Category Archives: Middle East & North Africa

Stunning Mural In Cairo’s ‘Garbage City’ Stretches Across 50 Buildings

Stunning Mural In Cairo’s ‘Garbage City’ Stretches Across 50 Buildings | Source: Huffington Post, Mar 15, 2016 |

In Egypt’s Garbage City, global street artist eL Seed is honoring the people who help keep Cairo clean. egypt

Nestled in Cairo’s Manshiyat Naser neighborhood sits Garbage City, the crassly nicknamed settlement which houses the Coptic community known as the Zabaleen.

For decades, the Zabaleen have worked as unofficial sanitation experts, privately traveling door to door to collect the capital’s trash, return to their homes to sort through it and identify the salvaged materials that could be sold to factories and wholesalers. Most organic waste would be fed to the community’s pigs.

Informally, the Zabaleen developed one of the most efficient, cost-effective recycling systems in the region. According to The Guardian, they collect around 9,000 tons of garbage per day, which amounts to nearly two-thirds of the trash thrown away by Cairo’s inhabitants. On top of that, Laila Iskander, Egypt’s Minister of State for Environment Affairs, estimates the mini city boasts a recycling capacity of nearly 100 percent.

Despite the Zabaleen’s efforts, their quarter of Cairo is often viewed as nothing more than its nickname. “The place is perceived as dirty, marginalized and segregated,” street artist eL Seed wrote on his Facebook page this week. “In my new project ‘Perception,’ I am questioning the level of judgment and misconception society can unconsciously have upon a community based on their differences.”

Read the complete article.

World Bank-Waste Management Key to Regaining Public Trust in the Arab World

Waste Management Key to Regaining Public Trust in the Arab World | Source: World Bank, Mar 14, 2016 |

The municipal management of household garbage or solid waste is one of the simplest, most common signs of a working relationship between the state and its citizens. Lebanon’s recent problem—of municipalities leaving garbage to pile up uncollected—has caused public outcry and public demonstrations. It is an example of a failed social contract between the state and its citizens.

solid_waste_mena

Zouzou l Shutterstock.com

It is, as one local youth put it, not just about services: “The root cause of the waste crisis in Lebanon is not technical but political. There is no political will to solve the problem—from one side mainly because of the failure of state institutions and a deadlock in decision making within the cabinet; and from the other, because multiple political actors with vested interests have been blocking any solution”.

This piece examines three countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region—Morocco, Palestine, and Saudi Arabia—each of which have had a unique journey, both in the way they have learned to manage solid waste and in how this has translated into an important part of the relationship that has evolved between their citizens, local authorities, and national governments.

In Morocco, the reform of the solid waste sector has taken place over the past decade, with its emphasis on public partnership with the private sector and on improving the environment and lives of vulnerable groups of people who make money from picking through household garbage. Before the reform program began, solid waste sites in Morocco were poorly managed. Rivers laced with toxic effluent commonly flowed through towns and into the Atlantic. “Waste-pickers”—the men and women, adults and children trying to make a living from what other people were throwing out—often competed to collect valuable scraps of rubbish from unregulated dump sites without any protection.

Read the complete article.

Now available on WSUP-website for free download: masters-level professional training module “Water and Sanitation for Urban Low-Income Communities”

WSUP/WEDC have developed a teaching resource on urban WASH that is now available online for free, It aims at helping the urban WASH sector to professionalize. We hope it will be helpful for academics and practitioners to use or adapt if they feel it can be of value to them.

In short: this is a masters-level professional training module called “Water and Sanitation for Urban Low-Income Communities”. It was primarily designed to give engineering masters students in low-income countries an overview of things they need to know in order to apply their technical skills in low-income communities, and that’s how WSUP and WEDC are currently using it, in partnership with universities in Africa and Asia. But of course it may be adaptable to other teaching contexts.

It’s designed for classroom delivery, over about 45 hours of contact time. It’s made up of 16 thematic units, and within each unit the materials essentially comprise a Powerpoint presentation plus Lecturer Notes outlining the unit’s aims and content, and providing guidance on how to deliver the class. Some units are flexible in content, to enable adaptation to local contexts.

It can be delivered as an off-the shelf package; or you might want to cut-and-paste parts of it into your own materials; or you might simply use it as guidance in developing other materials.

It’s absolutely free to download, but we do ask that you fill in a brief Use Request Form explaining who you are and how you might use it: evidently, it’s useful for us to be able to communicate this to the funder of the work (DFID).

See www.wsup.com/programme/resources/

For information, we expect to have a French-language version available within the next few months.

The module was developed by (alphabetical order): Louise Medland, Guy Norman, Brian Reed, Pippa Scott, Regine Skarubowiz, and Ian Smout; inputs also came from Richard Franceys and Valentina Zuin.

Treat your sanitation workers well

There are two contrasting stories this week on the treatment of sanitation workers: in China a local restaurant treats 180 of them to a free lunch, while in Gaza they go on strike after having received no pay for over six months.

More than 180 sanitation workers in Chengdu, Sichuan province enjoyed a free lunch courtesy of a local hotpot restaurant.

More than 180 sanitation workers in Chengdu, Sichuan province enjoyed a free lunch courtesy of a local hotpot restaurant. Photo: weibo.com

Sanitation workers in China get low pay, have poor working conditions and work long hours. Mr. Li, a restaurant owner in Chengdu, decided it was time to show some appreciation for their hard work, especially now as temperatures were dropping. He offered over 180 local sanitation workers a free lunch; they were “encouraged to order whatever they wanted, including alcohol”, writes Dina Li in the Shanghaiist.

The free lunch was also a compensation for the mess created when Mr Li opened his new restaurant and employees distributed more than 100,000 leaflets, most of which ended up on the streets for sanitation workers to clean up.

Waste piles up in Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza Strip, as a result of strike by sanitation workers.

Waste piles up in Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza Strip, as a result of strike by sanitation workers. Photo: Mohammad Asad, MEMO

How differently sanitation workers are treated in the Gaza Strip. Since the formation of the Palestinian unity government in June 2014, they have not received any pay. This has spurred a strike with severe consequences for the health care system. The accumulation of large piles of waste and garbage has forced the Al-Shifa Hospital to stop all work in their operation and emergency rooms.

Deputy Minister of Health, Yusuf Abu Al-Reesh warned of dangerous health conditions inside the hospitals and medical centres in Gaza since staff from the private sanitation companies went on strike.

Source:

  • Dina Li, Chengdu hotpot restaurant treats over 180 sanitation workers to free lunch, Shanghaiist, 5 Dec 2014
  • Gaza sanitation workers’ strike stalls hospital operations, Middle East Monitor, 4 Dec 2014

My toilet: global stories from women and girls

You are invited to view an exciting new exhibition by WSUP, launched to mark World Toilet Day.

My Toilet documents women and girls and their toilets to build a visual representation of the day to day reality and the effect this has on their lives, both positive and negative.

Keyla, 4, by her toilet in Bolivar, Ecuador. Photography Karla Gachet. Panos Pictures for WSUP.

Keyla, 4, by her toilet in Bolivar, Ecuador. Photo: Karla Gachet, Panos Pictures for WSUP.

The images and stories show that, although the type of toilet changes from country to country, the impacts have recurring themes. Having can mean a better chance of education, employment, dignity, safety, status and more. Wherever you are in the world, a toilet equals far more than just a toilet.

Get involved on social media!
Help spread this message by sharing a picture of yourself holding up a sign with the hashtag #ToiletEquals followed by a word, or a few words, to describe what having a toilet equals for you and for millions of others around the world. All the tweets and pictures will be shown on the My Toilet website.

Visit the exhibition!
Images from 20 countries, spanning every continent, will be exhibited at The Royal Opera Arcade Gallery, London SW1Y 4UY. The gallery is open to the public from 17 – 22 November 2014, 10am – 5pm daily. Entry is free. We hope to see you there!

Deprived of water and sanitation in Gaza

We don’t want another catastrophe besides the one we already have. Fatma (43) mother of 9 children

Since the start of the Israeli assault on Gaza on 7 July 2014, codenamed “Protective Edge”, the water and wastewater infrastructure in Gaza has been heavily affected by Israeli airstrikes and shelling.

Main water supply and wastewater as well as electricity infrastructure has been hit. As a result services have been cut or severely disrupted, affecting the entire population in Gaza.

Up to 25 per cent of Gaza’s population were displaced. The 1.8 million people in Gaza, living in homes and shelters have extremely restricted access to water and sanitation.

Fatma, 45, was displaced with her family and sought shelter at a school in Ash Shuja’iyeh. She speaks in a Thirsting for Justice campaign video about the problems with water, sanitation and hygiene that her family faces amongst the many other displaced.

Photo: EWASH

Thirsting for Justice is an initiative of EWASH, the Emergency Water Sanitation and Hygiene group in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Waste not: Egypt’s refuse collectors regain role at heart of Cairo society

Waste not: Egypt’s refuse collectors regain role at heart of Cairo society | Source/complete article: The Guardian, March 27 2014 |

Excerpts – Zabaleen waste pickers are finally being re-integrated into the city’s services, a decade after they were sidelined.

A family at work in the Mokattam area of the Egyptian capital Cairo, where zabaleen collect, separate, sell or reuse rubbish. Photograph: Bernat Armangue/AP

A family at work in the Mokattam area of the Egyptian capital Cairo, where zabaleen collect, separate, sell or reuse rubbish. Photograph: Bernat Armangue/AP

For the waste pickers that have traditionally made a living sifting through the mountain of discarded litter that blights the streets of Cairo, there has been scant cause for celebration these past 10 years. Marginalised by a 2004 Mubarak goverment directive that placed household waste collection in the hands of multinationals, their existence has been one of ever increasing struggle for steadily declining return.

But change is afoot. Government acceptance that the corporatisation of waste disposal in Egypt‘s capital has been a resounding failure has paved the way for the formal integration of the zabaleen – who, for more than half a century, went door to door gathering the vast majority of household waste in Cairo – into the city’s official refuse collection system.

For a community that has served Cairo well, the government’s U-turn offers a deserved chance to change their lives for the better. Before 2004, the zabaleen would take the rubbish they collected back to their homes on the edge of the city, sort through it, and make a living from selling the salvaged materials to factories and wholesalers. The remaining organic waste would be fed to their pigs, whose meat also brought them a steady income.

But 10 years ago, this informal arrangement came to an abrupt end when the Mubarak government contracted four corporate firms to do the work instead – cutting the 65,000 zabaleen out of the process, and wrecking their collective livelihood. The aim was to professionalise the capital’s waste management.

Government officials now admit that approach was flawed from the start, and for the first time are starting to make the zabaleen‘s role official, giving them uniforms and vehicles.

“The others have failed, be they the government or the foreign companies, and now [the zabaleen] should get a turn, having been sidelined for so long,” said Laila Iskandar, Egypt’s environment minister, who has prioritised the issue since her appointment in July. “They are the people who have the longest experience in refuse collection.”