In his 100-day plan to address major issues in the country, President Mohamed Mursi announced the Clean Nation Campaign in the hope of cleaning the streets of the cities. While the campaign was hailed by some, it doesn't address the pressing problems of solid wastes management in Egypt
With thousands of volunteers taking part in efforts to clean up Egypt's towns and cities, Mahmoud Bakr
takes to the streets to monitor the Clean Nation Campaign
Click to view caption|
Workers at the municiplaities, assisted by volunteers, cleaned and swiped the streets. Mustafa Hussein Kamel (below left), the minister of state for environment, supervised the cleaning efforts
The Clean Nation Campaign, announced by President Mohamed Mursi as part of a 100-day plan to address issues like security, congestion, fuel, bread, and rubbish collection in Egypt, got off to an energetic start on 27 and 28 July, with thousands of volunteers taking part across the country.
Mustafa Hussein Kamel, minister of state for the environment, said that the ministry was using the campaign in order to remove rubbish from the streets, improve pavements, renew street furniture, plant trees and raise awareness of environmental issues in Cairo and Alexandria.
"In order for the streets to remain clean, we also need to select suitable locations for recycling and landfills and to support companies working in cleaning and rubbish collection," he said, adding that cleaning companies and rubbish collectors had historically struggled with technical and financial problems.
In the Cairo districts of Al-Omraniya, Al-Marg and Al-Marioutiya, volunteers helped to remove some 29,000 cubic metres of refuse from the streets. Kamel also inspected a rubbish dump in Al-Marioutiya at which fires have broken out in the past and ordered its removal.
The minister said that the Giza governorate was cleaning up Terat Al-Zumor and Al-Matar in Hayy Shamal at a cost of LE3 million ($0.5 million). He promised to remove a further 15,000 cubic metres of rubbish from the streets of Cairo and Giza.
However, the cleaning efforts are not being confined to the removal of rubbish. Some pavements are being resurfaced, and trees are being planted in various neighbourhoods. Cleaning personnel are also being equipped with better equipment, with the ministry providing ladders, trucks, water tanks, brooms, and other items to facilitate the removal of rubbish and building debris.
Kamel has instructed the regional offices of the Environmental Affairs Agency to launch public-awareness campaigns and to report back to him. Areas being cleaned are being handed over to young people for projects such as parks and nurseries and other environmental programmes.
According to Kamel, cleaning campaigns are now underway in the streets of Al-Sharikat, Al-Sharabiya, Al-Ismailia, Al-Masanei, Al-Zaweya, and Gisr Al-Suweis in Cairo, along with Ahmed Effat and Nabil Taha in Giza. The campaigns are being conducted in cooperation with volunteers and civil society organisations.
Kamel has promised to remove piles of rubbish amounting to some 50,000 cubic metres from Cairo and Giza. The Ministry of State for the Environment is also cooperating with various partners, including the presidency, to find a long-term solution to the rubbish problem.
Cairo Governor Abdel-Qawi Khalifa said that the Clean Nation Campaign aimed to involve people at grass-roots level in cleaning up their own neighbourhoods. Cairo has been divided into 168 residential "squares" in order to facilitate the initiative, he said.
The Ministry of Waqf has also instructed mosque preachers to speak to the public about the importance of keeping the streets clean, and the Supreme Council for Youth, the traffic police, and the municipalities are all part of the efforts being made in the campaign.
According to Khalifa, the Cairo governorate has distributed plastic rubbish bags to houses and has given out 10,000 plastic bags to motorists bearing instructions on ways to keep the capital clean.
Giza Governor Ali Abdel-Rahman said that part of the problem was construction debris that has accumulated in the streets. Abdel-Rahman, who has involved public and private contractors in removing the debris from the streets, said that the real challenge was not cleaning the streets but keeping them clean.
Various government departments and companies are involved in Giza's clean-up efforts, including the Giza governorate, the rubbish-collection companies, the Ministry of State for the Environment, the Arab Contractors Company, the Hassan Allam Company, and several civil society organisations.
The governorate is operating joint patrols of the police and the municipalities in order to prevent dumping. It has also cancelled the contracts of three cleaning companies whose performance has been deemed substandard.
A pilot clean-up project is being conducted in Aswan, with civil society organisations and volunteers collecting rubbish from the Al-Mahmoudiya neighbourhood of the city. The Ministry of State for the Environment is training volunteers and supplying them with equipment to collect, separate and recycle the rubbish.
According to Ali Baraka, who lives in the Hadaeq Al-Qobba neighbourhood in Cairo, his area needs more rubbish bins. Mohamed Nour, who runs an optician's shop in Al-Zawya Al-Hamra, said that people should cooperate with the state authorities in the clean-up campaign.
Whether it will be successful or not should become clear over the coming weeks.