The Materials Book

191 Enhancing Livability through Resource Efficiency: An Urban Metabolism Study in Cairo Heba Allah Essam E. Khalil Although cities are engines of economic development and concentrations of human activities, they are also hubs for consumption with the resulting environmental degradation. 1 Many experts call for decoupling resource intensity, economic development, and related urban development, especially within cities of the Global South, in favor of adopting a different path toward a green economy. 2 However, it is essential to highlight that urban development in the Global South is mostly attributed to informal urban growth. Such informalization necessitates a thorough understanding of how urban informalities operate in order to design appropriate (responsive) strategies and policies. Using the lens of urban metabolism , the city is seen as an ecosystem with various resources flowing through it. 3 This surpasses the concept based on an analogy of an organism’s metabolism with inputs and outputs, as the city cannot be reduced to a single organism. On the contrary, the overlaying of various system components, each with its inflows and outflows, adds to the complexity of urban reality. The overall aim of using the concept of urban metabolism is to create a naturalesque metabolism advocating a cyclical nature rather than a linear one, to focus on resource management. 4 Hence, this article investigates current resource flows through material flow analysis from source to sink in two diverse districts in Cairo, a formal district and an informal one, regarding materials (waste). The aim is to understand flows in these districts and propose locally responsive interventions that address local

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