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Waste Management in Cairo

09 May, 2011

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Voice 1

Hello and welcome to Spotlight. I’m Ruby Jones.

Voice 2

And I’m Ryan Geertsma. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

Magdi Shenuda is a young man from Cairo, Egypt. He lives in an area called Manshiet Nasser. This area is also known as Garbage City. Like many young people in his neighbourhood, Magdi grew up in a family of garbage collectors, or Zabbaleen. Many Zabbaleen live in poor conditions. However, they are proud of what they do. The Zabbaleen have worked to collect, recycle, re-use and re-sell waste in Cairo for over 60 years.

Voice 2

Today’s Spotlight is on the Zabbaleen community of Cairo. This community uses simple methods of garbage collecting and recycling that produce very little damage to the environment. And with the help of development organizations, the Zabbaleen provide an example to the world - an example of environmentally friendly waste management.

Voice 1

In Cairo, there are sixty to seventy thousand Zabbaleen. Most live in and around the Garbage City area. And most of the community is Coptic Christian.

Voice 2

The Zabbaleen moved to Cairo in the 1950s. Before living in Cairo, many of them farmed and raised animals in country areas. When they moved to Cairo, there was not much need for their farming skills. However, these immigrants did find work in garbage. And since that time, the Zabbaleen have used the same method to manage waste.

Voice 1

The fathers and young men, like Magdi, go from house to house collecting garbage. Many use donkeys and two wheel carts to carry the garbage. Others use very small trucks that can fit through the many small streets of Cairo. People pay them very little money for this help. Sometimes they do not pay at all! Instead, the Zabbaleen make money using and selling things they find in the garbage.

Voice 2

At home, the mothers, young women and children sort through the collected waste with their hands. The Zabbaleen use as much of the collected garbage as possible. Some objects are cleaned and re-used. Plastic, paper or metal objects are sold to local factories to be recycled. These factories break down the objects and make new things out of the material. The Zabbaleen even put the smallest pieces of food waste to good use. They use this waste to feed their pigs and other animals.

Voice 1

These methods may seem very simple, but they produce amazing results. The Zabbaleen community re-uses or recycles eighty to ninety percent of the garbage they collect. This rate is much higher than most waste management companies. In fact, private garbage companies in Cairo are only required to recycle twenty percent of what they collect. This means that up to eighty percent of this garbage is burned at the city garbage dump.

Voice 2

For centuries, people have burned garbage to get rid of it. Burning some garbage is necessary. However, burning garbage produces gases and pollution which harm the environment. So, it is important to burn as little garbage as possible. Today many cities are beginning to recycle or re-use as much waste as possible. And this is what the Zabbaleen do best!

Voice 1

In 2005, Wael Salah Fahmi, a professor of city design at Helwan University in Cairo wrote about the Zabbaleen’s method. He said,

Voice 3

“They have created what is probably one of the world’s best, most efficient resource recovery and waste recycling systems.”

Voice 2

The Zabbaleen’s method is efficient - it puts everything to a good use. However, there are also problems with it. One problem is that the Zabbaleen have not been able to keep up with Cairo’s growth. Beginning in the 1970s, Cairo started growing very fast. Today it is the largest city in the Middle East and Africa. Because Cairo grew so fast, the Zabbaleen were not able to meet all the city’s garbage collection needs. Instead, the government decided to pay private European companies to manage waste in parts of the city. These companies now manage one third of Cairo’s waste. However, many people do not like the new companies. The companies cost more than the Zabbaleen and they recycle less.

Voice 1

However, the biggest problem with the Zabbaleen method is the living conditions that it produces. While the Zabbaleen do support themselves, they are still very poor. They also suffer from many diseases caused by working and living with garbage. And since the families usually work together, children do not always attend school.

Voice 2

In the 1970s, Sister Emmanuelle, a French nun, visited the Zabbaleen communities of Cairo. She recognized a need to improve the living conditions of the Zabbaleen. She also recognized the importance of what the Zabbaleen did for the people of Cairo and the environment. For twenty years, Sister Emmanuelle lived among the Zabbaleen. During that time, she started an organization called the Association for the Protection of the Environment or APE.

Voice 1

APE helps the Zabbaleen improve their lives by doing what they do best - recycling. APE works with other investment groups too. Together, they have started recycling schools in the Zabbaleen communities. These schools teach the Zabbaleen even more methods of recycling. They teach the Zabbaleen to use machines which break down plastic. They provide training in how to weave material scraps found in the garbage. From these scraps the students can make rugs and blankets to sell. The school also teaches students how to recycle paper to make cards and other paper goods. These goods can also be sold.

Voice 2

The schools also teach basic reading skills, health education, arts and even computer training. Students, like Magdi, use computers to record how many bottles they recycle. These students also learn many business skills that help them be more productive.

Voice 1

With the help of APE, the Zabbaleen are improving their lives. They are also beginning to teach their good recycling methods to students in other countries. And, cities like Manila and Bombay are now using the Zabbaleen method of waste management.

Voice 2

Today, cities are growing faster than ever. This means that waste in cities is also produced faster. However, modern methods of waste management may not be the best answer to the growing waste. Instead, cities all over the world can learn from the Zabbaleen’s method. It is a method which makes money, manages waste and still cares for the world’s environment.

Voice 1

The writer and producer of this program was Robin Basselin. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. Computer users can visit our website at http://www.radio.english.net. This program is called “Waste Management in Cairo.” We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Comments

nature187_vn

nature187_vn said on May 10, 2011

When read about this topic,it meaning as well as affect me .Now i’m learning about specialized enviroment.And we know our enviroment being polluted by ourselves…
Program’s story metioned about matter recycle and re-use garbage.It’s real useful for environmental protection.In adition, we would plant much trees around home or on streets.Firt,will creat ecological galance,second can prevent affect food annual.
Thanks program have provide much helpful topic and meaningful!

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