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GARBAGE CITY

The Zabbaleen ("garbage people" in Egyptian Arabic) are Cairo's informal garbage collectors since the Sixties. Zabbaleen's largest settlement is Mokattam village, nicknamed as Garbage City, with a population of 30.000, over 90 percent of which are Coptic Christians. The Zabbaleen collect 4.000 tons of rubbish each day - about a third of Cairo’s output - using donkey-pulled carts and pick-up trucks, then transport the garbage to their homes, sort it, and finally sell it to middlemen or create new materials from their recycled garbage. Notably, the Zabbaleen recycle up to 85 % of the collected waste. Their existence has come under threat after the authorities’ decision to award annual contracts to three multinational garbage disposal companies. Immediately after, observers have noticed a visible increase of trash piles on the streets of Cairo.