This profile was prepared when Mohamed Sherif El Ghamrawy was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
The problem of waste management is bearing down on communities across Egypt, vexing the government, siphoning resources from other important initiatives, and endangering environmental and public health. Sherif has designed an effective, locally managed approach to garbage disposal that creates jobs and capitalizes on the collection and resale of recyclable materials. In it, neighbors work together in a coordinated effort to rid their streets of trash, building a full community investment in environmental conservation. Sherif demonstrates that local management can be a valuable and responsible alternative to the costly programs offered by foreign companies. He established the citizen sector organization Hemaya (meaning “protection”) in 1997 to test his approach in Sinai, and he is now spreading this approach far and wide, offering advice and technical expertise to hundreds of prospective founders of waste management initiatives.