Upcoming cleaning campaign in Hammam Damt on June 5 [Archives:2006/951/Reportage]

June 1 2006

SANA'A, May 30 ) Cleaning up a crater and its surroundings, Al-Dale'a Governorate upon invitation of the Governor will witness an unusual sight on 5 June. Dozens of helpers will brave the gaping depths of the largest of Hammam Damt's sinter cones and free its lake from the plastic bottles and other rubbish visitors have left behind there over the years.

On the occasion of the upcoming International Day of the Environment on June 5, the Ministry of Water and Environment, ARWA Mineral Water Co. (Shamlan), Universal Group, the Social Fund for Development, the Governor's office, the local Cleaning Fund, the German Organization CIM and the German Embassy join forces in organizing a cleaning campaign in Hammam Damt. The inauguration ceremony is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. and will act as a kick-off for intensive cleaning and public awareness activities over a period of three days.

“We are happy for the impulse for this initiative initially expressed by the German Embassy and for the spontaneous assistance provided by ARWA Mineral Water Co. (Shamlan), Universal Group and the Social Fund for Development for jointly organizing with us and the Local Council a cleaning campaign at Hammam Damt,” expresses the Minister of Water and Environment, Eng. Abdul-Rahman F. Al-Eryani. “Illegal waste disposal is an all-too-familiar sight in Yemen, with trash strewn along the roadsides, wadis, and beaches and posing a major hazard to human health and the environment. We are proud to have such entities partnering with us in this event,” says the Minister.

By almost any form of evaluation, municipal solid waste management is a growing environmental and financial problem in Yemen. The majority of local councils cannot manage the growing volume of waste produced in their cities. The problems associated with the management of solid waste have reached sizeable proportions. They can only be solved if the government and civil society join forces and respond to their common responsibility. Sustainable waste management must be efficient in terms of environmental protection, socially acceptable and efficient in terms of economic viability. The challenge today is how to reach a strategy where all three aspects are of mutual importance. Waste management has become a progressively more difficult and visible issue in Yemen over recent years. Service providers are struggling to keep pace with demographic growth and economic and social developments and its impacts on public health, safety and the environment. Many waste management service providers are caught in a downward development spiral, with low levels of investment and service performance affecting public satisfaction and cost recovery. “A lack of public awareness deteriorates the situation. However, appropriate waste management is a basic need of every citizen. We are fortunate to be joined in this cleaning campaign by extraordinary partners,” says the Minister.

“I am happy that companies like ARWA Mineral Water Co. and Universal Group immediately agreed to support the campaign in Hammam Damt. A signal like this from the private sector reflects the concern about the current waste situation in the country. Waste should be seen as a resource which may even offer attractive economic prospects under certain circumstances. For example, Germany is aiming for a closed substance cycle. Under this concept, waste is to remain predominantly within the economic cycle of production, distribution and consumption, and would ultimately be used as a substitute for primary raw materials in the form of secondary raw materials,” says the German Ambassador, Mr. Frank M. Mann, “I am happy that Germany already for some years is engaged in assisting the Yemeni Government in the field of solid waste management and has funded a number of successful awareness and pilot projects.”

“ARWA Mineral Water Co. (Shamlan) is delighted to be a part of this unique effort to promote environmental stewardship. Whether it is keeping Hammam Damt litter-free or helping to increase public awareness, it's all a part of thinking green and being a trusted and valued community partner. We feel the campaign will help to establish direct contacts with the affected citizens in order to raise awareness and to act together to help present and future generations by promoting sustainable waste management for a cleaner, healthier and more attractive environment in our country, with our support to this campaign,” highlights Mr. Jamil Morshed, General Manager of ARWA Mineral Water Co.

“A constraint upon public education and community participation is the strongly held attitude that waste management is in the whole responsibility of the Government. Waste left in public areas may not be perceived as a public health risk or even an eyesore. However, it is the responsibility of every single member of the society. A clean environment will help us in our efforts to improve living conditions in Yemen,” says Mr. Abdulwahab Al-Mujahid from the Social Fund for Development.

“In the interests of sustainability, this equation should not only consider the aspects of environmental protection, but also the economic effects, as well as the social aspects (e.g. jobs). The economy of Hammam Damt is depending on tourism and agriculture. However, the current waste situation does not support our aim of promoting our country for tourism. Therefore, it is of importance for us to support this upcoming campaign. Moreover, Universal intends to carry out similar campaigns in other cities and historical locations around Yemen to create awareness towards this issue. This is a further demonstration of how important litter prevention and other quality of life issues are to the activities adopted by the Universal Group, aimed at promoting Yemen worldwide”, emphasizes Mr. Jamal Omar, General Manager of Universal Hotels.

“Public knowledge and the willingness to devote time and energy to cleanness and waste reduction needs to be enhanced. Even in places with the provision of waste bins it is a common practise for many households to dispose of waste in the nearest convenient place such as open drains or areas around waste bins. There seems to be a lack of community spirit and residents are prepared to dispose of their waste in someone else's neighbourhood, without considering the effect of their actions on other member of the community and on the environment”, says Dr. Lia Carol Sieghart, CIM.

The partners are looking forward to a successful campaign, the Minister once again thanks them and the Governor of Al-Dale'a for making this event possible and welcomes everybody who would like to join in and help restore the sinter cone to its natural beauty.