Egypt builds new homes to replace crumbling slums

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Living in one of Egypt's oldest slums
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Egypt builds new homes to replace crumbling slums
A man shows cracks in his walls in Al-Assal, one of the oldest slums in the Shubra district of Cairo, Egypt June 1, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh SEARCH "CAIRO HOUSING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A man shows cracks in walls at his home in Al-Assal, one of the oldest slums in the Shubra district of Cairo, Egypt June 1, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh SEARCH "CAIRO HOUSING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A girl sleeps on the floor of her home in Al-Assal, one of the oldest slums in the Shubra district of Cairo, Egypt June 1, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh SEARCH "CAIRO HOUSING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A juice vendor stands at a gate to the Tahya Misr housing project in Al-Asmarat district, Al Mokattam, east of Cairo, Egypt June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh SEARCH "CAIRO HOUSING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
People walk between old buildings in Al-Assal, one of the oldest slums in the Shubra district of Cairo, Egypt June 1, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh SEARCH "CAIRO HOUSING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Cracks are seen in a wall in Al-Assal, one of the oldest slums in the Shubra district of Cairo, Egypt June 1, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh SEARCH "CAIRO HOUSING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Tractors are seen at the Tahya Misr housing project in Al-Asmarat district, Al Mokattam, east of Cairo, Egypt June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh SEARCH "CAIRO HOUSING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A boy plays soccer at a sports ground at the Tahya Misr housing project in Al-Asmarat district, Al Mokattam, east of Cairo, Egypt June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh SEARCH "CAIRO HOUSING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A woman carries bottles of water in Al-Assal, one of the oldest slums in the Shubra district of Cairo, Egypt June 1, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh SEARCH "CAIRO HOUSING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A man shows the bathroom at his home in Al-Assal, one of the oldest slums in the Shubra district of Cairo, Egypt June 1, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh SEARCH "CAIRO HOUSING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A resident walks past buildings in the Tahya Misr housing project in Al-Asmarat district, Al Mokattam, east of Cairo, Egypt June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh SEARCH "CAIRO HOUSING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A man closes the door of his house in Al-Assal, one of the oldest slums in Shubra district of Cairo, Egypt June 1, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh SEARCH "CAIRO HOUSING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A woman walks between old homes in Al-Assal, one of the oldest slums in the Shubra district of Cairo, Egypt June 1, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh SEARCH "CAIRO HOUSING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A man stands in the doorway of his home in Al-Assal, one of the oldest slums in Shubra district of Cairo, Egypt June 1, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh SEARCH "CAIRO HOUSING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A man poses for a photo in Al-Assal, one of the oldest slums in the Shubra district of Cairo, Egypt June 1, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh SEARCH "CAIRO HOUSING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A woman shows cracks in a floor in Al-Assal, one of the oldest slums in the Shubra district of Cairo, Egypt June 1, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh SEARCH "CAIRO HOUSING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A youth stands in front of a construction site next to his home in Al-Assal, one of the oldest slums in the Shubra district of Cairo, Egypt June 1, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh SEARCH "CAIRO HOUSING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A worker completes his job at a new building in Al-Assal, one of the oldest slums in the Shubra district of Cairo, Egypt June 1, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh SEARCH "CAIRO HOUSING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Children play in a sports ground at the Tahya Misr housing project in Al-Asmarat district, Al Mokattam, east of Cairo, Egypt June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh SEARCH "CAIRO HOUSING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Children play soccer at a sports field in the Tahya Misr housing project in Al-Asmarat district, Al Mokattam, east of Cairo, Egypt June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh SEARCH "CAIRO HOUSING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Residents sit in front of buildings at the Tahya Misr housing project in Al-Asmarat district, Al Mokattam, east of Cairo, Egypt June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh SEARCH "CAIRO HOUSING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Residents sit on balconies at the Tahya Misr housing project in Al-Asmarat district, Al Mokattam, east of Cairo, Egypt June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh SEARCH "CAIRO HOUSING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
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CAIRO (Reuters) - Bayada Mohamed has left her old slum on a crumbling cliffside and moved into a new flat in a Cairo residential complex, making her among the first to benefit from a government plan to rehouse residents of Egypt's most dangerous slums.

Like other residents of the Doueyka slum where homes have no running water and a rockslide killed about 130 people in 2008, Bayada's family has been offered a rental flat in the recently-opened Tahiya Misr development in the Moqattam area.

"Where was I and where am I now?" exclaimed Bayada, sitting in her new flat surrounded by new furniture.

There are 351 slums deemed unsafe in Egypt, most of them in the sprawling capital where the poorest have built ramshackle homes that lack basic amenities such as mains sewage and water. Some 850,000 people are believed to live in dangerous slums.

Building collapses are common in Cairo, home to some 20 million people, and the shortage of affordable housing is so acute that 1.5 to 2 million are believed to live in tombs in an area known as the City of the Dead.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi promised last month to move all those living in unsafeslums to new flats over the next three years in an ambitious project expected to cost about 14 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.58 billion).

The first two phases of Tahya Misr, which is dedicated to rehousing slumdwellers, were completed in 11 months and comprise 12,000 flats. The third phase opens in 2017, bringing the number of flats to 20,000. The completed complex will house 100,000.

Government efforts to eradicate the worst slums come as Sisi faces growing pressure to revive the economy and avoid the kind of protests that toppled two presidents in the last five years.

But rising prices are eroding living standards in a country where tens of millions rely on state-subsidised food and complicating efforts to rid Egypt of its slums.

Cairo to Replace Crumbling Slums With New Housing Projects

MORE SLUMS

Not all slum residents have been as enthusiastic as Bayada about leaving behind their communities and seeing their old homes demolished.

"Most of the residents of these areas wish to be in areas close to where they are actually living now and this for us is a problem," Sisi said at the recent opening of a low-income housing project in the Madinat Badr area of Cairo.

While it evacuates dangerous areas, the government is upgrading other informal settlements, connecting them to basic services and paving roads.

But many residents are disappointed with the upgrades.

Magdi Mahmoud, a factory worker who lives with his family in the informal settlement of Abu Dahruj in southern Cairo, said the work should have stretched to schools and clinics.

"The improvements are not bad but the important thing is people look after them," he said.

And on Cairo's dusty and desolate fringes, the city's poorest are building more illegal homes on land they do not own.

As the Tahya Misr development nears completion, Ahmed, a vegetable seller, is working with neighbors to complete a new slum near Arab al Barawi, an older informal settlement in southern Cairo, after struggling to afford the rent there.

His new house is built with scavenged materials.

"Thank God, today he blessed us with a bit of wood that was left on the street ... to roof my house," Ahmed said.

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