About the A.P.E.
APE is a non-government organization.
Established in 1984 to improve the lives of garbage collectors,
it is run by a 9 member board of trustees, a staff of over 50
and scores of volunteers drawn from various fields of special
Today about 25,000 people live in
(having grown from a population of 8,000 in the early 1980s) and
almost all of them live off, or are involved in, garbage
It is estimated that more than 40% of
Cairo’s garbage is not collected formally. The garbage
collectors- the zabbaleen- handle this part of the garbage
produced by the 19 million inhabitants of Cairo at no cost
to the city authorities.
Specifically this means that the zabbaleen
collect about 7,000 tons of garbage every day and up to 90 per
cent of that waste is recycled by them directly.
Since no one pays them to collect the
garbage, the zabbaleen make their living from recycling what they collect. This is why the garbage
industry at the Mokattam is the most efficient recycling
industry in the world. At
Most zabbaleen children have not had any
access to formal education. Schools, until relatively recently,
were not a feature of the garbage settlements and children from
an early age work with their parents either sorting waste or
helping on the collection routes.
In 1997 it was estimated that of the
youngsters aged 12 to 14, 66 per cent of boys and 59 per cent
of girls were working.
APE aim to make a real business
out of the zabbaleen work by emphasis that recycling is an
important industry and that development and environmental
preservation are not incompatible.
One of the APE initiatives has been the
construction of a centre for workshops producing patchwork and
recycled paper products. Starting by collecting rags from the textile
mills and factories, the centre today teaches more than 250 young women how to
sort, design, cut, sew, weave,
iron and recycle these fabrics into patchwork quilts,
bedspreads, rugs, bags and other marketable items. See more under APE