Egypt

Zabbaleen. The Garbage People

In the slums of Cairo the Zabbaleen, a minority community of Egyptian Coptic Christians, make a living by recycling up to 80% of the waste

The Zabbaleen, a community of Egyptian Coptic Christians, make a living by recycling up to 80% of the waste – zabala, in the Egyptian language – which they collect and sort in their own town. They work in the most degrading conditions and they even rear pigs (which are fed on their organic waste) to supplement their income.
The Egyptian authorities ordered the culling of all pigs in 2009, in response to national fears over the spread of H1N1 flue. As a result of this, the living situation for the Zabbaleen has become even poorer even if they continue to breed pigs, illegaly.
Some foreign companies have recently decided to start a recycling business in Cairo, promising to involve the Zabbaleen in their activity: this could either result in an opportunity for the Zabbaleen to become part of the society or in a step closer to isolation.

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