Waste

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Waste is an unavoidable peril of the world and with varying opinions on how to manage it there are often cross-management issues along with the danger of waste in itself. Solid waste disposal is a serious issue in the Gaza Strip due to thirty years of military occupation of the region. The lack of social development and legislation caused by the long stint of military occupation lead to insufficient waste collection programs in the Gaza Strip. When the Palestinian National Authority was established in 1994 some changes were made in waste management though solid waste still remains a matter of serious concern.

With a population of approximately 1.75 million consistently generating about 1300 tons of solid waste per day, waste poses a huge threat. The majority of solid waste is produced domestically, containing not only household waste, but also industrial and hazardous materials.  Not only is the massive amount of waste an issue, but also for years the Israeli Occupational Forces have had a continuing blockade and Israeli’s deliberate damage to Gaza’s sewage infrastructure. [1. Zafar, Salman. “Waste Management in Gaza Strip.” EcoMENA. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2014.]

With the increase in population, Gaza’s damaged sewage systems are unable to handle the quantity of sewage of the people along with the sewage from the wastewater treatment plant. The stations sometimes overflow in residential areas causing an increase likelihood of disease and environmental disasters.

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Contaminated sewage from the Gaza Strip leaking into the Mediterranean shores, EcoMENA, 2012.

There are three legal landfills in the Gaza Strip and many illegal dumpsites. Unfortunately, these illegal sites lack the infrastructure and safety precautions, leading to more hazardous waste and a higher threat to human health, while the three legal sites lack to provide sufficient space for waste disposal. On top of that, waste is often dumped near cities or unregulated and burned causing soil, water, and air-born toxins. [2. El Baba, Moustafa Y., and Florimond De Smedt. “Solid Waste Management and Practices in Gaza Strip (Palestine).” American Society of Civil Engineers. N.p., n.d. Web.]  In order to regulate this, the Gaza Strip is in need of more regulation and advancements in the technology of waste management. But with many refugee camps and constant threat of Israeli Occupational Forces, new technology is unaffordable.

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A Palestinian woman collecting recyclable goods at a dump located in Rafah, The Electronic Intifada,  January 2013.

In the Gaza Strip, much of the population is taken care of by a short-term collection system. In many areas waste is collected either in a door-to-door manner or with large communal containers. Recently the burning of solid waste has again become a popular occurrence. The burning of waste without proper precautions imposes severe health risks for those living nearby. People attempt to rid the area of the terrible smell of waste and deal with lack of disposal space by burning it.

The environmental threat of solid waste management has increased with population growth and has caused higher disease rates as bugs reproduce in the waste and transmit diseases to the people. Fortunately, a Palestinian plant was recently established in southern Gaza that has succeeded in recycling solid waste. An automatic sorting systems separates the organic waste from the non-organic waste and then sends the non-reusable waste to the dump in order to recycle the rest. While this plant lacks some equipment and much funding [3. “Recycling Gaza’s Waste – Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East.” Al-Monitor. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2014.] , it is still lends an eye of hope for the deadly issue of waste in the Gaza Strip. (By: Mara Beebe)