TUNIS: Because the government was slow to implement an alternative solution to a landfill that was due to close in 2013, this eastern governorate has been at a loss for more than a year as to what to do with its household waste.
Will October 4, 2022 go down in history as the day of the liberation of Sfax? May be. This first Tuesday of October, the advisory committee tasked by Governor Fakher Fahfak on July 26, 2022 to propose a solution to the municipal waste problem that has persisted for more than a year, returned its copy.
It proposes a “participatory process in the management of the waste disposal crisis in Sfax, which covers various aspects: technical, economic, legal, regulatory and environmental”.
Although the mission had three months to complete, the experts submitted their recommendations three weeks before the deadline. Because they acted in an emergency.
In the governorate of Sfax, the country’s second economic center, the anger of the population – almost a million residents – is reaching a climax because this has gone on for too long.
It all started on September 27, 2021. That day, the El Guenna landfill in Agareb, a settlement in the west of the governorate that had previously processed the region’s municipal waste, was closed because it had reached its capacity limit. But the authorities did not find an alternative solution, Sfax is turning into a real dump.
Established in 2008, the El Guenna landfill was scheduled to close in 2013, which meant and required authorities to implement an alternative solution in the meantime to avoid the current impasse. But they “didn’t stop postponing the deadline and the development of radical solutions,” accused Anuar Abdelkafi, a doctor and environmental activist (during a debate hosted by Sfax radio). In 2019, the authorities went so far as to ignore a court order issued in the same year that ordered the landfill to be closed.
On September 27, 2021, everyone believes that the El Guenna test site will finally be closed. But the locals discover that the authorities really intend to dig a new pit there in order to preserve it. Then the real struggle begins between the residents, who want a radical and final solution, and the authorities, who, due to lack of time and financial resources, can only offer them temporary measures.
Experts called by the governor hope that a solution can be found that will satisfy both parties.
First, in order to overcome the obstacle related to the refusal of all areas of Sfax to host a new landfill, they propose to “share the burden” with the creation of new collection centers and landfills in the four corners of the governorate, and before that Finally, they emphasize “the importance of the joint efforts of citizens , members of civil society and national organizations.”
Then they offer to grant benefits to settlements where waste will be stored and which they have compiled a list of. Finally, they present proposals for reforming the legal framework for waste management.
The Committee of Experts is aware that the implementation of this process “depends on the state’s compliance with its obligations”, particularly from a financial point of view. But if the deal ever fails, it will reinforce the feeling among Sfaxians that they are victims of segregation. “They think that if this disaster had happened in Tunisia or another favorable region, it would not have lasted so long,” emphasizes Anuar Abdelkafi.