The Minister of Local Affairs and The Environment said that decisive action will be taken to solve Tunisia’s environmental issues including waste management.
Yesterday in Sfax the Secretary of State for the Ministry of Local Affairs and the Environment, Chokri Belhassen is reported as saying that: urgent and “decisive” interventions are planned across all of Tunisia’s governoates to address the countries pressing environmental issues.
The Minister was speaking at this year’s Third Municipal Network Forum on Waste Management. According to the Minister, preparations were underway to create a new municipal police force that would be responsible for enforcing environmental law and bringing offenders to justice.
During the meeting of representatives of 40 municipalities, the Minister said that the nation’s entire waste management strategy was under-review, emphasizing the likely future role of public-private partnerships in addressing issues such as the recycling of household and construction waste.
Speaking to Tunisia Live the President of the environmental pressure group, SOS BIAA, Morched Garbouj talked about the need to decentralize waste management and give the responsibility to local government, saying, “The municipalities are serious and want to take matters into their own hands; They want to take responsibility for their waste, their waste water and their coast line. According to the constitution, it has to be done that way.” In Garbouj’s opinion, the Sfax meeting was a positive step, but he expressed doubts as to whether the Minister’s words would become a reality, “We do not think that there is political will to engage with decentralization process.”
Garbouj spoke extensively about Tunisia’s historic problem with refuse management, and a lack of a culture of recycling, “there are no sorting centers, and we don’t sort waste at home, so it goes to landfill.”
As well as criticizing central government for leaving responsibility for waste management to the National Waste Management Agency ANGED, he also criticized international donors for their complicity in the problem, saying that organisations such as the EU and World Bank were aware of issues of corruption and inefficiency. “Funding agencies (Donors) should shoulder 50% of the responsibility.” He added that “The donors no longer provide grants, they are loans, so in effect this is really the tax-payers’ money. In the end it is our money, Tunisian money and they are spending it on inefficient projects.”