Monday, September 29, 2008

A tale for old cities

Al Ahram Weekly (Jill Kamil)

Back in 1990, 29 Egyptian scholars were called upon to propose strategies for the implementation of UNDP-sponsored Task Force for Sustainable Development. Adli Bishai, director of a project in Gammaliya now known as FEDA (Friends of Environment and Development Association), took the bait, but soon found that he in turn was expected to land an extraordinarily large fish.

Gammaliya has been the commercial and industrial centre of the city since the end of the 19th century, and it has, moreover, the highest concentration of Islamic monuments in the world. Bishai's aim was to evaluate the condition of the area, including past conservation efforts, and to remedy errors and place the historic zone under a unified body as opposed to many ministries and government-sponsored organisations.

Sceptical colleagues and friends told him it wouldn't work. They pointed out that the plan, as he envisioned it, would entail working with different ministries which were subject to the law and unlikely to change. He was warned that it was totally unrealistic to expect them to collaborate.

Undaunted, Bishai moved ahead. He started in 1993 by setting up FEDA, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), and proposed a framework for sustainable development based on a balance between resource management, environmental protection, human development and economic growth. It was an enormously ambitious plan. Fifteen years down the line, however, the impossible is well on its way to being achieved.

See the above page for the full story.

No comments: