Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Homeless in Egypt

Every night during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan a popular television programme has been giving away a new flat to a couple who cannot marry simply because they cannot afford a home. Marriage in Egypt is the gateway to adulthood yet it is estimated that almost half of all Egyptian men remain unmarried at the age of 30. The main reason is the cost which typically involves buying and furnishing a home.

A drive on a main road out of Cairo reveals no housing shortage. In fact there are thousands of acres of new developments. Many are gated compounds with their own swimming pools and gyms. Some have their own private schools and clinics. Here, those who can afford it live in relative luxury.
In the areas inhabited by the masses of Egyptians on lower incomes and the contrast is stark.
There has been little investment in homes for the less well-off at a time of increased urbanisation. Millions of people live in old, overcrowded tenements and unplanned, fast-expanding slums.

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