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Cleaning the streets of Cairo.

27 years of community empowerment.

To be a garbage collector in Cairo is to be born into an enduring minority community – the Zabbaleen – where life and (informal) livelihood are tightly interwoven. A.P.E. (the Association for the Protection of the Environment) works with this traditionally marginalised group to find innovative ways to develop environmentally sound waste management practices whilst improving their living conditions and opportunities. 

Since 1984, A.P.E.’s participatory approach has focused on four main sectors: the environment, community empowerment, education and employment. Leveraging the Zabbaleen’s traditional recycling expertise (85 per cent of Cairo’s garbage is recycled), the organization has trained and employed young men in the construction and operation of recycling machinery, whilst its ‘learn and earn’ income-generating programs are designed to empower young women through the production of handicrafts from salvaged materials. A.P.E. bags have been stocked in Marc Jacobs stores worldwide.

(Photo © A.P.E.)