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!







The Egyptian Chronicles is a cooperative effort by a group of Egyptian authors pooling together their talents for the sake of Egypt's Future.  Articles contained in these pages are the personal views and/or work of the authors, who bear the sole responsibility of the content of their work. This Monthly Electronic Magazine is a non-profit, commercial free zone and is answerable to no one.