Nida Al Ard group in Lebanon leading recycling efforts - Celebrate @ E2Expo
Zeinab Moukalled pulled together volunteers among Arab Salim’s women to sort and recycle the village’s overflowing trash. The warehouse located in southern Lebanese hilltop village stands as a testament to the perseverance of this octogenarian who defied local customs, government negligence, official indifference, a lack of funding, and even the perils of intermittent warfare to realize her modest vision.
The success of Moukalled’s campaign has not only ensured a safer and healthier environment in Arab Salim – where it helped eradicate a traditional culture of haphazard garbage dumping – but has also led nearby villages to try and establish their own recycling projects.
Lebanon’s national garbage crisis has elicited greater interest in the work of her project, now a non-profit NGO called Nidaa al-Ard, or Call of the Earth. A steady stream of visitors come to Arab Salim to see how the operation runs. The neighboring villages of Kfar Ruman and Jarjouaa also have begun similar sorting/recycling schemes.
When the effort was started in 1995, there was no money for the project, and some women were initially less than enthusiastic about sifting through their household’s garbage each day to separate bio-degradable trash, plastics, glass, and metals. Another early challenge was finding a place for the barrels and sacks of sorted trash. Over the years the organisation educated the residents of the village and the neighbouring places. And due to their long timed efforts, the village is unbelievably clean. Yet the problem facing these new recycling start-ups, however, is still the lack of funds – and government inaction. The Arab Salim warehouse is too small to accommodate all of Jarjouaa’s waste. They are currently looking for funds to increase their storage and sorting capacity.