Cleaning up the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon: an important first step

29 noviembre 2016

Work has started on removing the 20 meter high waste dump in the Lebanese town of Ghazze. The entire dump site, encompassing the buildup of years of the uncontrolled dumping of waste, will be transferred to a so-called insulated safe cell, through support of VNG International and other partners. 

Once finished, the hundreds of Syrian refugees in its immediate vicinity will no longer face the toxic leakages seeping into the ground water and the nearby river, as well as the vermin harassing them at night in great numbers.
The town of Ghazze, nearby the Syrian border in the Beqaa valley, is one of the most affected towns of the Syrian refugee crisis. There are an estimated 15.000-20.000 refugees, vastly outnumbering the roughly 10.000 Lebanese inhabitants. The poorest of the Syrian refugees settled around the Ghazze dump site, the only place where they could find shelter undisturbed.
Since the arrival of the refugees, the municipal board has been overloaded with a number of service delivery problems, not in the last place waste disposal. The Ghazze dump site quickly grew to a 20 meter high mountain of waste, with an ever-growing refugee population right beside it. Toxins, both in the air and in the ground spread, causing alarming health risks for refugees and Lebanese alike.
Through support of the Netherlands and the Local Government Resilience Programme (LOGOReP), VNG International together with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and the municipality of Ghazze, the mountain of waste is now knocked down and transferred to a controlled landfilling site. There, the waste will be lined and covered and insulated from its surrounding environment.
To reduce to inflow of new waste into the dump site, experts from the Dutch municipalities of Almere and The Hague work together with the Ghazze community to start composting and recycling-at-the-home schemes. Recycling-at-the-home has the best potential to drastically and structurally cut the amount of untreatable waste and generate income for municipalities from the sale of recyclable materials, such as plastics, papers and metals.
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