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.
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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.