Experience level: 
Intended Audience: 
Walid Abou-Khalil
Eliane Khalifé, Francisco Ernesto Navarrete-Báez, Walid Abou-Khalil, Amale El Asmar

Household Solid Waste Management in Rural Municipalities: Innovative Comparative Models of Customized Management in Mexico and Lebanon

Mexico and Lebanon are developing countries in two different continents. Although their geographical areas and political systems are dissimilar, they suffer from the same waste crisis that is threatening their environments. Since July 2015, Lebanon has experienced a significant waste crisis that had no precedents. Landfills are full and waste is piling up around most cities. This dramatic situation has, through violent demonstrations, opposed civil society against political leaders who have been accused of corruption and incompetence. In addition, the lack of coordination among Lebanese public administrations, the inappropriate regulations and the entanglement of the different actors' responsibilities, have contributed to worsening the situation. Despite the protests that call for an end to the garbage crisis, burning trash remains the only possible solution. However, trash incineration has caused an increase in atmospheric toxic levels and has become according to the Lebanese health minister, one of the main causes of cancer and heart diseases in Lebanon. On the other side, the waste problem has become chronic in Mexico. The issue of source sorting remains a problem in almost all regions of Mexico, particularly in Guadalajara Metropolitan area, the second most populous region in Mexico, which includes seven adjacent municipalities (IIEG, 2017) and where recycling initiatives have been launched, including one that allows residents to operate in the landfills and sell the waste they collect. Since these means remains a temporary and unhealthy solution, other alternatives are needed to overcome this problem. Those similar crises marked a major step in municipal and other public entities awareness to work with civil society in order to deal with environmental issues. This point of view is reinforced by the scientific community, which highlights the importance of territorial decentralization and the involvement of civil society, local authorities and more specifically rural municipalities in the management of environmental problems (Toé 1997, Chelin-Allanic 2005). The latter that have no access to technical resources for self-management of household solid waste, will be the ideal partners for rural sanitation actions. The objective of this research is to propose to municipalities or other public bodies in rural areas a model of multi-faceted service, following a "tailor-made" approach modulated according to the needs of the regional capacities of the communities. This will be achieved by collaborating with the municipalities on the best approach to implement solid household waste management (SHWM). In order to reach our goal and find a lasting solution to this environmental problem, it turns out that action research based on a partnership research approach (Kostrzewa et al., 2008) aims to reinforce the dialogue between the actors. In addition to exploring and understanding needs, it makes it possible to use local potentials as well as the local knowledge and the concerned actors' know-how, for the well-being of the entire community. Initially, two pilot sites in both countries will be selected based on the municipality's motivation for the project. Subsequently, it will be necessary, through this study, to work on the involvement of households and individuals by motivating them to participate actively in the source sorting process. In a further step, the municipalities that will remain responsible for the collection and secondary sorting will need to be informed by specific programs to encourage people to actively participate in the project. These programs will consist first of all in introducing the eco-citizenship reflexes in their territory. Campaigns that involve environmental awareness, waste sorting, and responsible consumption, will also be carried out.