The study explores the Zabaleen’s contested geography and spatial strategies in relation to their right to inner city areas and future relocation to Cairo’s suburban new settlements . Over the decades, the Zabaleen waste (garbage) collectors of Cairo, have created what is arguably one of the world’s most efficient and sustainable resource-recovery and waste-recycling systems. Yet the continuation of this intricate relationship between community, environment and livelihood is jeopardised by the official privatisation of solid waste services through contracts with technology-intensive multinational corporations which threatens the sustainability of the garbage collectors communities. This situation was aggravated by recent official measures during the swine flu pandemic, which were mainly directed towards the Zabaleen’s pigs rearing and waste recycling economy. In addition the authorities plan to move the Zabaleen activities further out of the city, claiming that this will turn their neighbourhoods into cleaner living environments.