The Greater Cairo Region (GCR) with a present population approaching 20 million is a vast agglomeration that comprises the urbanized area of the Governorates of Cairo, Giza, Qalyobiya, Helwan, Sixth October and the eight new urban communities that surround. It is place of unique political and culture significance in the Arab World. It is also home to archeological and historical landmarks that make it one of most important tourist destinations in the world, including the pyramids and the sphinx.
As with other mega-cities, GCR is the prime engine of economic growth and the main population center in Egypt. Yet, this note comes with many key challenges; most importantly planning, infrastructure and service delivery which has been managed to barely keep up with the very rapid urban growth over the past four decades. In an effort to reposition Cairo and grasp its competitive endowments and improve service delivery, the Egyptian government has recently embarked on an ambitious project, in collaboration with UNHABITAT and UNDP to prepare a Strategic Urban Development Plan for the region in order to ensure the GCR manages to attain a better quality of life for its inhabitants and enhance its position as a "Global City" and a prime urban destination in the Arab World.
The long term goal of the project is to contribute to sustainable urban development of the Greater Cairo Region and increase its competitiveness on both the regional and global levels though achieving a number of short term impacts such as: Strengthening the global linkages and integration between the existing urban built-up area and new urban communities; Defining the economic role and the competitive economic clusters of the region to leverage their potentials; Increasing the efficiency of the framework for managing the region; and Consolidating the active participation of key stakeholders in the decision making and planning process through the strategic planning approach. The time horizon for the project is the year 2050 but will start with a short/medium-term action plan involving the following key activities:
- Developing Upgrading Plans for existing slums and informal settlements within the region and surrounding them with new planned areas to prevent their informal expansion.
- Transfer of Ministries and governmental buildings form the old inner city center to a new governmental center of the peripheries of the region.
- Relocation of polluting land uses outside the inner city areas.
- Developing a new traffic and transportation strategic plan.
- Developing a new master plan for the infrastructure.
- Developing an integrated Local Economic Development Strategy to improve the region's competitiveness.
- Revitalization of Historical Centers within the regions. UNHABITAT, in line with its competencies, will avail its expertise and provide the technical assistance and support to GOPP in the planning process, capacity building, management, contracting out of some specialized planning and urban design tasks and monitoring outcomes. Project started in 2008 and is expected to be completed in 2012.