|The whole situation began a few years
back with the building of a road (Tariyq da'iriy)
looping the borders of Lake Burullus (a large lagoon, separated
from the Mediterranean Sea by a sand dune bar). The whole area is
part of Kafr al-Shaykh governorate. Until recently
the main economic activities were fishing and agriculture. With access
to the new road which stretches some 150 miles (240 km) from Alexandria
to Port Said, and looping the southern shores of al-Burullus
as well, many private developers began to expand and built private summer
resorts for their affluent customers.
As these resorts were built, they naturally
attracted many who were seeking work. It is estimated that each resort
resident is a magnet for the services of 4 personnel (workers or vendors
etc.) However, personnel are usually not provided with housing or
even appropriated facilities close to the premises.
In a nutshell, in their designs, resort
projects totally ignored the need to build any auxiliary facilities for
working personnel. The result is that they are left on their own to fend
for themselves in shanty towns near by. These shanty towns, or "bidonvilles,"
are denuded of the simplest sanitary amenities such as running water.
Compounding the problem is that the only water facility located at al-Hamuwl
is designed to meet the consumption demands of the summer vacationers alone.
Call it bad planning, or simply natural
blinders for greedy developers' eyes who do not see the value for spending
anything on workers whose fate has always been conveniently ignored.
Here is how the crisis begins to take shape:
Lacking the access to running water, the inhabitants of these shanty towns
have resorted to the use of manual pumps. In addition, facing the
prospect of no sewage system available, they improvised with unsanitary
makeshift cesspits dug haphazardly. Overtime these cesspits filled to capacity
with contaminants posing a severe threat to the water table below.
Unfortunately, the present manual pumps
used in these shanty towns belong to type "A" shown in the diagram.
Due to their limited depth, these tap unsafe drinking water. Hence, the
growing crisis which we are witnessing today.
Type "A" pumps Aka "habashiyah"
with 10 meters in vertical suction lift, are totally inadequate as they
can only tap the upper part of the water table which is contaminated and
unfit for human consumption. Type "B" pumps with 35 meters in vertical
suction are the only ones capable of bypassing the contaminated segment
of the water table. These are more expensive and currently unavailable
There are government plans to build an
additional water station at al-Khasha`ah, but its
completion is 16 months away. Meanwhile, the only adequate pumps to access
drinking water safely is type "B" which can go to a depth of 35
meters , thus bypassing the contaminated water table. These are more expensive
and are unavailable.
With each passing summer season, the situation
became more and more critical, along with the growing frustration of the
inhabitants of the shanty towns. This summer the situation reached critical
mass and the inhabitants finally got fed up. They began to rebel
and took matters in their own hands by cutting completely the access to
the road and burning tires to express their anger. As usual, crises
of that magnitude have their ripple effects which are manifested in similar
conditions in the adjacent areas like in al-Mahalah al-Kubra
and Kafr al-Shaykh.
This unfortunate situation is being repeated
everywhere the private sector is expanding and building new cities to accommodate
mostly affluent customers.
As for the simple Egyptian citizens:May
Allah have mercy on us!