UN agency project promotes “Zero Waste Awareness” among Syrian refugees in Turkey

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) promotes the “Zero Waste Awareness” among Syrian refugees with a project specifically designed for Turkey’s four southeastern provinces.

The UNDP created this project to address the unexpected population growth in the provinces of Hatay, Kilis, Sanliurfa, and Gaziantep, where most refugees have been residing, according to the UN agency.

“With over 3.6 million registered Syrians under Temporary Protection status, Turkey hosts the largest refugee population in the world,” Ersin Dagdur, a project coordinator at the UNDP Turkey Office, told Xinhua on Wednesday.

Dagdur said around 50 percent of the Syrian refugees live in these four provinces, creating profound humanitarian, socio-economic, and environmental impacts.

“Municipalities, with their already strained capacities, even before the arrival of the displaced Syrians, are trying to cope with basic public service delivery, such as waste, waste management, firefighting capabilities,” Dagdur noted.

“Infrastructure projects, regardless of the scale, are one of the biggest items in municipalities’ budgets.”The coordinator said the agency’s overall target in launching the project was to ensure the safe disposal of waste, prevent uncontrolled dumping, and eliminate environmental threats.”

It also ensures that municipalities can recover economic value from waste and waste management,” he added.

For Dagdur, the campaign also helps to reduce social tensions, ease the risk of pressure between Syrians and their host communities due to underserving of the local public services, such as waste collection.

The project seems to have come a long way, especially in Kilis and Sanliurfa.

As part of the plan, two civic amenity centers were built in these provinces in 2020. So far, up to 2,500 tons of recyclables were collected via source segregation, with 20 percent per ton of solid waste saving.

Dagdur also noted that direct involvement of communities into waste management eco-system has been provided through awareness-raising activities around the importance of a clean environment that commonly benefits all.

A total of 10,000 households participated in the waste management process in these two provinces alone.

Some 200 individuals, with half of them Syrians, enrolled in specific skills training on handicraft manufacturing from recycling operations.

Additionally, several woman cooperatives have been supported to transform the recyclables into new products, creating livelihood opportunities for both Syrians and host communities, according to Dagdur.

“This is aimed to provide sustainable livelihoods opportunities through bringing Syrians and host community members together over common economic and environmental interests, to improve social cohesion and local economic development,” he stressed.

Thousands of teachers, public and municipal employees were also provided training courses to become “environmental stewards” for the local community.”

Let’s not throw away, let’s transform,” and “a clean province is possible with zero waste,” are among the slogans of the campaign.