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activities of the environment program towards Syrian refugees

arcenciel’s environment program’s mission is the preservation and development of natural resources. Created in 2003, its activities are mainly focused on three sectors; waste management, education for sustainable development, and training/ consultation.

The association works particularly to implement sustainable management systems of household waste based on source sorting and recycling. Thus It helps reducing waste-related pollution in Lebanon. Profits from the sale of plastic, paper and metal to recycling industries participate in financing social actions. The solidarity with people in need linked to sorting allows motivating society to source sorting. Currently, each month, 30 tons of wastes are recycled and 30 social actions provided to persons with difficulties. Among the beneficiary organizations, Roumieh prison (Mount Lebanon) sorts its waste, which has allowed so far funding different actions (washing machine repair, cleaning equipment ...).

Lebanon is currently facing major problems related to domestic waste management. Discarded in landfills, burned or eliminated in nature, this waste constitutes a major source of pollution. Yet they have a tremendous social, economic and environmental role, if they are well managed. In fact, 30% of waste can be recycled. The current crisis can only be solved through a system of sustainable management based on reduction, source sorting, recycling and composting. Such a system requires the devotion and contribution of Lebanese citizens, which in turn requires large-scale awareness.

The presence of such a massive number of Syrian refugees is worsening this crisis which was already acute before their arrival, requiring additional effort from the concerned parties to solve it. Indeed, the massive influx of refugees raises important issues in the environmental field. The increase in waste generated by at least one million more people within three years has important consequences in terms of resource management. Being a rural area and therefore weakly urbanized, the Bekaa Valley is also the region welcoming the biggest number of refugees. The uncontrolled implantation of refugees in a region already weak in infrastructure, poses growing environmental issues, as the number of refugees continues to increase. They are currently more than 355,000 in this region alone.

Backed by many years of experience, the environment program works directly with Syrian refugees but also from arcenciel centers across multiple projects.

The implementation of environmental activities towards Syrian refugees has several objectives: an environmental objective, an economic purpose and a social objective.
As part of a project funded by Action contre le Faim (April to June 2013), arcenciel provided assistance in Syrian refugee camps of Dalhamieh and Taalabaya, in the Bekaa Valley. The objective of this project was to implement a sustainable solid waste management system in both camps. The environment program has gained experience in this field, since it has already implemented such a system in the Palestinian refugee camps in Rachidiyeh (Tyre) and Ein el Helwe (Sidon) respectively in 2011 and 2012, in collaboration with the UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works United Nations for Palestine Refugees in the Near East).

In order to achieve this, 9 visits were conducted in the field by an agricultural engineer and a specialist in waste management from arcenciel team to assess the needs. Following these assessments, 63 bins were distributed to refugees and sorting awareness sessions were delivered to 495 of them. In order to achieve an environmental objective, these awareness activities allow people to measure the impact on their experiences and the damage that can cause untreated solid wastes; once accumulated, it creates toxic gases and generate diseases. Buying drugs or products to fight against the proliferation of mosquitoes is an additional burden on an already weakened population. On an economical level, internal waste treatment program and the establishment of a sorting station in the camp, through bins distribution, create job opportunities for people who do not have jobs either because of a rampant unemployment, or because they have a disability or other difficulties. Their active participation in arcenciel’s program will allow them to have a salary and thus support their families.
On a social level, the association collected as well recyclable waste for resale to recycling industries; the profits obtained fund social actions specifically related to refugee camps in the region.

This first project in the Bekaa was followed by a second one, funded by USAID through Office of Transition Initiatives (November 2013-February 2014). It aimed to develop long-term sorting management activities of recyclable waste from arcenciel’s premises in the region.
182 awareness sessions were provided by our volunteers in the region within schools, universities, refugee camps or in local associations. These sessions have been delivered to nearly 5,000 people within four months, including more than 2,000 Syrian refugees.

Sorting bins were distributed in different organizations. The sorted waste of thirty organizations, including Syrian refugee camps, are collected by arcenciel and sold to recycling industries, to fund social services towards host communities and Syrian refugees.
A sorting and preparation waste recycling center is being implemented in the Taanayel domain, allowing waste recovery of the Bekaa.

If the activities implemented engage significant efforts done by arcenciel to improve the living standards of Lebanese and Syrian communities, the lack of resources hampers the possibilities of development of a particularly dynamic and effective program. Additional contributions could indeed afford to extend and replicate pilot projects in other parts of Lebanon to similar target populations.

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