Tag Archive: rehabilitation


Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. I’m sure we can all testify to the pain of the civil war, be it through personal experience, those of our parents, extended relatives, our loved ones, and others. We’ve all been touched by it. At least 150,000 people were killed in our war (yes, it was our war, let’s not blame it all on foreign forces who were also here at the time), roughly 250,000-300,000 displaced,  and an unknown number kidnapped whose whereabouts are still unaccounted for. Our politicians called for national unity and for steps in the “right direction”…whatever that means. In our atmosphere of political bullying, chronic socio-political sectarianism, and crumbling social services, the substantive meaning of these words is questionable.  Face the facts, we’ve dealt with political near-paralysis for roughly 37 years. What are we supposed to unite around?

Our country. Our environment. At first it sounds outlandish, but it makes sense when you think about it. As a Lebanese I live the political malaise, anger, frustration, and sectarianism that plagues our country. But regardless of your political affiliations or your religious sect…don’t you need clean air? Don’t you need clean water? Don’t you need a clean country? Think about it. This is one thing that we can all agree on…we need a better environment.

I’m not asking for anyone to be best friends with people they do not like. What I’m asking for is to consider our environmental crisis as the basis of national reconciliation. The need for a clean and liveable habitat surpasses our identities as Christians, Muslims, Druze, or whatever you’d like to call yourself. We all need a place where we can live healthily in a sustainable environment. Let’s think about what it means to literally work together to rebuild our country…”Lebanon the Green”, as it was once called. Rehabilitating our country could even mean rehabilitating ourselves. Just think about it. That’s all I ask.

Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. As I’m sure you’ve already heard, this morning there were fires all over Northern Lebanon; in Douseh, Jabal Akroum, Qobeiyat.  Between the 300,000 square meters of greenery that were burned in Douseh and the 400,000 square meters of trees in Jabal Akroum, we’ve lost at least 700,000 m² of forest.

So, what do we do? Where do we go from here? These aren’t even the first forest fires we’ve had this summer. In mid-August we lost 78 acres of vegetation to fire. Lebanon, this does not bode well for us. Our country was once over 30% forest, now stands at 13%, and courtesy of all of these fires, will be even less. We need to fix this.

Our first priority is rehabilitating these burned areas. The biggest post-fire problems are soil erosion, desertification, and flooding. Given that much of the soil is burned, a lot of it is completely gone–hence, soil erosion. As for desertfication, the burning strips the remaining soil of its nutrients, making it difficult to re-plant in the same location. Flooding in particular is important because after a fire, the soil becomes water repellant. The reason for this is that  plants and trees have a wax-like coat on their leaves to protect them from water, and when these plants and trees are burned, this wax-like substance disperses and later covers the soil when the fire begins to cool. This causes water to run off the soil rather than allow for absorption.
 
The first thing we need to do is “soil-cover”, or rather, take good soil from adjacent unburned land and place it over the burned land. This should be done no later than after the second full growing season. After that, we must seed the soil with sustainable plants and trees, while removing fire-catching plants. We know the drill; you’ve heard all of this before, I’m sure. I’ve even blogged about it before.
 
But Lebanon, what is far more important is making sure these things do not happen again. The single most pertinent cause of wildfire is human negligence. We must make sure not to leave camp fires, flammable liquids and gases (these are often kitchen and farming items), electrical equipment or even cigarettes butts in the open. These things are all highly flammable, and with the sun being so hot, a fire can easily start. In the case of a cigarette, we may even think we have put it out but there could still be some flame left, with the result being a blaze. Fires can start so easily, and once they do, they are very difficult to stop.
 
 
 
I can’t help but wonder if there is a some deliberate fire-setting going on. What do you think? If there is, I encourage you to report anything that you know to the authorities. We definitely need to press for stringent laws pertaining to those who commit such crimes against us and our country. Do we want this to be what was once our country?
 
 
 
 
It’s time for us to come together, rehabilitate our land, and stop this from happening again. We can do it, Lebanon!!
 

Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. Do you remember our mountain-like dump of garbage in Saida? The one that is over 50 meters high? You know, the one that looks like this?

Well, I have some news for you. The government has finally approved step one to start the dump’s rehabilitation, which involves the construction of a maritime barrier to separate the dump from the sea and making the Sinnik waste management plant operational. In addition, there will be a detailed study as to the current state of the dump, how to stop the use of this land as a dumpsite, how to deal with the  existing waste, and identify the sites to which the waste will be sent to be processed. Great! The garbage will finally be processed and the site will be rehabilitated!

However, there are some down sides to this plan. In the long run, the plan will involve filling in a total of 63 hectares of the sea with land (18 in the first stage, 45 in the second), and the land that will be “created” by filling in this part of the sea will be used to either build a new port for the city, a public garden for the municipality or commercial institutions. Granted, the second part of the plan has yet to be approved, but even at the first stage, 18 hectares of our sea is destined to be filled with soil in order to be turned into land.

Filling the sea with land, also known as “land reclamation” in order to build structures on it, has environmental consequences. It is a form of habitat destruction. Land reclamation disrupts eco-systems and kills marine life. What an environmental plan should focus on is rehabilitation, not using the site to build something new. We need to rehabilitate the polluted sea around the dump too, not destroy it by filling it with soil. Lebanon, it’s great that the dumpsite is finally going to be treated, but the land reclamation part of the plan has dire environmental consequences. Let us advocate for environmental rehabilitation of both the dump and the sea! We can do it, Lebanon!

 

 

Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. As Lebanese, we love going to downtown and Gemmayze and enjoying our nightlife. And who could blame us? We’re ranked 4th in the world in that domain. We like going to our beautiful beaches, skiing in Faraya and Faqra, and enjoying parts of our country which are beautiful slices of Heaven. However, there are parts of our country that we choose to ignore; our slums.

Largely in the Eastern and Southern parts of Beirut, our slums are the result of rural migration and wartime displacement to Beirut for those in search of job opportunities. These slums are ridden with problems; poor sanitation, over-crowding, crumbling social processes, extreme poverty, and the like. However, we choose to shrug our shoulders, state that this is a predicament created by the civil war, and leave it at that. We turn a blind eye to them.

Granted, the problems that these slums face are not easy ones to solve. Aside from poor and/or displaced Lebanese, many of those who live there are foreign illegal workers; Syrians, Ethiopians, Kurds, and others who do not have legal work permits. I will not argue as to what to do with foreign and illegal residents; I hear everything from legalizing their residency to deporting them and I will not take sides on this issue. Whom I am focusing on are Lebanese who live in these neighborhoods. But I digress.

 Believe it or not, the conditions of those who live in such conditions are can be rehabilitated…to a degree, anyway. First, let us take a look at the conditions they live in. This is a picture taken on “Tarik el-Matar”  (the Airport Road).

 

 

This is an aerial picture of the Southern suburbs of Beirut:

Sothern suberbs of Beirut One of the poorest areas in Lebanon

 

 

Lebanon, these are but two of many images. We know these neighborhoods; Ouzai, Moussaitbeh, Ghbayri, Nabaa, Chiyeh, and more. We try our best to avoid them, instead of trying to rehabilitate both the people who live there and our beloved country. After all, neither they nor our slums will improve if we turn a blind eye to them. Instead the situation of our people, our nation, and environment will continue to deteriorate. In discussing this topic, we focus on the illegality of these residents, the fact that they are a strain on the system and that the slums are an eyesore to look at. I hear a lot of people asking “what do you propose to do with them?”

 

Put them to work.

 

A lot of these people come from rural areas, have little or no education, and few job skills. Many of them are squatters. Hence, their value comes in terms of menial labor. We tend to look down on those who carry out menial labor, but their value is higher than we think. My fellow Lebanese, Our economy is underdeveloped; we export only few agricultural products, cement, wine, and focus on tourism and services. We are a country that does not have a solid economic base, and we import most of our food from other countries. We have no independence in terms of even the most basic of our needs.

 

If we invest money in our agricultural sector, we can put these people to work. We need people to till the land and farm. If we invest in their training as agricultural laborers, everyone benefits. Not only will Lebanon benefit by having a growing agro-economic sector with more independence in this domain, but the “squatters” whom we used to ignore will have jobs, and will also be paying taxes. Their own disposable income, and the taxes generated from their labor, will generate higher revenues. Their living situation will improve. With this increase in revenue, we as a state can rehabilitate these areas; think about the Elissar public housing initiative. We can reconstruct housing units with better urban planning. It’s been done before. Best of all, we will have more money-making Lebanese, better housing projects, more revenues, more economic independence, and courtesy of focusing on agriculture, an improved environment.

 

My fellow Lebanese, I will admit that this argument is grounded in an element of idealism. I don’t expect that green economy will magically reconfigure our slums to shining beacons of success. In any case, should this initiative take place, it would take quite some time for any change to materialize, and the will to turn this initiative into government policy is wanting. Besides, there are plenty of non-Lebanese who live in these areas and I will not suggest any ideas as to what to do with them. However, this is a start, and one that has many positive implications. Let us put our fellow Lebanese to work and improve our situation as a nation. We can do it if we want to!!