Skip to main content

CNN iReporter: 'Oceans of garbage' in Egypt's streets

By Oliver Joy, CNN
April 22, 2013 -- Updated 1126 GMT (1926 HKT)
Piles of uncollected garbage lay strewn over the walkways of Egypt's suburbs. <a href='http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-951997'>Picture from iReporter Mahmoud Gamal El-Din</a>. Piles of uncollected garbage lay strewn over the walkways of Egypt's suburbs. Picture from iReporter Mahmoud Gamal El-Din.
HIDE CAPTION
Egypt's economic turmoil
Egypt's economic turmoil
Egypt's economic turmoil
Egypt's economic turmoil
<<
<
1
2
3
4
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Egypt -- the Arab world's most populous nation -- is seeking a rescue loan of $4.8 billion
  • Egypt is grappling with a high unemployment rate of 13% and a young workforce
  • International Monetary Fund projects inflation in Egypt to rise to 10.7 in 2013

Editor's note: CNN iReport invites you to share your story with CNN, and quite possibly the world. Log in here to tell us your thoughts.

(CNN) -- In the outlying slums of Cairo, people "drown in oceans of garbage" and are forced to live with the stench of polluted air, says Mahmoud Gamal, 26, a marketing executive living in Cairo, Egypt's capital.

Gamal's comments were made through CNN iReport, which has an assignment on life in Egypt under President Mohamed Morsy.

The iReporters describe a life in which many people in the North African nation are facing a daily battle against poverty, spiraling inflation and high unemployment. Morsy, meanwhile, is in negotiations for the country to get an economic rescue package from the International Monetary Fund.

Sectarian violence and protests over rising prices and poor wages following the Arab Spring are decimating foreign investment. The country also remains divided over Islamist leader Morsy, who came to power as Egypt's first popularly elected president after Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February 2011.

Morsy's office did not respond to a request for comment about the economic situation in his country when contacted by CNN. But, in an exclusive interview with CNN in January, Morsy said: "To start real stability and development, we may take six months or a year but to reach what we want may take five to 10 years... I'm talking economically."

Egypt's economy still struggling
Egyptians fume over fuel shortage
Egypt's unraveling revolution
ElBaradei: Pillars for Egypt's progress

"Egyptians don't trust the president and the government," Maged Eskander, a 38-year-old architect from the Egyptian capital told CNN iReport. "They simply don't have the vision, the ability or will to lead the country."

Read more: Why Egypt's transition from its Arab Spring is so painful

When Egyptians descended on Tahrir Square in early 2011, rising against Mubarak's near three decade rule, they did not expect he would be replaced by a "carbon copy," Gamal said. Morsy is making the country's dire economic situation "worse," he added.

Egypt -- the Arab world's most populous nation -- is seeking a rescue loan of $4.8 billion from the Washington-based IMF to buoy its ailing economy and a weak currency that is driving up consumer prices.

Read more: ElBaradei: Pillars of Egypt's progress

In return, the IMF wants Egypt to overhaul its finances, cut energy subsidies, raise taxes and reduce its budget deficit before offering support.

In March, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry released $250 million in economic aid to Egypt, calling it a "good faith effort" and urging Morsy to pledge economic and political reforms.

Read more: Egypt president's tricky game of power

But Gamal told CNN ordinary Egyptians are already struggling to pay for water and electricity while mothers queue up in bread lines. "[They] would be lucky if they come back with anything," he added.

The cost of fuel, particularly diesel, is also on the increase as transport in large parts of the country is paralyzed by shortages of subsidized diesel.

Soaring unemployment

Egypt -- one of Africa's largest economies -- is also grappling with a high unemployment rate of 13% and a young workforce that is becoming increasingly frustrated by a lack of skilled jobs.

Ahmed Raafat, a 23-year-old unemployed graduate engineer, said Egypt suffered hugely under the iron fist of Mubarak but now "things are getting even worse." Raafat believes the policies of Morsy's government are "crushing" the country's poor and middle earners.

"It's hard to find a job in Egypt," Raafat said. "Many of my friends are facing the same problems."

According to Gamal: "University graduates that should be working as journalists, engineers and accountants now work as waiters and taxi drivers."

One major contributor to Egypt's unemployment woes is its tourism-dependent economy, which went into a tail-spin following the revolution.

Security concerns in Cairo and the country's top resorts are making would-be holidaymakers look to alternative destinations and forcing employers to scale back.

Rafaat said: "My family works in the tourism industry which many describe as the life blood of Egypt. It has almost dried up due to the lack of security."

But Egypt's tourism minister Hisham Zazou has recently told CNN the industry had cause for optimism. He said Egypt had been enjoying an uptick in tourism and that it was a mistake to think the entire country was dangerous.

Since the revolution in 2011, sectarian violence between Coptic Christians and Muslims has marred Egypt's image as a safe country for visitors. This month one person was killed and more than 80 injured in fighting outside the Coptic Othodox Cathedral in central Cairo, where a funeral for four Egyptian Christians, killed in fighting, took place.

Hardline Islamists -- repressed under the autocratic rule of Mubarak -- have been given more freedom under the governance of Morsy and the Muslim Brotherhood, leading to large-scale religious clashes in Muslim-dominated Egypt.

Ninety percent of Egypt's 82 million population is Muslim, while about 9% is made up of Christians.

Eskander said the streets of Cairo are "condensed with anger and frustration" and the security situation remains "bad." He blames police for failing to control the fighting.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT)
Tethered to an IV drip, 71-year-old Shin Young Ja lies under a thin fleece blanket, nursing a broken back and wracked with survivor's guilt.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1148 GMT (1948 HKT)
The Vice-Principal of Danwon High School was rescued from sinking ferry last week. Two days later he took his own life, wracked with survivor's guilt.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
Family members of the missing passengers are pinning slim hopes on floundering air pockets.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 0629 GMT (1429 HKT)
The world's most memorable accommodations don't always come with five stars. Sewer pipe hotel, anyone?
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 0201 GMT (1001 HKT)
Love eating? Money? Appreciate efficient population density? HK might be the city for you.
April 17, 2014 -- Updated 1614 GMT (0014 HKT)
An Iranian mother slaps and then forgives her 17-year old son's murderer in dramatic scenes at the gallows.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1113 GMT (1913 HKT)
Prince George takes a special interest in an Australian animal on a zoo trip.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
An "extraordinary" video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1230 GMT (2030 HKT)
Explore each side's case, reconstructed from Pistorius' court affidavit and the prosecution's case during last year's bail hearing.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
Mentions of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests or political reform are still censored in China.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 0934 GMT (1734 HKT)
The Hadza are one of the last communities of hunter-gatherers in the world -- but losing their land.
April 19, 2014 -- Updated 0122 GMT (0922 HKT)
In choosing to change a traditional practice, Francis is being as radical as Jesus was in his own time.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1113 GMT (1913 HKT)
Too weak. Can't handle pressure. Unattractive to sponsors. Susie Wolff has heard it all.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1107 GMT (1907 HKT)
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1230 GMT (2030 HKT)
It's like finding a needle in a universe-wide haystack. Researchers have located a planet roughly the size of Earth that could be habitable.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 0940 GMT (1740 HKT)
Dubai, long champion of all things biggest, longest and most expensive, will soon have some competition from a neighboring country.
ADVERTISEMENT