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Saida Garbage Mountain, Lebanon

Established in 1982, and managed by the Municipality of Saida. The dumpsite first received rubble and demolition waste from destroyed buildings but has since received all kinds of waste from municipalities of the Saida district.


The “Jabal al-Zbeleh,” the “mountain of garbage” managed by the Municipality of Saida, dates back to 1975, but grew substantially after 1982 when the dumpsite first received rubble and demolition waste from destroyed buildings following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in that year, but has since received all kinds of waste from municipalities of the Saida district.  It is situated on the southern shores of this coastal city, 200 meters away from urban, residential areas. Mohammad Sarji, an activist and member of the NGO Bahr Loubnan, who has long campaigned for the rehabilitation of the mountain directed a short movie [1] showing the mountain of Saida through the eyes of a 10 year old girl who lives near the mountain as well as the effects of this mountain on humans and the marine environment alike. Medical and Chemical wastes can be found in this dump. In November 2009, big amounts of medical waste [2] washed up on the beach of Saida after sliding from the dump. Moreover, Palestinian refugees from the nearby camp who make a living by scavenging for materials from the dump have witnessed the horrors [3] that can be found in the mountain, like full syringes, blood and flesh. Many cases of infection [4] and hospitalization were reported among the scavengers. Regular fires would erupt from the mountain due to the summer heat and the methane generated by the decomposition of waste, taking the fumes inside the city and exposing [5] the citizens to toxic air. In addition to the public health hazard this garbage dump poses, it has also been considered as the main cause of thinning fish catches in the region.Rehabilitation of the Saida dumpsite has for long been subject to intense political bickering. It even became a major campaign issue in the 2009 parliamentary elections between the two opposing parties in the city. After being approved on October 4, 2012, the Saida Dumpsite Rehabilitation Project was not short on controversy. It was reported [6] that the $20 million sum, put aside for the project as part of a larger Saudi grant received by Lebanon after the July 2006 Israeli war, went missing. With serious doubts being raised in regards to the use of state funds and lack of transparency in the Lebanese government.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Saida Garbage Mountain, Lebanon
State or province:Saida
Location of conflict:Saida
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Specific commodities:Domestic municipal waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The site is a non-engineered landfill with a surface area of over 6 hectares and rises up to 58m above sea level with extremely steep side slopes. The waste is estimated at 1.5 million cubic meters, and consists of demolition debris, municipal solid waste, hazardous waste, and slaughterhouse waste.

Project area:6
Level of Investment for the conflictive project25,245,297.53 [10]
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:350,000
Start of the conflict:01/01/1982
End of the conflict:31/12/2016
Company names or state enterprises:IBC Environmental (IBC) from Lebanon
Suez Environnement from France
Al-Jihad for Commerce and Contracting from Lebanon
Relevant government actors:Saida Municipality
Council for Development and Reconstruction
Ministry of Health
Ministry of Environment
Ministry of Interior and Municipalities
International and Finance InstitutionsUnited Nations Development Programme (UNDP) from United States of America
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Bahr Loubnan
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Forms of mobilization:Development of alternative proposals
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Fires, Soil contamination
Health ImpactsVisible: Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Other Health impacts
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Although the dumpsite was rehabilitated, the lack of transparency in the decision making process has left many questions unanswered.
Sources & Materials

[2] Syringes plague Sidon beach as dump spills medical waste - The Daily Star
[click to view]

[3] Lebanon’s Sidon Garbage Dump More Serious Than Just the Smell - Green Prophet
[click to view]

[6] Saida Trash Mountain: The Stench of Corruption - Al-Akhbar
[click to view]

[7] In Lebanon, a garden blooms on former 'trash mountain' - Mail Online
[click to view]

[8] From Shame to Fame… Saida Trash Mountain to Green Park - UNDP
[click to view]

[9] Saida’s controversial garbage mountain - NowMedia
[click to view]

[10 ] The Rehabilitation of Saida Dumpsite - UNDP
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[1] Mountain of Saida (15') | 2006

Mohamed Elsarji
[click to view]

[4] Saida: Poubelle de déchets au Liban
[click to view]

[5] Mountain of Trash Blights Historic Lebanese City of Saida
[click to view]

Other documents

Saida Dumpsite Rehabilitation Project (En) - UNDP
[click to view]

The Rehabilitation of Saida Dumpsite - UNDP Project Factsheet
[click to view]

Ordinance number 8803 - 04/10/2002 - Ministry of Environment
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Christophe Elias Maroun - ICTA
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:2535
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