Nov 09, 2020
On 19 October 2020, the municipality of Arsal hosted a public hearing on the environmental impact assessment of a pilot solid waste management project.
The solid waste management project in the town of Arsal is implemented through a partnership between the International Orthodox Christian Charities – (IOCC) and VNG International and financed by the European Union through the MASAR project. This pilot project will take place in a representative area of 10,000 inhabitants encompassing residential units, shops, a school and a Syrian refugees camp. The aim of this project is to encourage citizens to separate their waste at source while equipping the municipality with necessary tools and operational capabilities to manage the process. IOCC agreed with the municipality to construct a Solid Waste Management treatment centre and provide the equipment. Besides being ideally located far enough from the residential area, the location of the treatment centre will allow for further expansion. VNG International caters for the awareness campaign activities including production of materials such as brochures, posters and stickers. VNG International will also organize door-to-door visits, ; training of trainers, , school activities, and assisting Arsal municipality in optimizing its collection routes and with the procurement of bins.
An Environmental Impact Assessment of the solid waste treatment centre as required by the Ministry of Environment also needs to undergo a a public hearing before the construction is granted approval. The objective of this public hearing was to present the technicalities of integrated solid waste management project and respond to any questions from citizens, civil society organisations and municipal council members. This Environmental Impact Assessment was done by EDESSA, a company licensed by the Ministry of Environment for doing such assessments.
A lively discussion followed the presentation by EDESSA whereby participants asked questions regarding the location of the waste treatment centre, the sanitary landfill, sustainability aspects and recycling methods. Questions were answered by EDESSA , IOCC and VNG International.
- Population is in favour of the project.
- Praise by participants for the project partners for their all-inclusive, bottom-up approach.
- Population is looking forward to improved solid waste practices and new job openings.
- Alternatives to the project include sending the waste away to Baalbek treatment facility, which will bring extra costs on the municipality of Arsal but may open doors for a municipal partnership between Arsal and Baalbeck – Not a favoured outcome in terms of economics but a good one for cooperation.
- Technical know-how regarding the sanitary landfill.
The Environmental Assessment covers the technical aspects of integrated solid waste management i.e. the waste treatment centre, the machinery, composting and sanitary landfill. It has no consequences on any awareness or capacity development activities . Thus irrespective of the assessment and public hearing outcome and the decision of the Ministry of Environment, VNG International will implement the MASAR activities on solid waste reduction and collection.
Mayor of Arsal Mr. Bassel Houjairy (standing in the middle): ‘This project is important for Arsal. It will have a big impact on our lives as it creates a better environment. Moreover, we will all benefit as citizens from sorting-at-the-source and the painful picture of our burning mountain of waste will be a distant memory’
Hind Houjairy, social activist and citizen of Arsal: ‘As a social activist, I find it key that such projects put responsibility on citizens. By separating our waste at source and intervening in school activities, we are nurturing a sense of responsibility and eco-awareness in our society.’
22 Citizens attending the public hearing