Al Shehab Institution for Comprehensive Development

About Ezbet El Haggana

Wednesday 22 March 2006 by Al Shehab institution for Comprehensive Development

BACKGROUND TO "EZBET EL HAGANA" "SLUM OR SQUATTER AREA
"Ezbet Elhagana lies at the kilo 4.5 on the Cairo – Suez road. The 4.5 kilo was given pre-1952 as it was the distance between it and the borders of Heliopolis. The name "Hagana" comes from the fact that it was a hamlet for the families of coast guard soldiers stationed nearby. They were mostly Nubians and Sudanese in origin. As they had their barracks in this area, they were granted the right to establish homes there. The border of the District is Suez road, Tenth of Ramadan district, Nasser City and Shrouk City. The size of the district is around 750 Fedans. Estimates of the population are extremely variable from tens of thousands according to the official Capmas to over a million as reported by the NGO Elshab to be taken from the local authority statistics. Before the year 1963, Ezbit Al-Hagana or 4.5 km was a military zone. Officer of the security then, Ali Mousa decided to give a piece of land, close to army camps for Al-Hagana soldiers and their families. Around 10 houses were built and the army officer himself divided the space for each house which then was estimated between 200 m and 1000 m based on the individual wish. Houses were built from stones, one floor and the ceiling was from mud, sag to protect the buildings and red bricks. Each house has an opening in one of the walls through which water was brought. The army was transporting water by cars from Saraya Al-quba area to the camps and the surrounding soldiers’ houses. Soldiers were originally from other governorates of Upper Egypt and Sudan. That is why houses were built following houses of Upper Egypt. Al-Hagana soldiers began to gradually expand their areas and build new houses for their sons and relatives in return for a symbolic fee (10 piaster for the meter). Then they started to sell the lands around them gradually to other people. As a result of this selling movement and earning some money, the old Hagana were able to rebuild their old houses with red bricks and iron and horizontally, which lead to change in the character of the area. Officially Hagana area was a subaltern to Heliopolis district till 1963. Later the State started to build Nasr City district. As a result, Al-Hagana managerially became a supplement to Nasr City, district one. This change contributed to attracting more families to inhabit the Ezbit. However, this growth took place at first slowly, but in the late 60s, there became a dispute over the ownership of the land among three bodies, Nasr City Company for Population, the Army Forces and Cairo governorates, which also lead to the continuation of families to built new houses in a parallel process. After the year 1978, there was a crises over the land, a bus station was build with three lines based on Tantawi’s wish. These actions lead to more expansion in housing because of the low prices in the area. The expansion was to the south and west and Ezbit Al-Hagana became what it is now. (Interviews with local key informants in Huajana, Nov 08). Geographical mapping and description (done in 2006-7 by Development Support Centre) The first area is the original area in which the Hagana soldiers first settled, followed by their relatives, sons and grand children. It extends from the Cairo-Suez Road till the "High Voltage cables" in the south and to the Warsha street eastwards. Its area is around one square Kilometer. It is the area that enjoys most of the services (water, electricity, and bus station), better quality of housing, and relatively wide and organized streets. It is also the most stable area regarding family conflicts as the old Hagana inhabitants play a role in conflict resolution. This area is also characterized with high education level and it included a high percentage of vocations. The second area, is the continuation of the first, starting from the high voltage wires till the ring road leading to the Maddi – Helwan in the south. The third area follows the second and starts after the Warsha road to the Mithaq road east and north till the High voltage wires which splits between it and the fourth district. The fourth area, starts from the High voltage area till the old army manufacturers north and west till Mithaq Street and Shrouk city. The second, third and fourth area characterized with less or no basic services, zigzag streets and smaller in size to reach at some places 1m or 2m. Houses are less in quality and size (one floor houses, or rooms are common). The third area (covered by this project): It lies under the line of high voltage wires, which separates it from the fourth area. It does not have clean water. The only source of water is truck carrying water and sells it in jars with high prices which put financial burden on the families. There are no electric cables. No sewage system to some houses because there is no water. Most of the buildings are short, unorganized, and garbage is spread. Sometime sewage spells over the streets, which are unpaved. Social and Family mapping of the third area: Most of the inhabitants in this area are from Upper Egypt governorates (Qena, they own land and are the biggest, Asyut (the work in selling land), Suhag (working in land trade, coffee shops, in addition to few families from Faiuom, Menia and they work in selling used materials). There are other families coming from the Delta area from Monofiea, Garbia, Qalubia…et. The third category of inhabitants comes from Cairo to look of cheap residence at the Ezbit. Before 2003, there was a high tension because of the conflict over the land. It even reached physical fights. It was re-conciliated through big heads of the families through an informal conflict resolution committee. There is a minority of Christians in the third area (third of population). They live in compounds or groups semi closed and most of them from Menia. There is no church, so they practice their beliefs inside the angelical association that opens its door to Christians coming from Southern Sudan (refugees) and they live in the fifth area. One of the rich Christians living outside of the Ezbit bought a piece of land in the third area and finished regulations to build a church but work has not started yet. Relation between Muslims and Christians is calm despite the existing religious trend within the area. There have not been any religious or fundamentalist problems. Rural culture and mode of life is still the common way where traditions and norms play a role and is mirrored in style of living, type of building and the spread out of early marriage among girls. Basic services: As regards accessibility and quality of water, there is water net that has been officially extended to the third area in 2007 and it is not yet working. People try to connect water to their houses unofficially. As a result the Water Company tried to connect water to the net because people were stealing the water. Sometimes the Company takes water fees without actually pumping water through the net. Half of the third area has water unofficially since 2003 with the help of a charitable organization. The organization extended 10 water pumps to the area, which is also stolen from the main line close to the medical center in the fifth area. Families agreed that every 2 individuals should share one common line and share expenses. Every individual who connects water to his house was committed to build a public free water pump in front of his house for those unable to connect water to their houses. As regards to educational services, only two primary schools are available (one of them is private) and one elementary school and no secondary schools whether public or professional. That is why children of the Ezbit sometimes have to go to schools outside of the area in Nasr City, Almaza, or Mataria. The area also include few educational centers or nurseries offered by charitable organizations As regards health services, there are only three clinics founded by CARITAS and Al-Bashir Mosque and Al-Farouk clinic, in addition to 15 private clinics with laboratory investigations. Civil society organizations: Since 2003, around 13 organizations were based in the first area. Only four exist in the third area. Almost all of these organizations are charity oriented ones, founded by the government or charity organizations that provide some services (school bags, food, second handed clothes) founded by mosques. Only CARITAS and Al-Shehab organizations are community development organizations. Economic activity in the area varies from vocational, trade, public and marginalized services Professions include iron welders, second hand goods dealers. women usually work in weaving in houses, carpet factory (for girls and children) and as house servants in the richer surrounding areas. Political activity: is monopolized by the National party members. There is no parliament or local council members. In addition, there are no syndicate leaders. Other services: There is no police office and no post office and no emergency service and no hospitals Based on needs identification study conducted in the second area of Al-Hagana, priority issues were selected as followed: water as the first priority, electricity, unemployment, education and lack of work opportunities, and bread (lack of police office, mentioned by girls, sense of protection)

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