Cairo’s Waste-Eating Pigs Make a Quiet Comeback

waste management in Cairo, Zabaleen, waste-eating pigs, Coptic Christians in Cairo, Garbage City, Egypt waste management, swine flu pig cullingIn 2009 during the height of the swine flu epidemic, Egyptian law officials ordered the culling of thousands of pigs belonging to the Coptic Christian community in Cairo. The pigs were used to chomp down the city’s organic waste, which grew to disgusting new heights in garbage city when they were killed. But now they’re back – in hiding.

Garbage city and the Zabaleen people, who turn mountains, literally mountains (or buildings) full of organic and inorganic waste into something useful has been something of a fascination for the outside world.

Teams of architects have envisioned a way to turn the teeming waste that accumulates in this corner of the city into an energy-generating powerhouse and a wonderful film was recently made to document how the Zabaleen work to recycle so much trash.

The Zabaleen have suffered since 2009. The pigs were essential to the work of consuming organic waste.

Plus, after the culling, thousands of butchers were left without work, according to VOA news, and there was no way to process the waste generated by Cairo’s 18 million residents.

The pigs were controversial – particularly in a Muslim country – but they were effective, and now there are a still a few pigs quietly doing their good work.

“Tucked behind mountains of trash and a wall of flies is a pen full of pigs – the ultimate in organic waste management – and they are making a small, clandestine comeback,” wrote Elizabeth Arrott.

But not everyone is willing to acknowledge they are there, as if drawing attention to them could provoke health officials to clamp down.

Adel Ragi, who is a member of the Garbage Collector’s Union, told the paper that foreign companies have been brought in to tackle Cairo’s phenomenal waste problem, but they just dump the waste on landfills. This is unhelpful – particularly for organic waste, which produces methane when improperly composted.

Christian farmers are trying to set up a new slaughterhouse in order to process the pigs, but they have experienced a delay from authorities.

A Coptic priest who lives above Garbage City calls the pushback a form of religious intolerance since Muslims don’t eat pork, which is perfectly acceptable among Christians.

:: VOA

Image of pigs near pigsty, Shutterstock

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4 thoughts on “Cairo’s Waste-Eating Pigs Make a Quiet Comeback”

  1. Amera says:

    how and why are pigs allowed to even touch the ground of holy people???????????????????
    get them out the country!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    pigs r the dirt of shaytaan and shud NOT b allowed on any religious soil so get them out our country and NEVA allow them back on

  2. Maurice says:

    The pigs serve a good enough purpose by eating the organic based garbage. What happens afterwards is up to their owners.

  3. layla says:

    christians may think its acceptable but God does not. so it seems. i think the pigs are good for use of garbage but not eat those pigs. but to each their own. 🙂 “8 And the pig, because it parts the hoof but does not chew the cud, is unclean for you. Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch.”

    Deuteronomy 14:1-29
    Clean and Unclean Food

    14 “You are the sons of the Lord your God. You shall not cut yourselves or make any baldness on your foreheads for the dead. 2 For you are a people holy to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

    3 “You shall not eat any abomination. 4 These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, 5 the deer, the gazelle, the roebuck, the wild goat, the ibex,[a] the antelope, and the mountain sheep. 6 Every animal that parts the hoof and has the hoof cloven in two and chews the cud, among the animals, you may eat. 7 Yet of those that chew the cud or have the hoof cloven you shall not eat these: the camel, the hare, and the rock badger, because they chew the cud but do not part the hoof, are unclean for you. 8 And the pig, because it parts the hoof but does not chew the cud, is unclean for you. Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch.

    9 “Of all that are in the waters you may eat these: whatever has fins and scales you may eat. 10 And whatever does not have fins and scales you shall not eat; it is unclean for you.

    11 “You may eat all clean birds. 12 But these are the ones that you shall not eat: the eagle,[b] the bearded vulture, the black vulture, 13 the kite, the falcon of any kind; 14 every raven of any kind; 15 the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind; 16 the little owl and the short-eared owl, the barn owl 17 and the tawny owl, the carrion vulture and the cormorant, 18 the stork, the heron of any kind; the hoopoe and the bat. 19 And all winged insects are unclean for you; they shall not be eaten. 20 All clean winged things you may eat.

    21 “You shall not eat anything that has died naturally. You may give it to the sojourner who is within your towns, that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner. For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.

    “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.

    1. I think if you are not Jewish or Muslim, it is okay to eat pork. It is your decision. According to Jewish belief, pork is only unclean for Jews. They have zero issues with other people eating it.

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