For years, Lebanon’s trash has been burned in open dumps, with dangerous environmental and health effects. 

JOSEPH EID/AFP via Getty Images
This picture taken on Aug. 6, 2019, shows a view of sewage water running along a canal in Beirut, the Lebanese capital. – JOSEPH EID/AFP via G

Beatrice Farhat. August 22, 2023

BEIRUT — Lebanon’s government approved a new waste management project Tuesday as part of efforts to regulate the solid waste sector.

The project was announced during a workshop organized by the Ministry of Environment. Representatives from the Interior Ministry, local municipalities and international organizations were in attendance, according to the official National News Agency.

The project will be implemented over the next four years in the Akkar, South and Nabatieh governorates to reduce pollution from the uncontrolled burning of solid waste in these areas.  

In December last year, the World Bank announced a $8.86 million grant from the Global Environment Facility for the project in Lebanon.

Open dumps have proliferated across the country since a major waste crisis erupted in 2015. The crisis began when the Naameh landfill in the Chuf region, in Mount Lebanon governorate, closed that July under pressure from the area’s residents, who complained about the landfill’s environmental and health effects.

The Naameh landfill first opened in 1997 as a temporary site for the collection of garbage from Beirut and Mount Lebanon. But 18 years later, the landfill had largely exceeded its intended capacity of 3 million tons at more than 15 million tons of solid waste.

Despite the government knowing months beforehand about the impending closure of the Naameh landfill, it did not have any alternative. As a result, trash began piling up in the streets. With nowhere to store waste, collectors would dump the garbage under bridges and in vacant areas across Beirut and Mount Lebanon. Images of mountains of trash and rivers of garbage infuriated the population and prompted anti-government protests accusing the country’s ruling elite of corruption and mismanagement.

Since then, the government as well as international groups have suggested several waste management plans, but political bickering has prevented their implementation. Years later, garbage dumping and trash burning continues to plague the country.

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