Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—The European Union and the German-sponsored Participatory Development Program in Urban Areas (PDP) agreed a five-year developmental program worth 20 million euros to help improve the living conditions of Egyptian citizens living in so-called “informal areas.”
In a press conference held on Thursday, James Moran, the European Union Ambassador to Egypt, announced that the EU will allocate 20 million euros for the program to improve five main informal areas in Egypt, including Matariya in Cairo, Old Boulaq in Giza and Qalyub, Shubra, and Khosoos in Qalyubeya.
The PDP describes “informal areas” as residential areas that have developed “in absence of government planning processes,” adding, “In some cases, buildings and neighborhoods are built illegally on agricultural land that is not officially assigned for housing and construction. Such ad hoc constructions often disregard government regulations concerning the size of allotments and standards of construction.”
“The [development] programme is in line with the Egyptian government’s policy to improve informal areas and to address unemployment with an emphasis on helping women and youth,” Moran said.
Moran pointed out that this program is part of a European Aid Program worth 90 million euros agreed between EU Foreign Relations chief Catherine Ashton and Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Bahaa Eddin last November.
Moran also denied media reports that the EU has suspended some aid to Egypt following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi, confirming the EU’s commitment to the North African republic.
The program, financed by the EU and the German government, is part of the PDP that has been operating in Egypt since 2004. The PDP aims to improve the “living conditions of the poor population residing in informal areas by offering better quality services via public administration and civil society organizations in order to satisfy the needs of the residents and to improve the environmental conditions in these informal areas,” according to the Program’s official webpage.
Nihal El-Megharbel, an economic adviser at the Egyptian Ministry of Planning, stressed the importance of this developmental program and said that it represents a first step to transforming not only Cairo’s five main informal areas, but also those across Egypt.