By 2005 there were around 50 informal settlements in Alexandria, accounting for about 9.7% of the total area of the Governorate. These informal areas accommodate as many as 1.4 million inhabitants, representing 42% of the total population of the Governorate and putting the existing social and urban infrastructure under great pressure. Such informal or unplanned settlements seriously limit the abilities of residents in obtaining basic infrastructure and public services. One of the main objectives of the LA was explore methods of participatory action to deliver water supply and sanitation services to poverty stricken sectors of society.
The SWITCH demonstration site (Ma'awa El Sayadeen) is an impoverished area of a fishing village. This village encompasses a space of 114,000 m2 and has approximately 1000 households. The selected area, which had received no proper development of the infrastructure since 1962 was suffering from the following conditions.
- Frequent blockage of the sanitation network and sewage overflows
- Frequent flooding of streets and homes during the rainy season
- Offensive odour all year round
- 25% of the houses not connected to the drinking water network with residents of these houses generally relying on receiving water from neighbours
The SWITCH demonstration attempted to address the water management in the neighborhood in an integrated way through improvements to the water supply, sanitation and drainage systems. Household survey, leakage reduction, water efficiency actions, and a collaborative initiative to improve the sewerage pipe network were all undertaken.
The demonstration was an innovative partnership between the Government entities (Water and Sanitary Drainage Companies) and the local community. Legislation currently prevents formalisation of the informal areas that would occur if public water and drainage system were supplied. The demo showed that by working with the stakeholders and having a shared objective the social impacts of being deprived of such infrastructure can largely be overcome.
The Water Company has now been able to trial leakage detection technologies, and gauge the potential outcome of the leakage and water demand reduction trials so that this can, after further verification, be rolled out over the whole urban area. AWCO has a ten year DMA Programme for all of their networks that will benefit from the learning from the Ma'awa El Sayadeen demonstration project.
The results from the alternative supply sources investigation for the Sports Club has provided the first real local examination of the ground water potential for such irrigation requirements and as Alexandria contains a large number of such clubs and public open spaces and the results of the trials carried out under the demonstration have been encouraging for AWCO to investigate this in more detail.
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