Lebanon’s coastal city Sidon is turning its notorious garbage mountain into a city park. The USD 25 million project is being overseen by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Located only 200 metres away from residences and commercial units, the dumpsite received countless complaints from local fishermen and residents, and even an official complaint from the neighbouring island of Cyprus, according to the UNDP. But the environmental repercussions of Sidon’s enormous garbage mountain – which at its peak covered an area of over 6 hectares – were even more severe than the stench: municipal waste workers were exposed to grave health risks and garbage trucks dumped rubble and municipal waste directly into the sea, causing serious marine pollution.
But like much in this historically rich city, the garbage mound is quickly becoming a relic of the past: The city of Sidon, with the support of the UNDP, has embarked on an ambitious project to clean up the site and transform it into a green urban park. “It’s gone from a 58-metre trash mountain to an eight-metre green mound. We’ve cleaned up the sewage, and the trash mountain is gone,” Sidon’s mayor Mohamed al-Saudi is quoted as saying by the Green Prophet news portal.
When completed at the end of 2015, the public park will cover an area of 6.5 hectares. Although the project has reportedly come under fire because of the high costs and the damage it has caused to part of the beachfront, supporters argue that it is a vast improvement over the garbage mountain and will contribute to a greener quality of life for future generations.