The garbage man's war against big corporations
In the heart of Cairo’s thrash pickers’ neighborhood, the smell of garbage floats through the air. It is here that a large part of the 18,000 tonnes of waste from the Egyptian capital is dumped every day. Cairo is a huge crowded city, the biggest metropolis of the Middle East with more than 20 million people.
At the foot of the Mokattam hill, behind the piles of rubbish, there is a whole organized network of micro-enterprises which recycle more than 80% of Cairo’s waste every day. The so-called “Zabbalines” tirelessly collect the capital’s rubbish and have the reputation of being the greatest experts in selective sorting in the world.
But ten years ago, the authorities decided to clear the way by entrusting the collection of waste to large European companies, thus depriving the garbage men of their livelihood.
In an Egypt now governed by general Al Sissi, this Coptic minority tries to continue to live off its unique know-how, often illegally. Today, the new generation of “Zabbalines” is more than ever determined to assert their rights to become officially part of the “modern” waste management.