Basata supports social development and ecotourism in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
Focus: Ecotourism, Environment, Waste Management
Geographic Area of Impact: Egypt, South Sinai
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 65,000 (2010)
Annual Budget: US$ 500,000 (2010)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 25%
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Egypt, 2008
Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Gulf of Aqaba are particularly vulnerable regions, where the consequences of massive tourism in Sharm El Sheikh and Dahab have had a dramatic impact on both land and sea. From overflowing landfills, hazardous disposal of trash or dumping into the sea, little attention has been paid to waste management and environmental protection. Once these lands were almost solely inhabited by about 15,000 Bedouins, who are now completely omitted from any tourism plans by developers; yet they suffer from the impacts, such as loss of livestock to disease from rubbish dumps.
Innovation and Activities
Sherif El Ghamrawy has fought relentlessly for the sustainability and conservation of Egypt’s natural resources. He is the founder of Basata, Egypt’s first ecolodge, located on the Red Sea just north of Nuweiba on the Sinai Peninsula. The basic premise of Basata is respect for the environment through cultural diversity and communication.
As commercial development along the Red Sea coastline progressed, so did the need for sensible waste management as well as social and environmental protection. As a result, El Ghamrawy established Hemaya, a local NGO whose purpose is to monitor, regulate and provide awareness of safe waste disposal procedures for the lodge and area.
Hemaya collects the waste of approximately 60,000 people from hotels and camps, households and city streets in the towns of Taba, Nuweiba and Dahab. The collected waste is then sorted: organic material is distributed among the Bedouins as cattle feed, and non-organic waste is packed, shredded or pressed and sent to Cairo for recycling. Only 15% of the collected waste goes to landfills. Half of the income generated from the sale of the recycled waste is distributed among the workers.
Hemaya has expanded its community involvement by providing services related to education and healthcare. In addition, Hemaya campaigns to stop the construction of a 750 MW power plant in Nuweiba, which poses a threat to the environment and local community. In conjunction with local authorities Hemaya has hired local Bedouins as rangers to protect the coral reef and to prevent illegal fishing.
Sherif El Ghamrawy was born in Giza, Egypt, and attended the German School of Cairo. He graduated from Cairo University with a degree in civil engineering, but his passion for the environment and conserving Egypt’s natural resources led him to create Basata Ecolodge and Hemaya. He has also worked tirelessly to prevent the construction of a power plant in Nuweiba, which could destroy the natural beauty of the region. El Ghamrawy has received numerous awards for promoting ecotourism and waste management programmes, including the World Travel Market Award for best project in the marine environment. He is also an Ashoka Fellow.
Sherif El Ghamrawy