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. A photo of a Bosnian restaurant in Utica, New York
    Equity

    The Cities Refugees Saved

    In the cities where the most refugees per capita were settled since 2005, the newcomers helped stem or reverse population loss.

  2. An aerial photo of downtown Miami.
    Life

    The Fastest-Growing U.S. Cities Aren’t What You Think

    Looking at the population and job growth of large cities proper, rather than their metro areas, uncovers some surprises.

  3. photo: San Diego's Trolley
    Transportation

    Out of Darkness, Light Rail!

    In an era of austere federal funding for urban public transportation, light rail seemed to make sense. Did the little trains of the 1980s pull their own weight?

  4. photo: Developer James Rouse visiting Harborplace in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.
    Life

    What Happened to Baltimore’s Harborplace?

    The pioneering festival marketplace was among the most trendsetting urban attractions of the last 40 years. Now it’s looking for a new place in a changed city.

  5. Design

    Why Amsterdam’s Canal Houses Have Endured for 300 Years

    A different kind of wealth distribution in 17th-century Amsterdam paved the way for its quintessential home design.

×