The dense community of Al-Darb al-Ahmar, located south of al-Azhar Mosque, once flourished with artisans and small enterprises. However, poverty has prevailed in the area in the past few decades. Darb al-Ahmar households are among the poorest in Egypt, living on the equivalent of less than one US dollar per day. The district suffers a number of negative social, economic and physical factors, including low family incomes and an economic base that lags behind other parts of Cairo; the absence of essential community facilities and services; and a lack of private sector investment.
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) first became involved in Al-Darb al-Amar in connection with the Al-Azhar Park project in al-Darassa adjacent to the DAA District. As the physical work on Al-Azhar Park evolved – with the additional discovery and excavation of the former Ayyubid wall – the socio-economic fragility and inherent problems of the neighbouring Darb al-Ahmar district became more apparent. In order to address these problems, AKTC expanded the scope of its activities in the area and embarked on a comprehensive socio-economic rehabilitation program for DAA.
|The Al-Darb Al-Ahmar Community Development Project aims to bring long-lasting improvements in the socio-economic status and the living conditions of the population of the area. Since 2003, CIDA has been supporting AKTC interventions to improve levels of employment in Darb al-Ahmar by encouraging development of entrepreneurship and job creation as well as involvement in job placement for local residents elsewhere in greater Cairo. These well-integrated initiatives comprising training, skill development, employment counseling, an apprenticeship program and guidance for vulnerable populations such as women and youth, will reinforce the development of a workforce that has skills which are suitable to the environment and needs of Cairo and its communities.|
This program will be complemented with improved access to micro-credit through the newly established First Microfinance Foundation, Egypt (FMF-E), an initiative of the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance. As a transparent, sustainable, locally managed lending institution, the First Microfinance Foundation will underpin entrepreneurial activity, especially for women. To further the advancement of private sector development in the community, contributions will also be made towards improved marketing for goods produced and/or sold by the residents that will attract customers and tourists, and contribute to the broader goals of economic activity and growth.
Source: Egypt PSU