Hany El Miniawy

Ashoka Fellow


This profile was prepared when Hany El Miniawy was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
Hany is introducing low-cost, environmentally friendly housing for squatter and other low-income areas in Egypt, an effort that will decrease the cost of housing by 30 percent. His idea has three main components. First, he is reducing dependency on expensive imported, mass-produced, and environmentally unfriendly building materials by participating with local communities to test and improve the properties of locally available materials, using simple non-polluting production and construction methods. Through experimentation with local ingredients used by the ancient Egyptians and the treatment of polluting materials such as rice straw, cement dust, and iron-fabric leftovers, Hany has been able to create low-cost, government-certified, environmentally friendly construction materials. Second, he is using building techniques that are easier, faster, and more affordable than the techniques currently used to build homes. Finally, he is transferring his know-how of building materials and techniques to youth in low-income, illegal communities, adopting a participatory approach and a mutual-learning process that incorporates local construction knowledge and styles.
Hany’s idea will allow local inhabitants of squatter areas to “upgrade” their homes in a cheaper, more efficient, environmentally-friendly, and participatory manner. From his example, the government can opt for housing upgrades as opposed to forced evictions and demolition as a solution to the increasing phenomenon of squatter areas. In addition, availability of low cost housing will reduce the expansion of squatter areas as people can then afford living in more organized areas.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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