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Heriot -Watt University (2004)

Sustaining the population growth of desert settlements, case study : North Sinai, Egypt

Rizk, Hossam El-Din Mostafa I.

Titre : Sustaining the population growth of desert settlements, case study : North Sinai, Egypt

Auteur Rizk, Hossam El-Din Mostafa I.

Université de soutenance : Heriot -Watt University

Grade : PhD Doctor of Philosophy 2004

Egypt faces ongoing problems in its population distribution. While heavily populated areas of the Nile Valley continue to attract migrants, depopulated areas remain largely empty. In North Sinai, in spite of governmental support represented in new infrastructure and many urban and investment projects, there exists a tremendous under- population problem. In the meantime the urban centres of Egypt are suffering worsening social, economic, infrastructural and environmental problems exacerbated by overpopulation. This thesis addresses the concept of sustaining population growth of desert settlements. It argues that the socio-economic needs of desert settlements are to a large part overlooked, thus contributing to their failure to attract and retain large numbers of people. Discussion of this subject is structured into three parts, followed by the conclusion and recommendations. Part One uses extensive literature references to give a comprehensive background to the different features of desert settlements and their social, economic and environmental dimensions. Part Two covers the theoretical approach of sustaining the population growth of desert settlements, especially in peripheral areas. This part ends with a comparative analysis between three desert development experiences ; in Egypt, the USA and Israel. These first two parts are targeted to address the indicators of sustaining population growth. These investigations into the subject area support a view that it is not sufficient for governments only to use economic, employment and infrastructural means to attract people to desert settlements. These do not tackle the problem of public attitudes towards living in remote communities, nor do they provide settlements that are adaptive to the desert environment, which would invite settlers to remain and bring up their families there. These insights construct the analytical background to the field study in Part Three, which outlines the research techniques and the case study, field survey and questionnaire conducted with the assistance of residents of five chosen desert settlements in North Sinai. This analysis examines the attitudes among `local’ and `new comer’ households looking at their residential mobility, the relocation process, and the consequences of the community and prospects for the future. The findings lead to the conclusion that much of the deviation from achieving national and regional population dispersal policies can be explained through studying the socio-economic and socio-cultural dimensions of desert settlements. They highlight significant differences in values, motivations and interests of both `local’ and `newcomer’ households and explain that these forces should have a major influence in formulating and implementing effective population redistribution policies. Although the research limits itself to the context of the desert environment, the author suggest that its findings may offer valuable insights to other parts of the world, where national policies are seeking to counter the global problems of rural -urban migration.


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