Reuters

A new documentary follows a family of Coptic Christians, one of thousands who tend to the city's trash

Cairo has one of the most effective recycling programs in the Middle East. But it's borne on the backs of the city's "garbage people," Coptic Christians who harvest and sort 15,000 tons of waste every day.

Their lives are documented in a new film Zabaleen, which follows Mourad Waleed, his wife Um, and their 11 children. The city of Cairo is nominally responsible for tending to waste. But corruption has resulted in an erosion of municipal services, and the Zabaleen take up the slack. According to Green Prophet, nearly 80 percent of all waste is recycled.

In one clip, the family explains their day.

Here's another that explains a bit more about the project:

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. The Presidio Terrace neighborhood
    POV

    The Problem of Progressive Cities and the Property Tax

    The news that a posh San Francisco street was sold for delinquent taxes exposes the deeper issue with America’s local revenue system.

  2. "Gift Horse"—a skeletal sculpture of a horse by artist Hans Haacke—debuted on the Fourth Plinth in London's Trafalgar Square in 2015.
    Design

    What To Do With Baltimore's Empty Confederate Statue Plinths?

    Put them to work, Trafalgar Square style.

  3. POV

    Grenfell Was No Ordinary Accident

    The catastrophic fire that killed at least 80 in London was the inevitable byproduct of an ideology that vilified the poor.

  4. Times Square, 1970.
    Life

    The New York That Belonged to the City

    Hyper-gentrification turned renegade Manhattan into plasticine playground. Can the city find its soul again?

  5. Equity

    The Geography of Hate in the U.S.

    Where hate groups operate now.