The Arab Republic of Egypt has undertaken a number of projects aimed at low-income groups to meet the general dire housing shortage in the country. For older urban districts, upgrading projects entailing the participation of the inhabitants are gaining some popularity and intended to provide a suitable programme different from the prevailing government housing policy of demolition and new construction of sometimes inappropriate multi-storey residential buildings. The Nasriya project in Aswan was the third urban upgrading scheme, to be implemented from 1987-91. The concern was to find financially acceptable and socially bearable ways of improving the living conditions of residents by improving inadequate or run-down housing and utilities. In addition, by means of suitable programmes and activities, the idea was to awaken the residents' interest in developing their abilities in self-help administration and in technical matters to train them in the maintenance of constructed or improved infrastructures.
The settlement of Nasriya is located on the outskirts of Aswan approximately 2 km east of the centre of the town. It is one of the most populous districts of Aswan aside from the urban centre. With a population of about 50'000 inhabitants it shelters roughly one-quarter of the population of Aswan.
The settlement of Nasriya before the upgrading project suffered from a lack of any proper sanitation or water supply. The Aswan municipality had installed just a few public taps along the Kima canal, running along the western boundary of the area, for the estimated 40'000 inhabitants in the 1980s. Most of the residents, especially women and children, had to carry water containers on their shoulders for long distances up to their houses. Better-off families used donkeys to carry these containers or hired daily paid carriers. The water supply problem was thus more magnified for people living far from these taps, especially those residents further up the hilly slope on the eastern fringes of the settlement.
The Nasriya Upgrading Project aims to prove that it is possible to maintain an existing residential area while providing it with the appropriate infrastructure at a minimum cost, through the participation of its inhabitants. Its main objectives were as follows:
· to improve the standard of living within the area; · to provide the area with the essential infrastructure; · to promote the self-help abilities of the population and emphasise the significance of peoples' participation; and · to promote the Nasriya Upgrading Project as an example of integrated upgrading for other areas throughout Egypt.
The programme for the Nasriya Upgrading Project encompassed the following components:
· the implementation of a sewage network; · the provision of a water supply network with a pumping station and a water tank; · the establishment and organisation of a refuse collection system; · the construction of a service centre; · the improvement of roads and access within the area; · the improvement of community facilities; · the implementation of social programmes within the communities and the development of income generation projects; · the improvement and extension of schools; and · the offer to obtain land freehold titles.
The project's main aim was not towards direct housing improvements or construction of building structures but one of providing technical and social infrastructure that would make it possible for other activities like home improvement programmes to be achieved. In this respect the first three components of the project, the sewage network, water supply, and the establishment of a refuse collection system attracted a fairly high percentage of project funds and resources.