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EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian crisis

A safer and more efficient waste management system


"We can say that 97% of the people living in the camp cooperate, they are sorting their waste."

Nader, 44, is from Deraa, Syria, and has been living in Jordan for almost 9 years. He lives in Za’atari camp with his wife and children and works as a technical team leader for Oxfam. “I have different responsibilities […]: managing workers, overseeing them and make sure they are in charge of sorting [waste], and supervising all the machines and tools we have,” he explains.

Oxfam is part of a consortium led by GIZ implementing a project in Za’atari camp whose objective is improving living conditions of refugees, by developing a more efficient solid waste management system and waste water treatment (sludge management system) in the camp. The project is also implemented in the refugee camp in Azraq and in other parts of Jordan so that local communities can also benefit from more effective waste management practices.

Nader is part of the cash-for-work component of this project, which focuses on giving access to employment opportunities to vulnerable Jordanians and refugees in the field of solid waste management. “I am very happy at work,” he says. “It allows me to provide for my family, I don’t have any other work. […] I have two diplomas, a Masters’ in social science and […] a diploma in mechanical engineering,” he continues. “This qualifies me to do this job, also taking into consideration the experience I had in Syria.”

“At the Oxfam sorting stations […],” explains Ralf Senzel, team leader for the Solid Waste Management project at GIZ, “the idea is to implement waste segregation at the household level. The community in Za’atari separates its waste into residual waste and dry recyclables. The latter will be collected by waste collectors and brought to the station where they will be sorted into paper, cardboard, different types of plastic, metals, etc. and treated to be sold on the Jordanian market.”

Thanks to the support of the EU via the Trust Fund, GIZ was able to coordinate the recycling process set up in Za’atari with the pilot composting project led by FAO, “where organic material is sorted out of the residual waste coming from the community in the camp, and where it will be composted and then sold as fertilizer,” explains Ralf. “The idea,” he continues, “is to have an integrated waste management system […] targeting the waste collection of residual waste, waste sorting of recyclables, composting, but also the treatment of sludge from the water treatment plant, to produce clean energy.”

Nader explains how positive the impact of this project is on the environment but especially on the community living in the camp. “Oxfam is working towards a future vision for recycling in the camp and hopefully [this system] will be implemented everywhere in Jordan and in the Arab world. […] We can say that 97% of the [people living in the camp] cooperate, they are recycling and sorting their waste.”

Chaikha, 45, mother of 5, is also from Syria and, like Nader, she lives in Za’atari camp with her family. For the past year, she has been working at the FAO’s Material Recovery Facility. “Our job is to get the organic waste and put it on the table to be sorted,” she explains. Before being able to work at the station, her family’s situation was difficult. Her husband was unable to work due to a broken arm. “If I needed something for the house, I couldn’t buy it. Now, whatever we need, I can get.”

Chaikha is very happy to be able to provide for her family. The job “had a big impact on my life. […] I was just sitting at home, I wasn’t working. This job changed my whole life!”

Thanks to the work of the consortium led by GIZ and supported by the EU through the Trust Fund, solid waste management and wastewater treatment has improved exponentially. More than 500,000 vulnerable Jordanians and Syrian refugees benefit not only from safer and healthier living conditions, but they have access to short-term job opportunities that allow their families to live more decently.