MAJDAL ANJAR, 27 July 2019 – The Municipality of Majdal Anjar, together with the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Environment, UNHCR, UNDP and Anera today inaugurated a non-organic waste sorting facility in Majdal Anjar as part of the Community-Based Solid Waste Management Project in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.
In light of the environmental and health conditions faced in Majdal Anjar due to the solid waste crisis in the region, and the increased strain on the local infrastructure with the presence of some 18,000 Syrian refugees in the town, solid waste management was selected as a priority area of intervention.
Minister of Social Affairs Richard Kouyoumjian stressed that “The waste problem is a national crisis and solving it is urgent as it is harmful to humans and the environment.” He pointed out that the approach of countries today towards the issue of waste and how to address it reflects the extent of their development. He added: "We will continue to seek increased support for this project because we are confident that the best means to support Lebanon to cope with the refugee crisis is by strengthening its infrastructure, creating jobs, and mobilizing the local economy, to help both Lebanese and displaced communities.”
In order to respond to this pressing need, the Ministries of Social Affairs and Environment joined forces with the Municipality of Majdal Anjar, UN and humanitarian agencies, and Lebanese and refugee communities to address this collective problem.
For his part, Minister of Environment Fady Jreissati said: “Today is a great example of the international community's support to refugee-hosting communities.
We need to deal with the waste issue boldly, and Unions of Municipalities and Governorates should coordinate efforts and work together on the issue of waste management. This cooperation will be fruitful on the long-run."
The community-based project tackles the waste management crisis by providing a comprehensive solid waste management system which includes sorting at-source, the distribution of household bins, and awareness sessions on the principles of sorting and solid waste management for both Lebanese and refugee communities. The project also provides support to the municipality by improving waste collection and transport to the sorting facility.
Majdal Anjar Mayor Said Yassine said: “Since the beginning of the crisis, refugees have constituted half of the population of Majdal Anjar. More than eight years later, the families multiplied and Lebanese families multiplied as well. This resulted in Majdal Anjar’s infrastructure carrying double its capacity, until it could no longer bear the burden and problems exploded on the environmental and social levels. The municipality of Majdal Anjar faced these issues with the help of the international community. Despite the burden caused by displacement, no tensions or disputes of a discriminatory nature have been recorded in Majdal Anjar”.
Yassine thanked the donors and partners for the support they have provided for the project and for establishing and equipping the non-organic waste sorting facility.
The project included the construction and equipment of a brand new solid waste sorting facility in which all collected recyclable household waste will be sorted. This will in turn decrease overall waste produced by the communities living in Majdal Anjar, and will pave the way for a more environmentally-friendly town.
“UNHCR is fully aware of the impact that hosting so many refugees had on a small country like Lebanon”, said UNHCR Deputy Representative Emmanuel Gignac. “UNHCR and partners are working as hard as they can to reduce the strain on Lebanese host communities and infrastructure. This joint solid waste management project is a good illustration of UNHCR and the international community’s commitment to supporting Lebanese government institutions and local authorities”, he added.
UNDP Resident Representative Celine Moyroud said: “We work with municipalities to identify their most pressing needs and find sustainable solutions to the issues they face, including solid waste management. This initiative in Majdal Anjar focuses on non-organic sorting and goes beyond infrastructure to include a set of interventions that raise awareness on sorting at source, and capacity building of the municipality and the community.
The design phase of this project began in 2017, and the construction of the facility started in late 2018. Over 39,000 individuals will benefit from this project, including 21,000 Lebanese and 18,000 Syrian refugees.
“For us, this project is an integral component in a comprehensive program in which we develop the capacities of local authorities, involve both the host and refugee communities, create job opportunities and increase awareness on sorting from the source at home and in schools and businesses. We are aware that waste management is one of our country’s most crucial concerns and it is our duty as development practitioners to address the environmental and health risk factors, for our sake, and that of our children’s”, said Samar El Yassir, Anera Country Director.