People and Pollution: Cultural Constructions and Social Action in Egypt by Nicholas Hopkins, Sohair Mehanna and Salah el-Hagger
With a population approaching 65 million (15 million in Cairo alone), environmental pollution is a concern of many people in Egypt and the world in general. People and Pollution is a study of how Egyptians in particular understand environmental problems and what their roles are in the solutions. This original study is based on extensive field research with both academic and policy relevance. The uniqueness of the book comes from its focus: instead of the usual approach of analyzing policy and measurements, this highly readable text seeks to understand how the people themselves, often the objects of policy, understand their environment and their own actions.
An interesting finding from the research lies in the focus of Egyptian concerns. Rather than the global perspective (the depletion of the ozone layer, protection of coral reefs and rainforests, and so on) that is common in the West, Egyptians are mainly concerned with matters of immediate environmental degradation, such as gargage, sewage, dirty streets, and noise pollution. In addition, the researchers have found that people are often able to effect changes themselves through cooperation with neighbors, thus bypassing the 'official' channels of redress such as NGOs and local government officials. The difference in focus of concern and courses of action may be extrapolated to many Third World or developing nations, and leads to provocative questions regarding policymaking for public participation in future environmental campaigns.
People and Pollution is a pioneering and important work that should be consulted by environmentally concerned readers, students, and policymakers alike.