Tunisia [Video]: Interview with Seifeddine Dormek on Agareb landfill crisis

In a videoconference meeting to Tunisie Numerique on Monday, October 04, 2021, student-researcher in Pollution and Environmental Management at the Faculty of Sciences of Bizerte and ecological activist Seifeddine Dormek addressed relevant information on the crisis of the Agareb landfill in the governorate of Sfax. “Although there are regulations on environmental protection and waste management, none are implemented on the ground,” he said.

“Very minimal” environmental impact according to an ANGED official:
As part of their studies, Mr Seifeddine, accompanied by his colleagues travelled to the Agareb landfill and after talking to officials in the municipality as well as national waste management agencies such as ANGED, they were capable to examine the scale of this crisis. “Agareb’s landfill site is solely used for household waste, but residents have discovered medical waste there such as syringes and sachets of physiological liquid and garbage of various sorts,” he explained.
“We contacted ANGED who affirmed that 14 municipalities in the region dump 700 tonnes of waste every day in this landfill, even though it is in the middle of a nature reserve! Does this make sense? “, he questioned.
In addition, ANGED informed him that the landfill “occupies a small area of ​​the nature reserve which covers 5 hectares”, considering that its ecological impact is very minimal.
History of the landfill:
Mr. Dormek stipulated that according to the data available on the forum “Manich Msaddak”, this landfill was established in 2004, its operation started in 2008 for a period of 5 years, its closure was programmed in 2013 as stipulated in the act of exploitation. For its part, ANGED said it has been set to operate for 15 years and is scheduled to shut dit down in 2022.
It should be remarked that the landfill was the subject of a judicial decision to close at the end of September. A few days after its application, the landfill resumed service according to Tunisienumerique correspondent in Sfax as well as the testimonies of the residents of Agareb. “Locals have warned ANGED and city officials with escalation if the final closure of this landfill does not take place by December 31,” our speaker said.
An environmental and health disaster:
The Agareb delegation is largely agricultural and additionally has 150 industries. The waste from these factories, even if well treated, pollutes the soil, air and water. “The inhabitants of Agareb informed us that they were suffocating foul odours and toxic gases which arise from the landfill over a range of 15 kilometres, yet an ANGED official believes hard as iron that the gases emitted are odourless “, he added.
“We asked ANGED to close the repository forever and transport the waste to another, located far from urban areas. It assured us that initially the landfill was installed far from houses. ” “But over the last decade, the demand for housing in this area has grown, so it has become meshed between the residents and the companies responsible for the management of this landfill.”
Possible solutions:
The official said to Mr Dormek that they intend to move the landfill 7 km from Agareb, far from houses and farming areas, following “complaints from citizens.” The Agency further asked, via correspondence, the 14 municipalities to decrease the mass of waste produced daily.
For his part, Mr Seifeddine felt that these resolutions are not as effective, recommending relocating the landfill in the middle of the desert, given the availability of a large fleet of garbage trucks. “A ton of waste managed by ANGED costs 45 dinars, while private companies price 150 dinars. The state is the big loser, “he said.
Likewise, he suggested to ANGED that it give the service of sorting their waste to factories, as it is hard for the agents of the landfill to carry out this task. “ANGED declined this proposal because if it uses pressure on the factory, employees risk being fired to compensate for the costs of processing and sorting and this can only increase the unemployment crisis”, he added.
Our speaker estimated that the decrease of the environmental impact is not only a question of means in Tunisia but more of initiatives and will, affirming that the environmental spirit is booming thanks to the civil society and the startups.
Environmental awareness: A sustainable solution
Mr. Dormek stated it is easy nowadays to convey environmental awareness among citizens of various age groups, particularly through groups on social networks and the popularization of new technologies. A member of the “Ahyini” start-up is acting in this direction, Mr Seifeddine indicated that an educational cartoon consisting of 6 episodes lasting 5 minutes has been posted online.
This cartoon is available in sign language and includes references to national heritage. At the end of each episode, a quiz is given to children to test their understanding. He further referred to environmental education events and workshops for young children. On the program, a play performed by children, which will be broadcast online on the Ahyini.tn platform by videoconference on Zoom on October 10, 2021 and a varied program on October 15 at the Amusement Park located in Hammamet South.

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