The community proposed to replace the old kilns with an upgraded, environment-friendly kiln, which the authorities approved and which resulted in the Cairo governor rescinding the decree and allocating 3.5 feddans to build a model pottery and ceramics village with funding from the Cairo Governorate and the Ministry of Tourism. The NGO (Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social ServicesCEOSS) also participated in upgrading 20 kilns and introducing modern technology that limits air pollution. CEOSS also developed 150 of the kiln owners’ and workers’ houses thus benefiting about 600 families. This is the first example in Africa and the Middle East of constructing a pottery and ceramics village and upgrading its kilns.
Main problems the initiative aimed to address:
- Deteriorated health conditions of the local community and surrounding areas and high rates of respiratory diseases;
- High levels of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide in the air causing major environmental pollution;
- The threat that the pottery production and its artistic and cultural endowment would deteriorate and cease to exist, due to the ministerial decree ordering its removal.
Most significant lessons learned:
- Realization that a well-organized community and society can challenge ministerial decrees;
- The importance of civil society participation (in certain cases) toward posing solutions to the financial burdens borne by the State;
- Reliance on more than one fund donor to ensure that the project does not stop at any stage;
- The need to select specialized cadres to train the community on successfully managing projects;
- The need for the local community to participate in all the studies related to determining its actual needs.
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