Gaziantep, a city of 2,2, million people, is located near the Syrian border and is currently hosting 350 000 Syrian refugees, according to Turkish government data.
Gaziantep municipality struggles against waste with the support of UNDP
Text: Nina Jaatinen
Photos: Vanessa Riki
UNDP Turkey was one of the first agencies to support the Government with its response to the Syria crisis in 2014. One of the main areas of work is UNDP Turkey’s support to municipalities by investing in additional waste management infrastructure and technical support. The support is provided primarily to municipalities in the south eastern parts of Turkey, located next to Syrian border, where approximately 1.5 million Syrians live. UNDP Turkey works closely with the municipalities of provinces such as Gaziantep, Kilis, Hatay, and Sanliurfa and offers support on issues including solid waste and wastewater management.
“ Waste is the biggest problem”
One of the biggest environmental challenges caused by the Syrian crisis has been the additional generation of waste, which in turn has led to additional health and environmental risks. Currently in Gaziantep, the amount of waste has increased threefold year-on-year.
“One of the main challenges for the municipalities is the waste management. The population grew so fast in such a short period of time due to the arrival of the Syrians, that it was difficult for the municipalities to respond to the high increase in demand of basis services”, says Turhal.
One of the biggest environmental challenges caused by the Syrian crisis has been the additional generation of waste, which in turn has led to additional health and environmental risks. At the moment in Gaziantep the amount of waste has increased threefold per year.
A good example of the support provided by UNDP to the municipality is Gaziantep, a city of 2.2 million people, which is currently hosting 350 000 Syrian refugees, according to Government data.
In Gaziantep, the amount of solid waste last year (2018) was 650 000 tons, whereas in 2017 it was 533 000 tons. “Normal growth usually amounts to 30 000 tons of waste increase per year, but has now increased by 100 000 tons per year”, says Gökhan Yaman, the Environmental Engineer of the Gaziantep Municipality. He adds that this amount of waste in the Gaziantep city was forecasted for around year 2028, but instead they have already reached it.
If not treated properly and dumping it illegally, waste means a huge risk for environment and especially the water resources. In addition to this, if waste is not managed properly and becomes visible in community, there are additional risks related to social cohesion and negative perceptions of refugees.
Local Turkish municipalities have faced the challenge of a sudden increase in the amount of waste as a result of the incoming refugees. This has led to a huge task of reorganizing and enlarging the overall waste management in a modern, effective and environmentally friendly way.
“Over the last five years 500 000, Syrians have arrived to Gaziantep. I don’t think there is any city which can take such amount of people in such a short period of time without additional investments to address infrastructural and environmental challenges”, says Yaman.
The importance of planning
With that money they built two new landfill sites in 2018, which they originally planned to build by 2025. The sites were built using modern technology, with a collection system and treatment for leachate water.
A entire team in the waste management department in the Gaziantep Municipality is working to quickly adjust the city to meet the challenges of a the fast changing situation. Environmental engineers Mahir Emre Yalçın, Gökhan Yaman and Mehmet Kiliç are standing in the front of new kind of waste sorting bins are in test use in the lobby of Gaziantep Municipality.
Yaman says that one important aspect they have learned from the Syrian crisis, is the importance of planning. “Every plan has to be made with long-term perspectives – from 50 to 100 years forward.”
Being innovative means saving money
Amongst others, UNDP Turkey has supported the Municipality of Gaziantep with the provision of two new transfer stations as well as two large waste trucks, both funded by the EU.
A picture showing a 3D visualization of one of the new transfer stations built in Gaziantep with the help of UNDP. This picture is placed at the UNDP Turkey’s office in Ankara.
Now there is a plan to complete a new mechanical sorting station by the end of 2019, funded by the EU and implemented by UNDP with ILBANK. There is also a plan for a mechanical separation facility and a biogas facility to be implemented in 2019. After that, Gaziantep will be able to separate organic and other waste more efficiently. The new site will be finished in 2019 and it will be built in line with all modern environmental requirements.
The main challenges are time and money
“When you say “Syrians” very view people are thinking of municipality infrastructure.”
Sertac Turhal (right), Project Manager for the Syria Crisis and Resilience Response Program – UNDP Turkey – and E. Rusen Inceoglu (left), Communications Expert for the Syria Crisis Response and Resilience Program – UNDP Turkey – both planning future activity in their office in Ankara.
UNDP Turkey also supported three municipalities with the establishment of project management offices. Those offices provided technical support, for example to strengthen the municipal capacities to plan, budget and manage projects, including those funded externally.
“Our priority is to answer to the Syrian crisis, but yes, we are also trying to ensure more and more environmental needs. All that we are doing, all those facilities we are building are environmentally sustainable facilities.”
(The figures used throughout are taken from the period 11/2018, unless otherwise mentioned)
• Gaziantep is the 6th biggest city in Turkey
• Gaziantep’s population is 2 028 000. This was the population estimation of
• Number of refugees in Gaziantep is 429 000 (http://www.goc.gov.tr/icerik/dgmm-legislation_913_1311)
• There are 1.5 million Syrians living in Turkey’s south east border area and cities
• More than 96% of the refugees live in urban areas and just 4% is in the camps
• The Turkish government has spent 30 billion dollars on the Syrian crisis
• UNDP started to respond to the Syrian crisis in 2014
• UNDP have built two solid waste transfer stations to Gaziantep
• UNDP has donated four solid waste transfer vehicles (semitrailers)
• UNDP has donated four solid waste collection trucks with capacity of 7+1 cubic meters
• UNDP has donated four solid waste collection trucks with a capacity of 11 cubic meters
ENVIRONMENTAL INVESTMENTS OF GAZIANTEP:
• An additional 70 million TL has been invested in transfer stations, a leachate treatment plant and for waste disposal
• For housing, 75 000 houses/homes have been built and 5000 more will be built. It will cost 450 million TL
• For waste management, Gaziantep has spent 30 million TL (2015–2018)
• Two landfill sites were built in 2018. Originally these were planned for 2020/2023
WASTE PRODUCED PREVIOUSLY AND NOW IN GAZIANTEP:
• 2011: 437 000 tons of solid waste
• 2017: 533 000 tons of solid waste
• 2018: 650 000 tons of solid waste
• These amounts should have only been growing by 30 000 per year, but they have been growing by 100 000 tons per year.