Participatory Development Programme in Urban Areas (PDP)

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Main actors

Local Government, City Government, National Government, Private Sector, NGO / Philanthropy, Community / Citizen Group

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Project area

Neighborhood or district

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Ongoing since 2004/01

This project advises concepts and methods of participatory community development and grass roots based waste management in informal urban areas.

The Participatory Development Programme in Urban Areas (PDP) seeks to improve the living conditions of Cairo's urban poor. The PDP focuses on providing and disseminating participatory methods and instruments for integrated urban development. The PDP works with local administration, youth representatives, local leaders, NGOs and the private sector to build their capacities and help them improve service delivery and environmental conditions in their area.

The PDP provides grants for small and medium-scale local initiative projects to upgrade physical, social and socio-economic infrastructure in selected informal urban areas in Greater Cairo. Moreover, an integrated, community-based waste management system has been introduced in two poor urban areas in Qualyubeya governor administered district to better respond the needs of informal waste collectors and recyclers already operating in the sector. The issue of climate change and its consequences for informal urban areas is raised in order to increase awareness and promote initiatives improving the resilience of the poor urban population.

Originally published by the International Community of Practice for Sustainable Urban Development CONNECTIVE CITIES:

Sustainable Development Goals

End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Reduce inequality within and among countries
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

Guangzhou Award

This project was awarded the 'Guangzhou Award' in 2016.

Cairo, Egypt

Size and population development
2011: 11,169,000; 1990: 9,061,000; 2025: 14,740,000; 2010-2015: +1.59% / year

Population composition
Few minority communities; Arabic is the most widely spoken language; about 90% of the population is Sunni Muslims

Main functions
Capital and largest city of Egypt; economic, educational and cultural center

Main industries / business
The majority of Cairo's work force is employed in the service sector (financial services, commerce, tourism...)

Political structure
The municipal governement consists of a governor, who is appointed by the president of Egypt, and a council called the Popular Assembly, which includes both appointed and elected members

Administrative structure
1 Governorate and 23 districts

Egypt’s cities grow rapidly, mostly beyond governmental or local planning. About 20 million of the population live in the greater area of Cairo. Apart from that, about 60% of the population live in informal, undersupplied and densely built-up urban areas, which develop mostly unplanned. Mainly ecologically valuable agricultural land or state-owned plots are covered by buildings without permit. There is a shortage of social services and sanitary facilities, like water, waste water, and waste disposal. The extreme density of the population results in significant environmental pollution. The general living conditions are greatly affected by climate change. Many inhabitants are poor and have low levels of formal education. They frequently develop living space themselves – without building permit and mostly without access to public infrastructure. 

The objective of the project is to improve cooperative services and environmental conditions for the poverty-stricken urban population through joint efforts of public administrations and civil organizations.

The project advises decision makers in ministries, governor administered districts and local administrative units (multi-level approach), when dealing with informal areas. The main focus of advice is introduction, dissemination and application of the process and method of participatory community development. This requires improved capacities of non-governmental organizations and local administration, with the involvement of the private sector to plan and implement suitable measures. The European Union (EU) co-funded small measures in nine selected informal settlements, reaching more than two million inhabitants. Especially adolescents, women, and civil society organizations are sponsored.

In two poverty-stricken areas, in Qualyubeya governor administered district, an integrated, community-based waste management plan is introduced, covering another half a million inhabitants. The improvement of the waste management infrastructure is co-funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation (BMGS). The project includes local institutions and the informal sector, such as waste collectors. Additionally extensive measures to promote awareness on the subject of waste and the environment are performed. 

The programme is implemented by the Ministry of Planning (MoP) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

In the first few years, the programme collaborated with the german KfW development bank. 

As an Egyptian-German development initiative, the Participatory Development Programme in Urban Areas is mainly financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The European Union (EU) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) co-finance the programme for a total amount of EUR 49 million.

The substantial achievements enhanced improved spatial conditions, the introduction of social development measures as well as improved environmental, educational and medical standards.

In the governor administered districts of Cairo, administrative units were established for the improvement of the districts, training their own staff. The administrative units are the primary direct contact for the partner organization. Furthermore, the administrative units are independent of the project schedule, they are responsible for all areas and institutionalized by decree. 

The local administration and the population is aware of climate issues, through increasing resolution measures about environmental topics and possible adjustment strategies on climate change. Environmental conditions are optimized through the realization of a waste management strategy, which was agreed on by local non-governmental organizations and local administration. Newly established markets for recyclable waste products have improved the conditions for an increasing income in the informal sector of waste management. The debate on adapting to climate change is instigated by national and local administrations; there is a regular exchange. 

From the beginning, participatory approaches and instruments were developed, applied and spread. Participation for the improvement of the district increasingly raises attention in Egypt and is also regarded as promising by other institutions and donors. Small-scale development measures are created and tested in a joint effort with the inhabitants. Activities like participatory community mapping and trainings raise awareness for climate change.

Evaluations by partner organizations show that living conditions have sustainably improved in the first project areas, through the combination of institutional development and the realization of small measures funded by the KfW development bank. Therefore, the programme directly contributes to the reduction of poverty.

- Cairo: participation-oriented development programme in urban poverty-stricken areas, (accessed 27 March 2016)

- Participatory Development Programme in Urban Areas, (accessed 28 March 2016)

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Guangzhou Award
Guangzhou, China

Guangzhou Award

Institution | Urban Award

Guenther Wehenpohl
Brasilia, Brazil

Guenther Wehenpohl

Individual | Urban and Infrastructure planner

Connective Cities
Bonn, Germany

Connective Cities

Institution | International Community of Practice for Sustainable Urban Develop­ment

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