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Laila Iskandar

Doctorate in Education, Columbia University. Community Development Consultant and Trainer; 25 years' experience with government agencies, private sector, NGOs in institutional building, network creation, public-private partnerships, technology transfer. Formerly, served as a consultant on solid waste management issues, to Minister of Environment, Egypt; evaluated numerous projects and programmes in Middle East, including gender, education and development, environmental projects, child labour programmes, governance issues. International Speaker. Member of Jury, International Literacy Prize, UNESCO.

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CID Consulting
Areas of Impact
Middle East & North Africa

CID Consulting

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CID Consulting works with Cairo’s garbage collectors, introducing them to environmental initiatives that recycle organic waste into raw materials and manufactured goods.

Focus: Education, Enterprise Development, Environment, Waste Management
Geographic Area of Impact: Egypt
Model: Social Business
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 120,000 (2010)
Annual Budget: US$ 3 million (2010)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 75%
Recognition: Schwab Fellow of the World Economic Forum; SEOY, Egypt, 2006

With a population of 15 million and growing at a rate of almost one million every eight months, Cairo has become one of the largest cities in the world. As a result basic services, especially the collection and disposal of waste, are severely strained. For years Cairo’s 60,000 Zabbaleen people, a Coptic Christian community of formerly landless and unemployed peasants, have gathered a large part of the city’s 14,000 tons of daily garbage. They are an industrious people and have been able to create work from waste for thousands of low-income residents, yet they lack resources, political organization and the vision to expand their economic opportunities and protect their interests. CID Consulting focuses on linking productive work with environmental sustainability in poor urban environments, including those inhabited by the Zabbaleen.

Innovation and Activities
Waste management in Egypt has traditionally been perceived by city planners, waste management specialists and engineers as a technology, management and engineering issue. Few municipalities and ministries in charge of waste management have viewed garbage as an issue where consumers have to be involved in crafting sustainable responses. CID highlights how the reality of megacities must place people at the centre of waste management planning.

Laila Iskandar has worked with the Zabbaleen since 1982, introducing innovative social and environmental initiatives that have included recycling as much as 80% of the inorganic waste they collect into raw materials and manufactured goods like plastics, rugs, pots, paper and glass. As a result, garbage collectors have begun to break the cycle of poverty.

CID is a for-profit organization that seeks to link the private, government and non-profit sectors to achieve sustainable development and create viable business partnerships where people and organizations learn together. The consulting agency is working with communities in the Moqattam area outside of Cairo and in other parts of the country, including the Sinai Peninsula, to set up sustainable waste recycling and education programmes. These efforts promote job creation while improving sanitary conditions.

Since its inception, CID has planned and implemented numerous projects that focus on sanitation, crafts production, improvements to low-cost housing, primary healthcare and literacy.

The Entrepreneur
Laila Iskandar studied economics, political science and business in Cairo, and Near Eastern studies and international education development at UC Berkeley and Columbia University. Her work with the Zabbaleen first began with the establishment of a informal school to teach recycling and educate Zabbaleen children on health and hygiene. In 1988 she became the field director for the Association for the Protection of the Environment’s Rag Recycling Center, where she introduced Zabbaleen households to waste recycling and composting. Visualizing a larger goal, she scaled up her community work to set up CID Consulting in 1995. Committed to a grassroots approach to development, she continues to help CID clients devise highly successful programmes that address a range of community concerns.


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