Reconciliation regarding building violations … How has the “state’s right” affected Mahmoud’s marriage?

Country/area: Egypt

Organisation: masrawy.com

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 24 Sep 2020

Credit: masrawy.com

Project description:

With the change of the regime in Egypt and the fight against random construction, large taxes were imposed on everyone who built randomly … despite this being allowed for 30 years.

In this data-driven story, we show the relationship between the total value of the Reconciliation Tax in all Egyptian governorates, with the average income of a citizen in these governorates … and how the tax value at times doubles the average annual per capita income over a year, even if the tax is divided into three years.



Impact reached:

Over the past years, citizens of Egypt have been engaged in building houses randomly … with the knowledge of the state, for more than 30 years.

With the change of the regime in Egypt and the fight against random construction, large taxes were imposed on everyone who built randomly … despite this being allowed for 30 years.

There is no objection to the principle of reconciliation, but the objection is the sums imposed on the Egyptians, which are not commensurate with their total income.

This data-driven story revealed how the value of reconciliation imposed on citizens doubles their average income in a full year, even if it is paid in installments over three years – as the government permits.

This prompted the government to almost exempt residents of poor villages – or to symbolically pay the value of reconciliation – and to reduce the value of reconciliation in all governorates of Egypt.

Techniques/technologies used:

Initially, I used tools to scrape data from images and pdf, Google Docs, and Tabula.

Microsoft used Excel and Google Sheets to collect, clean, and analyze data.

I used the Flourish app to design interactive charts.

I chose the charts based on the answer I want to get out of the data.

Vertical parallel chart for comparison of minimum and maximum reduction.

Bubbles, to compare the most regions and governorates that have requested payment.

The vertical chart to compare the value of reconciliation – per meter – in all governorates, and use the filter in an easy way to move between all types.

We calculated the value of reconciliation if the citizen has a property of 100 meters in all governorates, and we compared it with the average annual income of the citizen in all governorates.

And then calculate the ratio of the tax value to the average annual per capita income, through the integrated columns.

And we humanized the story, with the true story of an Egyptian young man who set aside for years to buy an apartment, and postponed his marriage in order to pay for reconciliation.

What was the hardest part of this project?

The project relied entirely on data, its comparison, and its analysis.

The data was not easily available, complete or clean.

While collecting and scraping data from more than one reliable government source, I cleaned and analyzed it.

This topic is very thorny in Egypt, and it is considered within the red lines, and that was the only story that was able to criticize the reconciliation tax on building violations, through open government data, by revealing the relationship between the value of reconciliation imposed by the government and the average actual entry of Egyptians.

This was better, of course, and safer than criticism sent, which could lead to arrest.

And of course, it’s data journalism skills that take credit.


What can others learn from this project?

You can routes forbidden areas via open and available data.

You can prove the unproven by analyzing the data.

In order to become a data journalist, you must possess some technical skills that will facilitate your work.

Project links: