Featured Image Via: Sekketak Khadra
Through the crowds, rush hours, and bureaucracy, sometimes we forget to see the positives happening around us. We’re in grave danger when cynicism takes over our thoughts, but it is something we can change. This is exactly why we’re presenting to you six initiatives that aim to turn negatives 180 degrees and do something to change thoughts and mindsets. These ideas look at the bright side, which is the ability to improve, and perhaps they’ll inspire us to do more, and ripple into something much bigger than when it started.
1. Union of Area Residents
This is a fresh, newly formed union. It was created with the purpose of gathering the residents of a certain area into a committee, or union, that can take a stand against the deterioration of their community. The project aims to counter the negative effects on historical buildings, and use people of its community by helping them stand together to improve their own neighbourhood. It first started in Al-Borsa Area which has seen significant improvements in the past few months, which prompted the government to widen the scale of these unions.
2. Be Like Adam
Perhaps you’ve seen signs and billboards with that slogan splattered all over Cairo near the end of last year. Unfortunately, it hasn’t seen a huge marketing reach since, but the effect on Cairo streets is real. It’s a governmental initiative towards promoting cleanliness as a habit in the community, and has started with schools, clubs, and a number of public places. Throwing trash in cans instead of on the streets is such a simple habit, but instilling it in the community will have a huge effect on the cleanliness of our beloved Cairo.
3. Water Saving Campaign
Egypt is privileged to have a huge drinking water resource in the river Nile, but even with such a blessing, we need to control our consumption. Through awareness campaigns, increased fees, and hefty punishments, we were able to save over 250 thousand cubic metres of daily water consumption from a total of million cubic metres.
4. The Pavement is for Pedestrians
This movement aims to clear the pavement of any street shops, extension of coffee shops, or anything else that hinders the ability of pedestrians to walk on pavements. Regulating this will not only help in commuting on foot, but also in improving traffic by keeping pedestrians off streets that belong to vehicles. The difference in this movement is that it aims to make people aware of their right, and use them to keep the pavement clear. We hope this is coupled by an initiative to improve the state of small or inadequate pavements so people don’t have to walk on roads.
5. Cleaning Up Roofs
Clutter is one of our biggest enemies, and unfortunately, the easy way out can sometimes be throwing away all our clutter in places we think are out of sight. A lot of this rubbish ends up on our roofs, which is why the government started an initiative to clean up those roofs, and has provided the needed equipment to facilitate that process. A number of areas has seen great improvements, namely Heliopolis, which has participated very positively. This could be an opportunity to make better use of these roofs with a number of ideas: solar panels or green areas are just some of the most basic ideas to utilise these areas.
This is perhaps one of our favourite initiatives. The Sekketak Khadra initiative aims to make bicycle commutes a common alternative in Cairo streets. The crowded streets and increased oil prices make cars not the best of choice, but bicycles can be great for your health, and save you time as well. Making streets better for bicycles, providing adequate parking spaces, and spreading awareness on bicycle commutes are the main goals of this campaign. The Cairo Governorate has also made a deal with the United Nations to procure 600 bicycles to be used in Downtown Cairo on a rental basis. We’re very excited to see how this pans out.
There are a couple of more initiatives we just had to mention, and they are both concerned with preserving and promoting Egyptian heritage on the street. The first one is the Lived Here initiative which puts signs on buildings where historical figures lived, and the other one is Street Story Project which tells the story of a street through a sign briefly explaining its history.
Besides the significant effect that such campaigns can have, what we take from those is how a lot of them depend on spreading awareness, and on giving people the power to improve their community. This says that no matter how difficult things can get, a small light can shine through individual efforts, and who knows how many will follow.