Waste in Palestine

 National Strategy for Solid Waste Management in the Palestinian Territory 2010-2014

The environmentally sound management of waste is among the environmental issues of major concern in protecting and preserving the environment. Unfortunately, the management of solid waste in Palestine has never been achieved on an environmentally sound basis. The infrastructure services are the foundation for physical development that is considered a prerequisite for the socioeconomic development of any nation.

The "National Strategy for Solid Waste Management in Palestine 2010-2014", hereinafter referred to as NSSWM, is the first cross-sectoral strategy for solid waste (SW) in the Palestinian Territory. It constitutes the framework for all decisions, programs, activities, and medium-term investment plans, aiming at developing the SW sector in the Palestinian Territory.

The components included in this strategy are:

  1.  The introduction which includes the methodology and a background on the SW sector in the Palestinian Territory.
  2.  The policy principles that form the basis for the strategy.
  3.  Assessment of the current status of solid waste management (SWM) in the Palestinian Territory and the key issues.
  4.  The strategic vision, strategic objectives and sectoral policies.
  5.  Strategic interventions and responsibilities of parties involved.
  6.  Implementation of the strategy, monitoring and evaluation indicators

The NSSWM, which was issued by the Steering Committee formed according to the decision of the Palestinian Ministerial Cabinet No. 53 of Year 2008. The document was produced and lastly endorsed by the Ministerial Cabinet after wide consultation through a partnership process involving several stakeholders, including key Palestinian ministries and national entities in participation with other stakeholders involved in the SWM sector. Preparing the strategy was supported by the German Federal Government, through the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) Solid Waste Management Programme.

The development path for SWM sector in the upcoming five years set by this strategy is aligned with the overall national Palestinian development goals and the strategic vision of establishing a Palestinian State according to the 2009 plan: "Palestine - Ending the Occupation and Establishing the State".

Remediation of key issues, setting the foundation for a more effective and efficient SWM systems and practices though improving the legislative, organizational, technical and economical frameworks are among the main aims of the strategy. The strategy also aims at reducing the negative impacts of SW on health and environment, responding to urgent and priority issues and mid-term needs. The envisaged policies and interventions set by the strategy aims at improving the quality of the life of Palestinians and putting Palestine on the way towards achieving an integrated and sustainable SWM systems and practices in the future.

The implementation of sound and integrated SWM in Palestine is confronted with several challenges at the legislative, organizational, technical, environmental, and financial levels. This situation is further complicated by the lack of accurate statistical data needed for decision making, planning and monitoring operations. The complications of the current political situation adds its own challenges, such as the limited Palestinian control over land and resources, in addition to the disposal of  Israeli  waste (including hazardous waste) in occupied Palestinian land.

The SW sector has drawn attention in the previous years, at all levels, due to its social, economical, and environmental impacts. The Palestinian government made several achievements in this regard, including passage of several relevant laws, including Local Authorities Law No. 1 of 1997 regarding Local Government, the Environment Law No. (7) of 1999, and the Public Health Law of 2004. Additionally, some sanitary landfills were launched, which proved successful and curtailed the negative health and environmental impacts of random dumpsites, common throughout the Palestinian areas. Other achievements include many public awareness efforts, the implementation of exemplary models for infectious medical waste treatment, and providing equipment for waste collection, transport, and disposal operations. Several international donor organizations contributed to the support of SW sector development projects and programs, especially in the development and funding of regional land filling facilities and in the procurement of waste collection and transport equipment.

In spite of the achievements made so far, the SW sector in the Palestinian Territory still faces many hurdles, mostly due to the insufficiency of legal, organizational and institutional frameworks, and due to the lack of strategic vision, policies, and programs needed to develop this sector. This resulted in the delay of important actions, such as developing the necessary infrastructure and support systems, which usually require financial allocations beyond the ability of service- providing agencies, especially at the local level. This situation has created many gaps in the management system for SW at the national, regional, and local levels and unsafe methods were used to fill these gaps. Moreover, the concerned parties were ultimately unable to take effective actions to completely limit the health and environmental impacts of SW, and to achieve optimum use of available resources. This reflected on other aspects of the SWM process, such as waste minimization, recycling, and treatment operations, many of which are still individual initiatives without a governing political or institutional framework. Overall, this situation has had its negative health, economical, social, and environmental consequences, in addition to its impact on the esthetic image of urban Palestinian environment.

It is, therefore, safe to say that the SWM file has been handled over many years without sufficient attention to the social, economical, environmental, legislative, or technical dimensions of this sector, or to the dramatic consequences of the lack of sound policies on the long term, which will bear even a higher price tag if the status quo is to continue without remediation. This led the Palestinian government to declare the SW sector as one with high national priority.

In light of the facts on the ground and according to the assessment of the current status of Palestinian SWM, the NSSWM has established a national vision and objectives to improve this sector. In doing so, a multi-fold approach was employed to determine policy directions that will bridge the gap between the current status and the desired development objectives of the Palestinian SWM sector. While some of these policies targeted developing the existing systems and finding solutions to the urgent issues of the SWM sector, other policies were focused on setting the foundations for sustainable and integrated SWM, taking into account the time period allocated to implement the strategy.

Below are the strategic objectives and the sectoral policies adopted by the NSSWM, which are detailed in Section 4 of the strategy document.

Strategic Objective One: An effective legal and organizational framework for SWM

Policy (1): Development and update of the legislative framework supporting integrated SWM

Policy (2): Strengthening the organizational frame of national institutions and supporting their complementary roles in SWM

Strategic Objective Two: Strong and capable institutions

Policy (3): Establishing an integrated, coordinated, and sustainable institutional approach to support institutional capacity building in the SWM sector

Strategic Objective Three: Effective and environmentally-safe management of SW services

Policy (4): Developing the current management systems for SW collection and transport, in order to improve the quality and effectiveness of services and its availability to all citizens

Policy (5): Safe and efficient disposal of SW in regional sanitary landfills servicing all communities

Policy (6): Encouraging the reduction of SW quantities destined for land filling

Policy (7):    Prohibiting the use of random dumpsites and closing or rehabilitating the existing sites to limit their environmental and health risks

Policy (8): Reducing the amounts of greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted as a result of SW activities

Strategic Objective Four: Financially viable and efficient SWM services and activities

Policy (9): Reducing the cost for SW collection and transport

Policy (10): Achieving cost recovery and self-financing for SWM operating costs

Strategic Objective Five: Principles and mechanisms suitable for managing medical, hazardous, and special wastes

Policy (11): Creating appropriate inventory and tracking systems for hazardous waste

Policy (12): Treatment of medical waste before its final disposal according to the "polluter pays" principle to limit its negative health and environmental impacts

Policy (13): Minimizing the negative health and environmental impacts of special waste

Strategic Objective Six: Increasing the participation of the private sector

Policy (14): Creating an enabling investment environment that encourages the private sector to participate

Strategic Objective Seven: A more participating and aware community

Policy (15):    Promoting the partnership spirit and strengthening the alliance between service providers and the served communities to enhance the awareness of SW issues.

Strategic Objective Eight: Effective information and monitoring systems

Policy (16):  Establishing a unified national database for SW and institutionalizing monitoring systems.