Cairo from Below is a project born out of research efforts on the governance of land in Cairo by students at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University under the guidance of CSUD Associate Research Scholar Jacqueline Klopp. Feeling that the majority of citizens and communities of Cairo were not consulted or considered in a visioning document for the city’s future, Cairo 2050 (Cairo 2050 can be downloaded on cairofrombelow.org), a group comprised of students, professionals, academics, and activists in Egypt, the US, and around the world founded an online space to debate and formulate a new vision for Cairo at CairofromBelow.org. Today, Cairo from Below is an ever-growing network of individuals committed to inclusive, responsible, and transparent urban planning in Cairo.
The structure of governance over land in Cairo has, for decades, benefited a narrow elite at the expense of the wider population. Land mismanagement, urban planning issues and inadequate, and provision of housing affect daily life and drive discontent among residents in the city. As Egypt emerges from crisis it enters a period of opportunity to reexamine, rethink, and develop new ways of creating a more livable city, a more livable Cairo. Comprehensive and collaborative planning should be at the core of any development project, as these projects directly impact the daily lives and livelihoods of residents both within and outside urban places.
During the summer of 2012, Cairo from Below is holding an international ideas competition called “Our Urban Futures” to inspire more public debate and discussion about urban planning issues in Cairo. The “Our Urban Futures” Competition aims to stimulate debate around how plans and decisions are being made in the city as well as to invite comment, visual material, critique and new ideas about the planning and the process of planning as it currently exists.
For further information and links to online resources please visit CairofromBelow.org.