Climate Change, From Paris to Palestinian Camps
Combating climate change is a global issue, yet we recently saw that not all countries are on board. Namely, only three: Syria, Nicaragua and the United States.
The good news is that the Paris Climate Agreement shows how widespread environmentalism has become. All 175 other nations in the world signed on, vowing to protect the environment. It’s one thing that even Israel and the Palestinian Authority agree on. Today environmental efforts are launching all over the globe—from grassroots projects to institutional policy.
At ANERA we look no further than our own team. In Palestine, we tackled water scarcity by introducing recycled wastewater irrigation to Jenin farmers. Now all the water that would have gone to waste as crops dried up is put to good use, and fields are flourishing.
In Lebanon our team launched a pilot recycling project that just won the Lebanon Energy Globe Award for Best Environmental Project of 2017. The Solid Waste Management project tackles the ongoing trash crisis in Lebanon. It’s even more severe in crowded old Palestinian refugee camps, where families live in poverty. Recycling is often non-existent, and there’s no space to dispose of trash.
That’s why our team targeted the refugee camp of Nahr El Bared and the nearby village of Mashha to try out the new project. We recruited a group of motivated youth volunteers from those same places to ensure that it’s truly a community-based initiative.
There are several facets to this project. First, volunteers distribute waste sorting bins to local families—one for recyclables and one for other household waste. Then they coordinate a trash collection schedule (a first, in many of these under-served communities). And to make sure their environmental message makes a lasting impact, the volunteers conduct awareness sessions to teach community members about waste disposal, health and hygiene.
A Local Scavenger Goes Green
One of our participants is Ayman, a Palestinian refugee in Nahr El Bared. Like his father, he’s a scavenger, traveling the camp with a cart to collect any recyclable items he can find—plastic, aluminum, iron, tin.
Naturally, Ayman was a perfect candidate for our project. He became one of our first participants and helped engage 3,600 households in the refugee camp. He was one of the trash collectors on the newly enforced schedule, carrying a bullhorn to announce his arrival in each neighborhood. “Women and children know my collection schedule, and they come to me with their recyclables before I even blow the horn.”
It’s for my own good and for the good of the environment.
Now Ayman is on a mission, and he’s proud on the environmental impact he’s had.
“It is not taboo to work in scavenging, and I am very proud of what I do,” he said. “I’m doing this for my own good and for the good of the environment.”
People like Ayman show that no matter one’s circumstances, there’s always time to make a difference in the world. With his bullhorn and waste cart, he’s greening the refugee camp, spreading the word, and creating a brighter future.