Fayyad Ayash and his family were all set to leave their home country Lebanon and shift to Syria. They told the reporters that they have packed their bags and ready to take a chance on their lives in a war hit country. Well, they chose to take the risk because they couldn’t cope with the rising stink and health risk from their country’s waste management crisis.
Lebanon, a country set on the southern side of Turkey and home to around 5.6 million people is turning into death bowl due to spurious techniques of waste management. This situation would have been avoided if the waste was segregated at the source and given to the appropriate recyclers in the country.
Photo Source: AP
How the waste is endangering the lives in Lebanon
Fayyad’s family says that the infamous and offensive odour from the Naameh landfill site is causing harm to their lives. It is estimated that prior to the waste crisis, Naameh landfill use to experience 2,000 to 3,000 tonnes of waste dumping per day. While as per the current statistics the dumping rate has tripled; 8,000 to 9,000 tonnes waste per day. Fayyad’s wife Riham states that their four daughters are unable to consume food and sleep properly due to filthy scent. The couple was forced to spend about $1,000 per month to visit doctor and purchase medication for their daughters.
The beginning of waste trails
Lebanon generates about 2 Million tonnes of waste every year. About 50% of the waste generated is organic. Due to the lack of segregation practices this waste is contaminated with heavy metals and other hazardous substances. From 1995 to 2015, Lebanon had spent more than 2 billion USD on waste management.
Photo Source: AP Photo/Bilal Hussein (The Associate Press)
The majority of this amount was paid to two private companies; Sukleen and Sukomi. The activities of cleaning, collection, segregation and recycling were equally distributed to these companies. In spite of allotted work and heavy amount paid by the government, these companies did very less amount of recycling and large amount of dumping.
Rising of trash
The rising waste management issues in Lebanon is the result of loose decision by government and unawareness of waste among the people. Both the private companies were saving their own pockets without recycling the waste. This is where the people and government failed to keep the track of their work and gave a welcome to the waste. As the private companies rarely recycled the waste, many of the land-filling sites were reaching their capacity.
Photo Source: Mohamed Azakir/Reuters
This issue created havoc around the country. On 17th July 2015, the last land-filling site named Al Nameeh exceeded its capacity. And this was the beginning of uprising danger. Today, the streets of Lebanon are flooded with waste due to unavailability of dumping site. The issues would have been resolved if both the government and people would have kept a proper track of recycling work of private companies. While the awareness of segregation and management techniques among the people would have saved the country from turning itself into a trash site.
Photo Source: AP
In 2015, the protest organized by an online group “You Stink” attracted around 20,000 Lebanese in the central Beirut. The citizens of Lebanon have expressed anger by protesting the rising trash on the roads. Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon is also badly affected and people living there are compelled to wear masks to avoid the rubbish smell. The protestors are demanding the resignation of government for worsening the waste issues and failing the political system of the country. Many citizens are blaming government for not having a long-term vision for waste management. But it is also equally important to consider the fact that if the people of Lebanon had taken the initiative of Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling the waste then the picture would have been different.
A lesson to learn
The progress of mankind has always devastated the nature. India, a country which is a home to more than 1 billion people generates more than 47 million tonnes of waste every year. It is time that we should start taking right action to manage the waste. Segregation of waste at source, proper collection, transport, and recycling are the important steps to be followed. Punekars, let’s take a leap of faith to reincarnate our surroundings by segregating waste at source.
Check out the Video Done by Al Jazeera on the waste crisis of Lebanon.