Controlling and integrating the growth of informal settlements into the formal planning process : the case of greater Cairo, Egypt

  • Asser Mohamed Badawy Sayed Bakhaty

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The urban informality phenomenon goes back to early 1900s in Egypt. Informal settlements are spontaneously developed areas in or near cities that house low- to middle-income groups of people. They result from rapid urbanisation, a lack of affordable housing, and increased rural-urban migration. With the increasing number of informal settlements, the pressure is on governments to find an appropriate intervention strategy to elevate the living standards of their residents. The quest to find a proper way to upgrade – ranging from the provision of services to comprehensive upgrading – the informal areas has resulted in different interventions; nevertheless, there areshortcomings to those upgrading strategies, which cannot be scaled up or apply it in other locations. Also, there is a knowledge gap in understanding the dynamics and complexity of the informal settlement. The research has four objectives: investigate the different physical, social and economic characteristics, explore success factors of intervention strategies, cross-examine informal settlements with sustainable urban development concepts, and develop an intervention strategy to upgrade, integrate and control the informal settlements. The research has a qualitative approach and a multi-case study design. It started with a systematic literature review from which it developed the Characterisation of Informal Settlements Framework (CISF). The framework aims: to investigate the different characteristics and relationships between them, informal-formal relations and transformation factors, and cross-examine the informal settlements with various sustainable urban concepts. The research investigated an exploratory case study of Belgrade, Serbia, and the two central case studies in Greater Cairo, Ezbet El Haggana and Ard El Lewa (each from the two main typologies in Egypt). The two cases were investigated by reviewing the literature and interviewing different experts. Plus, it tested and adapted the Characterisation of Informal Settlements Framework (CISF) to the context of Greater Cairo. Next, the research investigated factors of success from different studies on informalsettlements in the Global South and Egypt and the interviews with the experts. In the end, the research developed the Control & Integration Model; it is a model for urban integration and governing the growth of the informal settlements through continuing the informalisation process while improving the current conditions through the utilisation of vacant lands between the formal and the informal. In sum, the research has three main contributions to knowledge. First, the Characterisation of Informal Settlements Framework (CISF) provides a better understanding of informal settlements’ characteristics and the relations between them. Also, the spatial and non-spatial factors that influence informal expansion and compare the informal settlements to concepts of sustainable urban form. The second is a methodological approach for studying and analysing informal settlements for better designing comprehensive intervention strategies. Last, it contributed to the literature on sustainable urban development focusing on the Global South and developing countries.
Date of Award22 Nov 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorAshraf Salama (Supervisor) & Ombretta Romice (Supervisor)

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