Interview opportunity regarding the UN Habitat III Conference: Making the megacity Cairo a sustainable and pleasant place to live

The third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development from 17 to 20 October 2016 in Quito

Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities; this figure will have increased to three quarters by 2050. The third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, taking place in Quito, Ecuador from 17 to 20 October 2016, aims to lay the foundations for developing sustainable futures for our cities. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has been commissioned by the German Government to support sustainable urban development worldwide – for example, in Cairo’s poor neighbourhoods.

Egypt’s capital is a megacity of 20 million inhabitants, more than half of whom live in slums which often have no power or water supply, schools or jobs. The roads and other transport systems in these illegally built districts are often poor. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation and the European Union have assigned GIZ with developing solutions for Cairo’s population.

‘The residents know best what their surroundings lack,’ explains GIZ expert Günther Wehenpohl. ‘That’s why we see ourselves as facilitators. We help Egyptians to solve their own problems and design cities for and with people.’ A project for rooftop gardens, for example, doesn’t just create green roofs and serve as a natural air conditioning system for the often multi-storey buildings: it also provides families with more food. The project helps women in particular to develop their self-sufficiency and autonomy. Profits from the yields of the roof gardens can significantly improve the incomes of poor inhabitants.

In collaboration with residents of poverty-stricken areas, more than 250 small projects of this type have already been implemented, benefitting around two million people in Greater Cairo.

‘Small ideas can grow and bring about big changes,’ says Wehenpohl. ‘In another pilot project, we made illegal garbage collectors into professionals who are now receiving assignments as recycling companies from the local administration. Everyone benefits: people have recognised jobs, neighbourhood streets are clean and the environment suffers from less garbage as a result of more recycling.’

GIZ expert Günther Wehenpohl will be available to give telephone interviews on 11 October 2016 from 16:00 to 18:00, and on 12 October 2016 from 14:00 to 17:00.

GIZ is a federal enterprise with worldwide operations. We support the German Government in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development. We are also engaged in international education activities around the globe. Through our work, we assist people and societies in shaping their own future and improving living conditions.