The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


DPU Working Paper - No. 84

Socio-Political and Economic Costs of A Donor-led Housing Programme


24 July 1997

Authors: Taher, N.

Publication Date: 1997

This paper will examine the socio-political and economic impacts of one of the largest USAID housing Projects in Egypt, `Housing and Community Upgrading For Low Income Egyptians' which was initiated by USAID in 1976. The Project, with a budget of $160 Million, was co-funded by the Government of Egypt (GOE) and USAID. It was located in Helwan, which is an industrial suburb 30 Km south from the centre of Cairo (see Appendix 1 for maps).

The GOE had been predominantly involved in the construction of public housing or `conventional housing', which was, according to the thinking of the time, an inefficient housing solution for low income populations. The main approach to low income housing initiatives have been the construction of five story high public housing which often went to middle rather than low income people. The Helwan Project was therefore the first large scale `non-conventional' housing initiative in greater Cairo.

The main goal of the Project was "..to demonstrate the viability of a new approach to housing policy in Egypt for low income families in a manner that allows the GOE to recover a substantial percentage of its investment "(Project Paper, 1978). The main policy changes that USAID was seeking were, among others: a switch in the GOE's emphasis on middle to low-income families; a reduction in subsidies by reducing standards; and encouragement of mobilisation of private savings for investment in housing (Ibid) (see Appendix 2 for full list of objectives). 

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