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EU to fund Lebanon new waste projects

Lebanon and the European Union have launched two programs to support and strengthen Lebanese municipalities manage solid waste, a partnership expected to directly affect at least 2 million people from 280 municipalities across the country

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Lebanon and the European Union have launched two programs to support and strengthen Lebanese municipalities manage solid waste, a partnership expected to directly affect at least 2 million people from 280 municipalities across the country.

The programs, dubbed SWAM I and SWAM II, aim to create and improve waste management infrastructure throughout a country that has long been undermined by both the Syrian and the solid waste crises.

Agreements were signed during a launch ceremony at the Ministry of Administrative Development at Starco Building in the presence of Administrative Development Minister Nabil de Freige, EU envoy Christina Lassen, representatives from the Interior Ministry, the Environment Ministry, the Council for Development and Reconstruction and heads of the municipalities, as well as experts on waste management.

“Lebanon suffers from a severe lack of adequate infrastructure to treat solid waste, caused by extra pressures to the system from the high number of refugees and the closure of the Naameh landfill last summer,”. said Christina Lassen, EU ambassador to Lebanon.

The project aims to build waste management facilities throughout Lebanon and increase the basic services and equipment in various municipalities. This will promote a decentralized approach to the garbage crisis.

SWAM I and SWAM II will overall provide or widen eight sanitary landfills and eight solid waste treatments plants as well as disposal and collection equipment in the municipalities of Dinnieh, Tripoli, Koura, Zghorta, Baalbek, Nabatieh, Sidon, Tyre, Bint Jbeil, Jub Jennin, Srar and Zahle.

“Prior to the outbreak of the [garbage] crisis there were 960 makeshifts dumps, but today they are over 4,000,” said de Freige in a joint news conference with Lassen.

Garbage has piled up in Beirut and Mount Lebanon when the Environment Ministry closed the Naameh landfill south of Beirut last July without securing a substitute.

The estimated budget for these improvements is 35 million euros, elevating the EU’s overall assistance to Lebanon to more than 77 million euros for waste solutions since 2004.

“Cooperation between the EU and the office of the minister of Administrative Development addresses a wide variety of projects ranging from solid waste management to development of human resources and strategic development,” de Freige said.

“We are ready to do more and look into future projects, such as supporting Lebanon’s government in long-term strategic planning on waste.”

Lassen and de Freige expressed hopes to engage in more civil society projects and reinforcing awareness campaigns in the future, acknowledging that waste management was a subtle and multifaceted challenge that must therefore be carried out with a better national governance and juridical implementation of environmental laws.

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