Children's motility in an informal settlement in Cairo and parental influence: ‎implications for de-motorization

Ahmed El-Dorghamy, Ahmed Ibrahem Mosa, Barbara Lenz


This paper investigates actual and potential mobility of children as enabled by themselves and their parents in a case study of one informal settlement in Cairo called Ezbet El-Haggana. Results aim to contribute to the discussion about possibilities for such settlements to avoid the typical trajectory of increased car-dependence observed in other parts of Cairo as with global trends. It is  based on five Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with children and four FGDs with mothers, together with field observations. A philosophical approach based on
Vincent Kaufmann’s notion of motility (potentiality of mobility) was employed to elucidate subjective factors influencing mobility. Based on results, the study argues that an informal settlement can contain not only physical prerequisites, but also behavioral and socio-cultural prerequisites that may facilitate a direct transition (leapfrogging) to a future of sustainable mobility and associated behavior and norms. An observed ingenuity, behavioral adaptation, and various means of compensation for resource scarcity enable both parents and children to exhibit travel behavior that is coincidentally sustainable and resilient, thereby positioning the inhabitants to better adapt to introduced sustainable transport interventions. Findings led to a conceptualization of a framework for analysis based on motility, which is expanded to account for the dynamics of  motility enhancement found in the case study, where aspects of one’s skills, access,  and appropriation are altered to mutually compensate for each other to maintain motility, or otherwise exhibit deficiencies that can be identified and  addressed.


Motility, Children's Independent Mobility (CIM), Cairo, Informal Settlements.‎

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