrinsic practice of separation at the source, among households, institutional and commercial waste generators, which makes the sought-for items available when the roamers access towns, villages and neighborhoods.• Highly developed markets and strategies in the informal source segregated waste sector, and a chain management of the resource from generators all the way to recyclers.• Substantial employment opportunities in that informal sector of source segregated waste.• Specialized towns and centers for the recovery and trade of specific items appearing in the municipal, industrial and commercial waste streams. These are source segregated and traded through a chain of roamers, traders, middlemen, graduated traditional collectors and informal sector operators in all of Egypt’s towns and villages.• Small and medium enterprises appearing everywhere in small towns and larger villages around the processing, re-manufacturing and trading of particularly recovered recyclables.• Manufacturing of recycled end products which may sometimes not qualify to consumer protection standards. Informal arrangements embedded within the formal sector of collection, transport and disposal of municipal waste.• A very slow, gradual departure from re-use, recovery and recycling as urban lifestyles replace rural ones, but a persistence of that behavior well into certain suburbs of the capital.Where people leave off habits of re-use and recovery, scavengers -the poorest of the poor- step into perform that function and create a network which demonstrates highly developed survivalstrategies devised and adopted by the poor.2.1 Informality of Shelter is linked to Informality of LivelihoodIn 1993, a General Organization for Physical Planning (GOPP), the government agency charged withurban planning in Egypt, estimated that there were 23 informal settlements in the Greater Cairoarea with a total population of 5.88 million people and an average density of around 685 personsper hectare.4 Current estimates of the number of informal areas in Egypt vary. There is still noagreement on definitions and boundaries. From the public administration’s point of view Egypt’sinformal urban areas are often considered a problem. Yet, from a macro-economic point of viewthey have been the solution to housing for poor and low-income families for the past forty years.The fast growth of informal settlements particularly on the periphery of Cairo in line with fasturbanization has revealed the inability of government and the private sector to meet the demandfor land and housing. Spontaneous urbanization occurred mostly on scarce and therefore preciousagricultural land and dates back to the 1960s, though most growth occurred since 19865. Therapid growth of informal settlements took place in a situation of oversupply of formal housingunits, albeit for a different population category. The average price of land for low-income housingincreased 23-fold between 1960 and 1993.4 (GOPP, Upgrading of Informal settlements in Greater Cairo Region, Preliminary Report, Cairo, 1993, as quoted in El-Batran, Manal & Arandel, Christian, A shelter of their own: informal settlement expansion in Greater Cairo and governmentresponses).5 Estimates predict that between 1980 and 2025 nearly half of Egypt’s agricultural land will be lost to informal settlementsThe Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 18
  20. 20. Informal areas do not only house the urban poor. They also offer affordable housing to young,educated families, including public service employees and university students. Through theprocess of migration and urbanization, these communities mix, transform and add new values totraditional ones. They find new patterns of organization, informal economy, social networks andsolidarity mechanisms. From the 70s to the 90s the social structure of informal areas changedconsiderably, leading to the heterogeneous, culturally and socially incoherent informal areasstructure of the present. Before the 1970s informal areas were more like homogenous campsformed by rural migration to the periphery of large Egyptian cities. Since 1975, increasingurbanization and real-estate speculation forced many previously urban population groups intoinformal areas.The Egyptian government’s attitude towards informal settlements experienced a shift due to anumber of factors: one was pressure from international donors, another was social and securityreasons which date back to the early 90s. These were linked to religious groups having becomeprimary service providers, delivering aid to widows, health care for the poor, clothing and food topoor families and the sick in many informal neighborhoods in Egypt. Economic deprivation,political passivity and the absence of state security control provided the conditions for ideologiesof violence. The analysis of the social roots of Islamic militants reveals the extent to whichinformal areas bred political violence in the early 90s. Many came from Mokattam/ManchiyetNasser, neighbours of the zabbaleen. It became urgent for the government to respond with socialand physical upgrading of informal settlements. A “National Upgrading Policy of Informal UrbanSettlements’ went into effect in 1993 and according to United Nations Development Programm’s(UNDP) 2005 Egyptian Human Development Report more than half a billion Euros were spent onthese massive projects.6 Studies report that the overall impact has been less than expected withcontinued migration, unemployment and poverty still outpacing government resources.In 2006 President Hosni Mubarak announced an ambitious programme for improving people’sstandards of living in his election platform for his new six-year term. It included 12 projectsrelated to housing, education, health care, transportation and infrastructure, access to clean waterand sewage system networks in squatter settlements. The programme aims to improve randomlybuilt areas by guaranteeing property rights while extending water and electricity services, buildingschools, providing medical care and security services.7 The Fifth 5-year (2007-2012) Plan forEconomic and Social Development8 specifies guide-lines for participatory local developmentpolicies in poor urban areas. The government of Egypt has adopted four strategies for addressinginformal settlements:• upgrading,• redevelopment,• containment and• demolishing.6 UNDP and Ministry of Planning, Egypt Human Development Report: A New Social Contract. Cairo, 20057 Source: www.ndp.org.eg8 Source: Egypt State Information Service, http://www.sis.gov.eghttp://www.sis.gov.eg/En/EgyptOnline/Miscellaneous/000002/0207000000000000001336.htmThe Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 19
  21. 21. It has set criteria for the definition of each.9 Under these criteria, Manchiyet Nasser, the largestneighborhood which houses informal recyclers, qualified for upgrading. This has given therecyclers a greater sense of land security, but has not led to titling or registration of property.2.2 Business Aspects of Informality: International Contracting Threatens a DynamicRecycling SectorIn 2000 it became clear that government policy for the city of Cairo’s waste management washeading towards privatization to multinational firms. A number of organizations felt there was aneed to prepare the way for the integration of the Zabbaleen as a serious technical input and as alivelihood threatened by the advent of new entrants into the sector. A study undertaken in 2000documented the magnitude, growth and vitality of that sector in the Greater Cairo area, as well asits capacity to expand its service to new neighborhoods, generate income and employment, whilemaintaining its high rate of 80% recycling10. For this study, Mokattam area was selected to gatherinformation about the following specific activities: collection, transportation, recovery of primarymaterials, SMEs trading activities and small scale recycling industries. It showed that trading andmanufacturing networks had grown to cover the whole country from Alexandria to Aswan. Theindustry had spawned its own dealers, its own centers of production and recycling, and its ownbusiness culture of credit, trade and finance. The implications of this situation were thatinfluences felt in the informal recycling sector in Cairo reverberate all over the country andinfluence a much larger economic sector of poverty stricken Egyptians than is documented andquantified.2.2.1 Response to MarketsThe increase in the number of collection enterprises and corresponding increase in the number ofhouseholds served in Cairo over the last fifty years is indicative of the capacity of this informalsector to grow and expand, and shows its comparative advantage over the formal sector. Its abilityto respond to demand-driven forces faster, and to design systems more flexibly has served it wellin braving the forces of change in the waste management systems of the city which never includedthem in the dialogue or design of these systems.2.2.3 Ownership of Land, Sorting Space and other AssetsTo this day, very few residents in the informal neighborhoods where recyclers live have registeredtheir land or secured legal title to their property. However, they have established informalownership to the land which is not officially recognized or registered with the government, butwhich is honored by residents who know and recognize each others’ rights to the land on whichthey live and work. This has facilitated the sale of land and other transactions such as rentingproperty for housing, trading or recycling activities. It has allowed them to rent and sell suchproperty to generate income and capital to invest in their diverse enterprises. The long years of coexisting on the fringes of the city have engendered enough trust to allow them to acceptdocuments which transfer property informally in recognition that they are all at risk of not beingable to claim their right to the land if and when the government decides to evict or relocate them.9 It is noteworthy to mention that Hernando de Soto presented nine types of informality based on threecriteria: land tenure, zoning and type of construction.10 CID Consulting “The Informal Solid Waste Sector in Egypt: Prospects for Formalization”. A study conductedby CID Consulting for the Ford Foundation and funded by the Institute of International Education (IIE).October 2000.The Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 20
  22. 22. 2.2.4 CapitalThe network of social and personal relations within such communities is in effect a form ofcollateral. Social norms and pressure become the mechanism for enforcement of the repayment ofthe debt. The reputation of the borrower is at stake compromising his standing in the communityand the trust of his compatriots in the trade, thus jeopardizing future business opportunities.Studies show the dependence of the recycling enterprises on informal sources of capital andlimited access to, and utilization of any formal sources of financing, such as the Social Fund forDevelopment (SFD). While these opportunities are created through some of the non profits, theydo not meet the growing need and demand for financing. As the number of trading and recyclingenterprises increases so does the demand for diverse sources of capital. This creates anopportunity to develop appropriate programs for such endeavors.2.2.5 Labor and WagesAs with labor markets in the Greater Cairo area, workers operate informally in this sector. Theaverage number of workers in the garbage collectors enterprise, i.e. the garbage collector, hisunpaid family workers and other paid wage earners who collectively work on the collection routesand recovery of primary materials is 7.4 persons. The average number of workers in the tradingenterprises is 4.6 workers/enterprise and 6.7 in each of the recycling workshops.2.2.6 Growth in Recycling EnterprisesRecycling industries in Egypt have expanded, diversified and increased in number over the last 25years. The 1980s ushered in a move towards investing in recycling workshops starting in theMokattam settlement but now extends to the entire country. Initiatives to start such endeavorswere supported by external funding and technical assistance. From 1996 to 2000, the number ofworkshops in Mokattam increased by approximately 40%. The recycling workshops in the areacreated approximately 43% new job opportunities during that four-year period (1996-2000).These recycling workshops rely on the primary material sorted by the waste collectors and soldthrough intermediaries. They have also become a magnet for youth from other parts of the city.Some workers commute to the settlement on a daily basis, while others have relocated and nowreside in the settlement. The size, scope and activities of the recycling workshops vary. Somespecialize in a particular step of the recycling process, having invested in only one machine.Others have larger investments and undertake a multi-step process in the recycling of certaintypes of primary materials. The recycling workshops produce both final products andintermediary products. Their clients are located throughout the country and the city. Theintermediary products are sold to larger workshops and often to large-scale industrial plants inand around Cairo as well as those around the country, such as the 6th of October, the 10th ofRamadan, Alexandria, and Suez.2.2.7 Trading NetworksMost traders are part of the informal sector, but a significant number of formal sector traders areincreasingly attracted to this large and lucrative market. Intermediary traders buy the bulk of thematerials recovered by the garbage collectors on a weekly basis. Traders in recyclingneighborhoods generally specialize in one type of material such as glass or plastic, and sometimeseven on sub-categories of these materials such as PET plastic water bottles or PVC, etc. Onaverage, it takes a week to accumulate quantities that are large enough to sell to their customers:traders from other markets around the country, and in some cases large manufacturing plants.The Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 21
  23. 23. They have developed a large network of customers who rely on their proven ability to deliver therequired materials on a regular basis. More often than not, the agreements made between thesetrading partners are verbal agreements to which they all adhere.2.2.8 Specialized Trading Towns and CentersStudies conducted in 15 governorates (South Sinai, Red Sea, Aswan, Qena, Sohag, Assiut, Minya,Dakahleya, Gharbiya, Menoufiya, Damietta, Qalyoubiya, Alexandria, and Giza), and a photodocumentation of the recovery and recycling sector in Egypt, point to the emergence of townswhich have become specialized in the trade and recycling of specific items appearing in themunicipal, industrial and commercial waste streams. The items are source segregated and tradedthrough a chain of informal sector operators throughout Egypt’s towns and villages. Themiddlemen must have access to land to organize the sorting and storage functions. Credit playsan important role in these wholesalers’ ability to conduct business as many financial transactionsare based on term.11 In the field of recovered metal they make their way to metal processingplants in the following manner:Steel Dekheila (near Alexandria), Mostorod & Abu Zaabal (near Cairo)Iron Mansoura, All over EgyptAluminum Miit GhamrCopper Miit Ghamr, CairoTin MostorodMany began as informal sector operators but have now become formalized with tax I.D.s due tothe need to bid on huge lots of metal. Their main source of recovered waste are the dealers whoroam the country on animal-pulled carts. These still operate in the informal sector of theeconomy and are not controlled by one large operator. Informal Recovery and Recyling Actvities © CID Consulting2.3 Informal Sector Recyclers: Private Business Partners to Large IndustryThe informal recycling sector’s trading methods present potential aspects as business partners tothe formal recycling sector and to government on a number of fronts:• Quick response to markets; this creates new demand for recyclables and energizes trade and investment.• Ownership of assets and its positive aspect for economic growth.• Growth in enterprises indicative of a vibrant popular economy.• Trading networks covering the entire country.11 CID Consulting. Study on the Social Development Aspect of Municipal Solid Waste Management in thegovernorate of Dakahleya, for ENTEC, the SEAM Program in the EEAA. 1965The Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 22
  24. 24. • High labor and employment generation vital for unskilled and semi-skilled labor force.• Higher than national average wages offered to workers.• Positive aspects of capital accumulation and investment – both for local and export economy as borne out by the export of PET plastic, and recovered empty paint cans.• A high degree of product differentiation in response to new demands and technological advancement in the recycling industries.Over the last two decades, an increasing number of usages have evolved for more and more of theprimary materials. As new market demand arises, the appropriate technology is adopted, and newchannels for market distribution and production are instated.When the Egyptian government adopted privatization of solid waste management to internationalcompanies, new recycling contractual quotas (20% of waste) were required of them. These werefar lower than the informal sector’s recovery rate of 80%. This was bound to adversely affect anentire industrial recycling chain, strain scarce natural resources, and increase the amount of wasteto be landfilled. In 2008, the recycling formal industry was feeling the effects in a serious way.This generated an interest on their part to examine and correct imbalances suffered by theinformal sector recyclers caused by current systems. They have come to recognize that theinformal sector is a private sector in its own right and have tangibly felt the impact of theirreduced access to materials from waste generators on their own large industries.Prior to privatization, feedstock from the informal sector had been flowing regularly to largeformal private sector recycling industries. Since privatization to intermational companies, thesteady supply of materials dwindled. These large industries are becoming a new, and potentiallyimportant actor in any scheme to integrate the informal sector in waste recycling. They haveunwittingly become advocates for the informal private sector recyclers which will affect severalfronts.2.3.1 Livelihoods, Income and EmploymentSo far efforts to integrate the informal sector within the multinational companies have not beensuccessful: multinationals expect traditional collectors/recyclers to act as a collection crew only,i.e. to not take the waste away to their homes for recycling and to work for a wage. They alsoexpect them to put in eight hour working days even if they can cover their routes in 4 hours. Andlast but not least, they expect them to do anything which is required in the companies’ garagesand transfer stations of multinationals. The informal sector collectors who collect only for thepurpose of recycling see no purpose to the invitation extended by the private international firms.This has forced multinationals to recruit unemployed youths and train them to be collectors. Fewrecruits find the occupation appealing and those who are recruited soon drop out. High turnoverrates among these new collection crews drew the multinationals to accept to hire the traditionalcollectors on their own terms, i.e. have them work on the route only for as long as it took to finishthe rounds, turn a blind eye to the continued practice of taking the mixed waste back to theirhomes to sort and recycle, and continue to use their own trucks instead of using the contractor’strucks as the contract stipulated. To date, the zabbaleen still transport mixed household waste intheir trucks, take it to their homes, sort it and profit from it. This is expected to end when, and if,contractual terms in the contracts between the governorate and the international companies areenforced. Up till now though, the Contract Monitoring Unit established in the CCBA and GizaCleaning and Beautification Agency (GCBA), have not fined the multinationals for these practices asThe Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 23
  25. 25. they too recognize the prolematic situation which these companies find themselves in and do notwant to jeopardize the system any more than it currently is.2.3.2 Exploitation of Household Waste Collectors by MiddlemenWhen the multinationals gave in to hiring the traditional collectors, none of them had formalbusinesses registered and thus could not sign contracts nor represent a large group of collectors.They had found it sufficient to operate with the licenses which had been granted by the CCBA andGCBA. Only the waahis had the forward looking inclination: they had registered small privatecompanies, NGOs and cooperatives as well. Once more the traditional collectors found themselvesneeding the intermediation of the waahis, but this time with the international contractors. Many ofthese contractors paid the intermediaries fair wages for each collector hired, but the middlemenpassed only the smallest fraction of it to the collector. Once more, exploitation was their lot. InCairo, the traditional collectors are now open to the exploitation by middlemen who possesslicenses and are therefore able to sub-contract with international companies directly.2.3.3 Competition for the Waste by ScavengersMultinational companies do not offer door to door collection services as that would have pushedthe cost of their bids beyond competitiveness. Placing household waste in the public domain(street communal containers) has meant that the traditional waste collectors have to contend withscavengers who now have access to waste pooling sites in neighbourhoods serviced by theinternational companies. This has reduced the amount of waste available for recycling as someresidents have changed their habits and now bring their waste to pooling sites. It has also meantthat the city has become much dirtier than prior to international contracting as scavengers litteraround the containers they scavenge, stray cats and dogs complete the damage and scavengersventure into the city on donkey pulled carts. These were banned in the 1990’s but became anevery day occurrence again in 2006!2.3.4 Residents’ DispleasureDespite the poor social image of the traditional collectors and their services, and in spite of theactual take over of the waste collection by the international companies, many Cairenes still preferthe door to door service of the traditional collectors. Cultural bias and class aspects keepresidents prefering not to bring their waste down to a waste pooling site. Lonstandingrelationships with specific collector families, bred over decades, have also led to the establishmentof social ties between collectors and residents so that the relationship is an important aspects ofthe system. A point of contention though is that these service recipients are obliged to pay twicefor the same service: once on their electric bill , as the fee for waste collection service became anintegral part of the electric bill as per the Egyptian government decree, to the international firms,and a second time directly to the door to door collector, albeit voluntarily and informally.Furthermore, residents are displeased with the increasingly unsanitary appearance of theirneighborhoods as waste pooling sites overflow with waste, containers are not large enough for thelarge volume of waste and scavengers leave the space surrounding containers with mountingvolumes of litter.2.3.5 Resettlement IssuesAnother threat is the potential resettlement to the outskirts of the growing city of Cairo.This would conceivably increases transport cost, travel time and labor cost in the recycling trade.This feature is discussed in Chapter 4.The Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 24
  26. 26. 2.4 Challenges Faced by Informal Sector RecyclersThis study conducted focus groups with small, informal and semi formal recoverers, recyclers,collectors, and traders. These uncovered numerous constraints faced by them:1. They have no fixed or predictable income.2. They are dispersed throughout the country.3. They are exploited by traders who own depots and who employ them4. They risk arrest, confiscation of their donkey and cart and are harrassed by police as theyroam around the city of Cairo on donkey carts which were banned in 1990 on the streets of Cairo.5. They are forced into the trade due to unemployment or as an interim stage in search foremployment.Traditional informal sector recyclers express the following challenges:2.4.1 Poor Ability to OrganizeFrom the outset the exploitative situation the traditional waste collectors found themselves in wasbased on the weak position of the collectors and the stronger position of the more powerful oneswho organized them. In the first decades of their presence in Cairo, the waahis exploited them.Later, it was the more powerful among them who had been able to negotiate with the governmentand obtain licenses to service a large number of apartment blocks. The latter kept the smallercollectors breeding pigs for them. The smaller waste collectors were content to service a smallernumber of flats (between 350-500) and accepted the exploitation by the more powerful men inthe trade. Exploitation also came from the pig merchants who seldom paid them the true value ofthe animals they sold claiming that a fair proportion of the herd was sick and not fit for slaughter.Their first taste of fair and equitable organization was when they formed a non–profitorganization, the AGCCD and an external facilitator, in the form a consulting firm EnvironmentalQuality International (E.Q.I.) was charged with implementing a credit scheme financed by OXFAMto introduce recycling of non-organics in the neighborhood. Their second experience was whenAssociation for the Protection of the Envirionment (A.P.E.), another non-profit, organized a girls’and women’s community recycling enterprise based on source segregated cloth and paper. Again,this was facilitated by a group of external volunteers. Thus the people in that trade had notlearned to trust each other and organize themselves in a common front, holding one opinion andone view with which to negotiate.More recently, the agreement with the multinationals involved the mediation of both the powerfulmiddlemen, either from among them or from among the waahis, or from their NGO, which turnedaround and granted the right to distribute labor and concessions to routes to the same powerfulmiddlemen who had negotiated independently with the multinationals. The NGO had become co-opted by the more powerful men in the neighborhood and no longer represented the interests ofthe poor and the voiceless.Organizing for true representation is thus one of the most critical constraints facing the informalsector recyclers. It is even more difficult for roamers and scavengers of waste pooling sites anddumpsites than for the traditional zabbaleen.2.4.2 Lack of Transparency of the SystemThe system has been marked by a lack of transparency from its inception. Be it the termsnegotiated by the waahis and the local authorities, or the terms negotiated between them and theThe Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 25
  27. 27. middlemen (moallemiin) or the present terms between the moallemiin and the multinationals, andeven the terms of contract monitoring for the present multinationals. The traditional wastecollectors therefore find themselves in the unenviable position of not having accurate informationand not knowing who to trust.2.4.3 Financial ConstraintsAccess to capital has been listed as one of the most critical constraints to growth in that sector. Todate, the need for capital and financing has not been adequately addressed as lending institutionsare currently not easily accessible to that business sector. Their informality, lack of education andlack of collateral all place contraints to their accessing formal financial markets. It is mostly NGO’sthat have reached that market.2.4.4 Legal and Contractual ObstaclesForeign companies are encouraged to cooperate with traditional garbage collectors, because oftheir vast numbers, their accumulated experience in the field of collecting, transporting, recyclingand disposing of municipal waste. Representatives of the Italian and Spanish company expresseda willingness to negotiate with one entity representing the traditional collectors within therequirements of their contract with the government of Cairo. The traditional sector needs to learnand start the process of forming one legal entity to represent the larger group of individualcollectors who could then act as a sub-contractor to the main contractor.Foreign companies are contractually required to recover 20% of waste only. There is no contractualincentive to reach the 80% recovery rate currently achieved by the traditional collectors. Thetraditional garbage collectors, who inherited this business from their fathers, whose traditions asprivate sector operators go back fifty years, would not easily accept to be employed just as acollection crew by the multinationals.2.4.5 Social Issues Related to Stigma of Trade and Perception of Society at LargeHandling garbage is not an attractive occupation, neither physically nor culturally, and does notconstitute an attractive option for Egyptian labor. People do not consider the sector an option foreducated youths and do not respect the work waste workers do. Much as people appreciatehaving their wase collected from their doorstep on a semi daily basis, yet they do not approve ofthe unseemly appearance of the traditional collectors, nor their soiled clothes and trucks.2.4.6 Need for Skills Upgrading – TrainingNew labor entrants in the waste sector need training, which entails cost, and will lead to higherwages. The traditional collectors are willing to cooperate and to upgrade their collection andsorting techniques, but this requires planned interventions. In 1986, the consulting firm E.Q.I.implemented a credit scheme which deliberately targeted pig breeders to convert them intoplastic, paper, cloth recyclers. This scheme was the genesis of the industry which exists inMokattam today. A similar scheme is required to convert the collectors into contractual partnersto the government and large recycling firms.2.4.7 Operational IssuesThe traditional garbage collectors’ means of handling waste lack appropriate hygienic standards.This renders them an unattractive institutional partner. A number of traditional garbage collectorsopt for continuing to raise animals on the organic waste. This further makes them unattractice aspartners to local authorities, local companies or multinationals. Alternative breedingThe Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 26
  28. 28. configurations need to be sought. The current options of compacting garbage or disposing of it inlandfills leads to a waste of raw materials and of job opportunities. Now that Climate Changeopens up prospects for carbon trading from the recovery and processing of organic waste, newavenues for changing current operational processes are opening up offering alternative uses forthe organic fraction of the waste. They will need the mediation of consulting firms, donors, andadvocates as well as investors and social entrepreneurs.2.4.8 InformalityThe thriving informal sector is a boon and a bane at one time. Interventions to correct the sector’shazardous work methods and sub standard products sector are necessary and are potentiallyfeasible. They will require policy interventions coupled with the temperate application of lawsuntil the industry is steered through the tricky transition from sub-standard, uncontrolled andhazardous production to quality production based on specifications and standards. Formalizingthe zabbaleen would address the aspect of labor shortage, and keep residents satisfied with doorto door collection, but it will also maintain health standards for finished products and industrialsafety standards for workers in that sector. Traditional garbage collectors have still not unitedunder the umbrella of one single federation or entity. This has dissuaded foreign companies fromcooperating with them.2.4.9 Difficulty in Acquiring and Asserting Ownership of PropertyOwnership of property, albeit informally, has emerged as an integral element in the informalsector activities. The majority of informal sector recyclers live and work in the same place. Theypurport to “own” the premises in which their enterprise is based, albeit informally, as well as theequipment that they use, vehicles or otherwise. The availability of sorting and storage space is acritical aspect of trading and growth in recycling markets. The establishment of depots all overthe city, and indeed the country, is linked to the availability of land, warehouse space, and use ofspace in the home as an unregistered business in informal neighborhoods. Giving the informalproperty holders legal title to these assets may allow them to use these in various transactions inthe formal and financial markets whether they are used as collateral or guarantees. Formalizationof property is a critical step towards the security which can later contribute to upgrading the trade.2.4.10 Inadequate Market Information and Market IntelligencePrices and market information are available in the immediate neighborhood and vicinity. Moreinformation becomes available as traders and recyclers create links and networks with othertrading neighborhoods and markets. However, poor communication and inaccurate informationlead to cut throat competition and recyclers relying on windfall profits rather than sustainedmarkets. This makes them an inappropriate partner to formal sector industries and increases theirpreference for informality, and their vulnerability.2.5 Non-Profit Community GroupsA significant institutional actor in the informal recycling sector has been NGO’s- both local andinternational - and faith based organizations.2.5.1. Association of Garbage Collectors for Community Development (AGCCD)It launched the first credit program for small and medium enterprise development in 1983 in theinformal neighborhood of Mokattam garbage collectors (the zabbaleen) through the interventionThe Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 27
  29. 29. of a consulting firm, E.Q.I. and with funding from Oxfam.12 Additionally, this NGO implemented anexperiment in Grameen-style lending in Egypt and launched the seeds of a Primary HealthProgram in the neighborhood, as well as experimented with new institutional arrangements forwaste companies to service the city132.5.2. Association for the Protection of the Environment (APE)Registered in 1984, A.P.E. started operating its first project -a composting plant- in 1987. TheRag Recycling Center was launched in 1988 followed by a Paper Recycling Project, a Childrensclub and Nursery for infants, a Mother and Child Health Project, and an Adolescent Girls HealthProject in 1996 and more. The NGO is governed by a 9-member all-volunteer board which playedan active role in project implementation for the first 7 years of its life. It has now trained a staff of65 people from the neighborhood to manage projects. While the urgency of living conditions ofthe people living in garbage neighborhoods drove APE’s projects towards welfare developmentapproaches, yet in parallel, the NGO piloted critically important projects which today bear theseeds of what might be an appropriate, efficient, culturally and locally responsive system forCairo’s waste system which would include the informal sector, most notably source segretation ofhousehold waste into wet and dry.2.5.3 Spirit of Youth for Environmental Services (SoY)Established in 2004, SoY has made source segregation a primary mandate of its mission. It hasmobilized youths to spread awareness around that practice in schools, community developmentassociations and has created a strong African network with the South African chapter of ShackDwellers International and with community based recycling groups in Kenya, Nigeria and the U.K.Its landmark intervention has been to demonstrate how the interests of multinationals (shampooproducing industries) converge with the interests of informal sector recyclers through theestablishment of recycling schools cum buy back centers of shampoo packaging which wouldotherwise be fraudulently refilled. This school teachers youths who became marginalized as aresult of international contracting of waste services in Cairo. Mokattam Recycling School © CID Consulting2.6 Lessons Learned from the Various Institutional Actors2.6.1 Lesson One: Recycling of Source Segregated Waste Dignifies the Trade andGenerates IncomeFor the women, A.P.E. chose income generating interventions revolving around rags and paper.Research and field practice had indicated that women in extreme poverty situations, coupled with12 Extensive documentation about the Mokattam Zabbaleen experiment can be found in documents compiled byEnvironmental Quality International, E.Q.I. 3B Bahgat Ali Street, Zamalek, Cairo13 Extensive documentation about the Mokattam Zabbaleen experiment can be found in documents compiled byEnvironmental Quality International, E.Q.I. 3B Bahgat Ali St., Zamalek, CairoThe Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 28
  30. 30. the exclusion particular to garbage collector communities, would probably not benefit to ameasurable degree from the extension of credit – micro or medium. Technical, social, andmarketing difficulties would probably have caused their enterprise to falter.14The Rag and Paper Recycling Centers15 designed and delivered income generating/povertyalleviation initiatives for adolescent girls and women in the informal sector, in which wasembedded a lifelong learning model in the field of non-formal education. It focused on lifelonglearning skills to empower mothers of the future; to build on the expertise of experts - girls andwomen involved in the manual sorting of municipal household waste in Cairo, to create conditionsof work revolving around recovery and recycling of man-made waste with dignity, and to empoweradolescents and adults to participate, as literate adults, in community and society. The projectsbegan in 1988 and 1992 alternatively and continue to the present day. They have become self-sustaining. One did not require external donor assistance while the other invested in inputs frompartners and donors such as the Ford Foundation, ASMAE, and others. Egyptian private sector in-kind donations and individual cash contributions as well as consulting time and expertise given ona voluntary basis helped get them established. Revenues from the recycling enterprise andcapacity building to manage these enterprises has sustained them.2.6.2 Lesson Two: Source Segregation of Household Waste into Two Fractions (Organicand Non Organic) is FeasibleIn 1992, A.P.E. tested a source segregation of garbage in two neighborhoods in Cairo (Manial andDeir el Malak) to develop new household level interventions which would reflect on the informalwaste workers and the city16. The methodology included door to door communication and publicawareness campaigns to raise awareness regarding the importance of at source separation.Findings were that 65% of residents in the two sample neighborhoods continued to separate theirgarbage at source into two components: organic and non-organic, for two years. Residents weremotivated to participate because of the information given to them about the hazards of mixingheavy metals with food waste and the attendant effects this had on human health and the foodgrown with contaminated compost. Residents were given a further incentive to participate byreceiving nominal prizes for having screened and source segregated their waste efficiently, at theend of each 2-3 month period.The plan was to deliver the organic waste to composting plants around Cairo while keeping thenon-organic in Mokattam to sort and separate for processing and re-manufacturing in the micro-enterprise workshops run by the men. The driving concern behind it was women’s exposure tohealth hazards while sorting. This pilot project was financed by the Ford Foundation and resultsindicated that:• sorting time was reduced by 50% (two instead of four hours per day),14 Assaad, Ragui and Rouchdy, Malak. “Poverty and Poverty Alleviation Strategies in Egypt”. A Report Submitted to TheFord Foundation, Cairo, Egypt, January 1998.15 Kamel, Laila R. Iskandar. Mokattam Garbage Village, Cairo, Egypt. Published by Laila R. Iskandar Kamel and printed byStallion Graphics. Cairo, 199416 Assaad, Marie and Moharram, Ayman. Final Report on the Separation-at-source Scheme as Implemented by theAssociation for the Protection of the Environment. Submitted to the Ford Foundation, January 1995.The Informal Sector in Waste Recycling in Egypt 29

×