Municipalities in Jordan and Turkey look to Palestinian example of waste disposal
February 22, 2017
Turkish and Jordanian municipalities hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees rate safe garbage disposal their most pressing priority.
A state-of-the-art landfill in the West Bank provides a new regional example of sanitary garbage disposal.
Mayors from Jordan and Turkey say contact with their Palestinian peers showed them ways to manage the impact of population on public services.
It is 9:30 pm on Tuesday 25 October, 2016. A bus stops in front of a hotel in Jerusalem. Mayors from the Jordanian municipalities of Mafraq, Sarhan, Hosha, and Rabiet Al-Kura step off it, along with 17 of their peers. They are under some pressure because, at the end of their two-day visit, they have to leave by 8pm, when the bridge at the Jordanian–Israel border closes. Most of them are coming to Palestine for the first time, and are to be joined by four Turkish officials who share the same interests and concerns.
Since the Syrian crisis began almost six years ago, these 25 Jordanian and Turkish mayors have faced a similar challenge: how to manage the impact of Syrian refugees on their municipalities? In host municipalities, population increase has had a huge impact on infrastructure and the delivery of public services. Mayors from Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Turkey have had to set out their priorities in terms of waste management, housing, and social cohesion.
Among these, the disposal of ordinary household garbage or solid waste is the most acute issue; if not done properly, it has a negative effect on people’s wellbeing, as well as on economic activities and environment. But waste management is very costly, and often delivered by municipalities with very limited financial resources.
Mayors in Jordan and Turkey wanted to find out what they could do. Now, on this October evening, they were all set to hear how Bethlehem and Hebron governorates had gone about disposing of solid waste, particularly within the fragile political context in which they operate
Palestinian experience in disposing of household garbage
A field visit to Al-Minya landfill showed how garbage can be disposed of safely. Al-Minya is an old landfill, now rehabilitated with support from the World Bank Group and run as a Public Private Partnership. Sanitary and modern, it has two waystations for waste transfer. These serve all the local authorities in the Southern West Bank, an area with a population of 800,000.
The most important thing about the project is that it controls the amount of pollution emanating from random, unsanitary dump sites spread across both governorates, and by doing so improves the environment and creates a sustainable system for managing solid waste.
Organized by the World Bank Group and the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI), the two-day visit included a workshop in Bethlehem with about 80 Palestinian mayors. Other municipal representatives from Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan participated remotely.
Ibrahim Dajani, the Bank’s leader on the project, said he hoped the visiting mayors would be inspired to provide a cleaner, better quality of life back home.
Networking to help municipalities facing the same issues
“We didn’t expect to see a state-of-the-art dumpsite here in Palestine,” said Osman Senaydin from Turkey.
The project provided lessons about overcoming obstacles encountered along the path to its success, as well as about recycling waste for revenue, and the recovery of gases for generating electricity.
Much of the emphasis, though, is on continued networking. “The municipalities tell us their needs and, in an online forum, we will continue to help them address the most critical issues caused in their communities by refugee influxes,” said Janette Uhlmann, Senior Program Officer at the CM. “We see this network as a valuable resource to exchange useful information across cities and countries in the region.”
It is now 4:30 pm in Bethlehem on Thursday 27 October. The Jordanian mayors step back onto their bus in a hurry: they have to get back to the bridge by 8 pm. But, later, they will have plenty of time to reflect, and to exchange views on what they have learned. They will also prepare for another peer-to-peer meeting in Sanliurfa, Turkey, where the topic will be the next issue on their list, that of social cohesion in municipalities hosting refugees.