Land, Legitimacy and Governance in Revolutionary Cairo
Student workshopMarch 2012
Table of content
For decades the structure of governance over land in Cairo has benefited a narrow elite at the expense of the wider population. Institutions and processes determining how land is used have produced significant inequalities; more than half of Cairo’s population now lives extralegally in a diverse assortment of informal areas. The January 25 revolution opens a timely and much needed space for reflection and reformation of the systems of governance over land in Cairo.
Actor and institutional mapping, case studies and detailed interviews were employed to explore our thesis: institutional recognition of the interests of all segments of the social strata is necessary for a legitimate and credible system of governance over land in Cairo. The paper concludes with a set of suggestions for the way forward. These, among other issues, need to be debated by Cairenes when redesigning institutions of governance over land and evaluating proposed institutional arrangements. Our suggestions include:
● Develop a new vision for Cairo and its future that represents the collective interests of Cairenes through formal consultation and engagement between planners and residents
from al levels of the social strata, rather than continue with the elite vision symbolized by the Cairo 2050 document.
● Debate the vision at all scales. Considerations at a macro scale include whether to balance investment in satellite cities that have historically benefited a narrow elite and foreign investors with reinvestment in the dense urban core, which could benefit the wider population along social, economic and environmental dimensions.
● Review the conditions under which resettlement for urban renewal and planning is necessary and identify appropriate compensation for those displaced along transparent
mechanisms for disbursing it.
● Discuss the existing and potential future legal system with respect to land. Debates might include how to synthesize and simplify a comprehensive legal system that supports equitable use of land and decision making, decentralize decision making, and explicitly define and codify responsibilities for all government bodies that make decisions about land. Details should be debated regarding the design of formal mechanisms of public disclosure and consultation in land governance at multiple scales.
● Consider land tenure and service delivery in extralegal areas. Establishing land rights must be part of a wider process of establishing effective institutions in previously
underserved areas to prevent possible