Why do buildings collapse in Egypt?

Saturday 7 June 2014

EIPR launches preliminary findings on the building collapse phenomena through interactive website

EIPR launched today the interactive website egyptbuildingcollapses.org which visualises data and analysis gathered over the course of one year, July 2012 to June 2013, documenting 392 residential building collapses which resulted in 192 deaths and 824 families made homeless.

This interest in monitoring and analysing building collapses started just after the gruesome disaster in July 2012, where an 11 storey building collapsed in the old neighbourhood of al-Gumrok in Alexandria, leaving more than 20 people dead. As one of the residents put it; “they [the local council] should decide what should happen with the [precarious] buildings. Which should be demolished and which should be restored. Our work and our families are here, if we leave here we die, we don't know any place but here.”

The preliminary findings have shown that in-spite of a battery of laws that regulate, in much detail, construction and building maintenance, the lax enforcement of these laws by government authorities has led to the periodic occurrence of disastrous collapses. These unchecked actions have been responsible for 52% of collapses, in addition to a staggering 90% of deaths and 65% of the families made homeless.

In addition to lax regulation of construction and building maintenance, these findings have shown another main cause behind the collapses. The lack of proper planning and development, such as rising ground water in quickly urbanising villages that lack proper waste water infrastructure or acts of nature such as flash floods in areas unprepared for this seasonal phenomena, have been responsible for 46% of collapses and 10% of deaths. They have also resulted in the displacement of 33% of the total number of families displaced because of building collapses. Most people see these collapses as fate, although their exists a developed legal framework to prevent such disasters from happening, and government agencies paid and entrusted to enforce these laws and ensure the safety of residents.

EIPR hopes that these statistics and visualisation will help authorities and residents in taking building collapses seriously, and work towards curbing such social and material loss. EIPR is also working on an in-depth study on building collapses which will be released over the coming months with more detail as well as recommendations.

EIPR's Housing and Land Rights Programme and Field Offices as well as ShadowMinistryOfHousing.org have collaborated on data gathering and analysis, while the data visualisation is the work of Tactical Technology Collective.